Papoti, M., Zagatto, A. M., Cunha, S. A., Martins, E. B., Manchado, F. B., Freitas, P. B., Araujol, G. G., & Gobatto, C. A. (2006). Effects of taper on critical velocity, anaerobic work capacity and distance performances in trained swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1574.


This study investigated the effects of 10 days of taper on the critical velocity, anaerobic work capacity, maximal performances, and its correlations with the anaerobic conditioning, and anaerobic threshold. Well-trained swimmers (M = 10; F = 4; ages 15-18 yr) were evaluated after 10 weeks of a periodized training (mean distance of 5,000 m/day). The treatment period was divided into basic preparatory and specific preparatory periods, followed by 10 days of taper, which consisted of a progressive non-linear reduction of up to 65% of the volume, with stimulus intensity being maintained from the basic and specific training periods. Before and after taper, Ss shaved for all tests (of anaerobic conditioning, anaerobic threshold, and maximal performances swimming crawl stroke over 100, 200, 300, 400, and 600 meters). In the anaerobic conditioning test, tethered swimming (attachment at the waist by a wire from a load cell) was performed for a 30-s maximal effort to determine swimming force. Anaerobic threshold was determined by a three progressive swimming efforts of 400 meters (85%, 90%, and 100% of maximal velocity) with intervals of 30 seconds between them. Blood lactate determinations were performed in after each incremental swim. Anaerobic threshold was assumed as the velocity corresponding to 3.5 mmol lactate. Critical velocity and anaerobic work capacity was interpolated from the maximal velocities of the 200, 300, 400, and 600 meter swims.

Anaerobic conditioning and maximum performances in 100 meters (1.4%), 200 meters (1.6%), and 600 meters (1.4%) improved significantly after the taper. However, maximal performances for 300 meters and 400 meters, anaerobic threshold, anaerobic work capacity, and critical velocity were not significantly altered by the taper. Critical velocity was highly correlated with anaerobic threshold (before r = 0.93; after r = 0.99). Taper, anaerobic conditioning, and anaerobic threshold were significantly correlated with the maximal performances over all distances. Anaerobic work capacity was not correlated with anaerobic capacity or any maximal performance.

Implication. Ten days of this experimental taper improved anaerobic conditioning and maximal performances of aerobic and anaerobic crawl swimming distances. Anaerobic work capacity is not related to maximum swimming performances.

[Editor's Note: This study assumes that all trained swimmers in all swimming programs are in the same physical and mental shape prior to a taper. That is too presumptuous. Swimmers partake of a host of training experiences leaving a great diversity of physical and mental statuses before important meets when tapers are enacted. The results of this study most likely are peculiar to the limited-subject group employed in this investigation. One should not infer that the findings of this study are appropriate for any group of trained swimmers.]

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