ONLY TESTS IN THE TAPER PHASE ARE RELATED TO FINAL SWIMMING PERFORMANCES
Anderson, M. E., Hopkins, W. G., Roberts, A. D., & Pyne, D. B. (2003). Monitoring long-term changes in test and competitive performance in elite swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35(5), Supplement abstract 194.
Olympic team members (M = 10; F = 9) performed a 7 x 200 m incremental swimming step test several times throughout each six-month season from 1998-2002. A season concluded with a national or international competition. The following were measured between phases and seasons: speed, stroke rate, stroke count, heart rate at lactate threshold, speed for the last 200-m step, and maximal lactate.
Test measures directly related to performance showed a cyclical improvement of -2% from early to the taper phase within each season. Within-swimmer variation was of a similar magnitude. However, only tests done in the taper phase (speed, stroke rate at lactate threshold, and maximum lactate) were related to actual final season times.
Implication. The step test changes in concert with training across a season. Therefore, it is an independent measure that monitors training effects. However, within season tests do not predict final performances. Only tests performed in the taper are related to final competition performances. [One interpretation is that the high volume of in-season training is unrelated to final tapered performances. What then, is the rationale for involving ambitious swimmers in so much irrelevant training?]
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