A few people have mentioned to me over the last couple of weeks what they were thinking of doing with their swimming leading up to a swim event. In all the cases, they were talking about not swimming for a few days prior to the event which in most cases isn't correct.
Below I have provided some guidelines for an open water swim taper. Now not all tapers will be the same as what works for one person may not for the next and it may take a few tapers to get it right. A taper will also be influenced by the type of event you are focusing on, for example a 500m swim event will be very different to a 10km open water swim event.
1. Maintain your usual training frequency so you don't lose your feel or inherent sense for the water. 2. At the same time as you maintain your training frequency you should be gradually reducing the volume. A taper may be anywhere from 1-3 weeks and in some cases even 4 depending on the volumes you are swimming prior to the taper.
3. You should still perform some higher intensity sets but reduce the reps and take longer rests.
4. I've always said that if you want to take a rest day then it should be 2 days prior to the event.
5. Do a short swim the day prior to the event e.g., 20-30mins which will include some short intensity efforts with lots of rest. This reiterates point 1 above, maintaining your feel for the water.