Before aquatic athletes compete, the training regimen that precedes an outstanding performance must be appreciated. Because pool water supports swimmers (simulating weightlessness) and transfers excess heat from their skin, competitive swimmers are able to train at volumes and intensities that would be counterproductive in other sports. The weekly mileage a swimmer trains often exceeds that of a distance runner!
Aquatic athletes typically do not approach personal bests without tapering. Tapering refers to a gradual reduction in training volume and/or intensity over a period of time, which allows the swimmers to recover from the training overload. Tapers last from a few days to several weeks depending upon the athlete, coach and event being swum. Most coaches taper their swimmers one to three times per year. At these events (championship meets), competitive swimmers shave their skin, wear high-tech body suits and hope to achieve their fastest swims ever. It is at these meets that a fast pool is expected – and deserved.
Posting personal best times and possible records define a successful season, so many coaches put little value on times posted during the early and midseason meets (dual meets). They view these as learning opportunities as well as high-quality training sessions. Because championship meets generally involve many teams, a venue often is selected by the number of athletes and spectators who can be accommodated. For that reason, many championship pools gain a reputation (possibly undeserved) as fast pools.