Groups of swimmers were compared using different tapers. One group tapered for four weeks, reducing the volume each week by 33%. The other abruptly reduced volume by 80% and stayed at that level for two weeks.

It was found that the most important factor for producing performance improvement was to reduce the training volume by about 60% of normal. Whether the taper was gradual or sudden did not seem to matter. Maintaining training intensity but reducing the volume seems to maintain and fine-tune performance capacity.

Power was maintained in both tapers. It would seem that if sufficient background training has been completed then reducing the volume of work allows supercompensation to occur, resulting in improved performances. Over distances of 100, 200, and 400 m, performances improved 6% from start to the end of the taper period.

[A taper allows the value of the season's training to be revealed.]

Implications. It does not seem to matter if a taper is programmed gradually or instituted in an abrupt manner.

  1. The major performance enhancement effect appears to come from the extra recovery that is facilitated when the volume of work is reduced by at least 60%.

  2. Swimming intensity must be maintained to preserve functional power.

  3. Pretaper training volume will affect the level of final performance more than will different taper programs.

  4. Until further studies are completed it is best to set the upper limit for taper duration as four weeks.

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