Tokyo 2020: the best Olympics
Training in the pool & the rest needed:
Swimming is a very hard sport and preparation is key to have the best performance. It doesn’t matter if the swimming meet is a state championship or the World Championships, taper is a crucial part of the process to get the result you have been training for years. Taper is when swimmers rest their body by decreasing the volume in the pool and gym, and this normally occurs at the end of the season.
There is this way of thinking that one should train a lot of yardage and then rest, to be able to compete at the maximum level. This has become so popular among swimmers and coaches that it is now a stereotype, where people depend on the amount of yards that they swim every single day.
This perspective about swimming training has been around for a couple of decades, however, the COVID 19 Pandemic made swimmer to stop their training. Not because they wanted, but because of the lockdown established by the governments, forcing all establishments to close.
Get out of the comfort zone:
Not being able to train made swimmers who were used to swim a big amount of yards every single day to struggle physically, but even more mentally.
When a routine has already been established and you are used to a certain stimulus while training, it is very difficult to abandon that routine, therefore most high-level swimmers used all resources available to keep training in and outside the pool.
This sacrifice was with the purpose to keep being in good shape to be able to assist to the Olympic Games during the summer of 2020, however, COVID 19 case increased all around the world and this forced the IOC to postpone the games for the next summer.
A new and different environment: The current situation of the Games
Now that the swimmer knew about the decision of the IOC, the lack of motivation arrived because there was no competition to train for. At the same that this decision was made public, training centers and pools closed in most countries due to regulations against COVID19, forcing swimmers to be out of the water for several weeks.
Swimmers usually do not take big breaks, because this sport is very jealous and it requires a lot of hard work and dedication, therefore most analysts were expecting regular performances if the Olympic Games were going to happen in the summer of 2021.
This being said, the skills and capability of the athletes were never in doubt, but what was concerning most people was the lack of time in the pool prior to the games.
Never doubt swimmers: they are incredible athletes
Once the first night of finals in Tokyo happened, the doubt about mediocre races immediately disappeared. The Australian women dominated the 4×100 free relay and they set a new world record with a time of 3:29.69 (NBC Sports, 2021). This race was just a little taste of what it was going to happen. Dressel and McKeon broke Olympic and World records and were the stars of the entire meet.
The following two tables (male and female) will compare the results of the 100 fly, back and free in the past three Olympic Games (2012, 2016 & 2021).
|Men’s Results||100 fly||100 free||100 back|
|Women’s Results||100 fly||100 free||100 back|
*The tables show the time of the winner in the respective races. Compared to 2012, in the last games it took a 49.45 (new WR) to get the gold. Dressel’s 2021 time is 1.76 seconds faster than Michael Phelps’ time in the final of the London 2012 games.
On the women’s side, McKeon set a new Olympic record with her incredible 51.96. She became one of the few women to break the barrier of the 52 seconds.
Tokyo 2020: waiting a year was worth it
In summary, the Tokyo Olympic Games were a complete success. Athletes had a safe stay in the Olympic Village and were able to perform at their maximum level, by following the great protocols and norms established by the IOC, the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Japanese government.
Even though swimmers experienced a forced break of several weeks due to the pandemic, their times were incredibly fast. This was the first time in a while that most of the best swimmers in the world stopped their training just a few months before the start of the most important swim meet that occurs every 4 years.
This being said, these results have brought doubts about the way of training and coaching. Is it really necessary to swim a big volume of yards?
The swimming philosophy is weird and not even swimmers can explain it. Maybe this was what it was needed: a break that could revolutionize the way swimmers train. There has been some swimmers that have been dealing with over training symptoms and even depression, therefore coaches should definitely consider to give swimmers more rest. We do not need another pandemic to show that rest is needed of you want to perform at your best.
What do you think?
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