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Effects of Taper on Swim Performance

Practical Implications

Summary

Competitive swimmers commonly focus upon optimising performance at a single competition. A period where training volume is incrementally reduced or ‘tapered’ often precedes such a competition. The use of taper is justified as increases in muscular power, and the restoration of plasma haematocrit, haemoglobin and creatine kinase are evident with this training reduction. A consistent performance improvement of approximately 3% has also been reported with taper in competitive swimmers. However, there are limitations in terms of what comprises a successful taper schedule. It appears that a taper which improves performance involves a substantial (60 to 90%) graded reduction in training volume, and daily high intensity interval work over a 7- to 21-day period. Training frequency should be reduced by no more than 50%; a more conservative estimate would be to reduce frequency by approximately 20%. Optimal performance is likely when the reduction in training frequency is combined with the qualitative knowledge of the coach and/or athlete during taper.

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Houmard, J.A., Johns, R.A. Effects of Taper on Swim Performance. Sports Medicine 17, 224–232 (1994). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199417040-00003

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-199417040-00003

Keywords

  • Training Volume
  • Apply Physiology
  • Distance Runner
  • Swim Performance
  • Training Frequency