A Look at Slower Second Swims

disappointed swimmer

Slower second (or third) swims in an event seems to be a topic that nobody wants to discuss. After all, since these swims usually only happen at bigger meets, swimming slower isn’t something that people want to draw a lot of attention to. But it’s part of the process and needs to be looked at.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the term, second or third swims refer to usually bigger meets where the swimmer makes semi-finals and possibly finals, and gets to swim the event again. A slower second swim means the swimmer swam slower than the time that got them to that semi-final or final. In other words, when it came time to perform big, the swimmer didn’t come through.

As a coach, I’ve certainly seen these swims many times, and the phenomena intrigues me. Why do these slower second swims happen? And how do they happen?

Why do slower second swims happen?

The question of ‘why?’ appears to boil down to one or more of three things: preparation, experience, and strategy.


It’s hard to imagine that veteran swimmers don’t know how to physically or nutritionally prepare for a second swim. They’d have been through it many times in the past. The important question is whether they’ve mentally prepared themselves. Bigger meets have different protocols, waiting rooms, louder fans, more pressure, etc. Visualizing and mentally rehearsing the process are some of the tools here. But again, they should all know that. For top swimmers, preparation shouldn’t be a problem, but it might be for regional level swimmers.


Inexperience can be a big factor at every level, even the Olympics. Every time a swimmer reaches a new level, it’s a new experience. Some handle it without a problem, while others get distracted by the different energy and pace, by the different distractions …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog