Trinity, J. D., Pahnke, M. D. & Coyle, E. F. (2003). Effect of taper duration on the time course for changes in maximal power of elite female swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1622.


This study determined if the time course for changes in maximal neuromuscular power is altered as taper duration is decreased from four to three weeks. Elite female collegiate swimmers (N = 7) performed the first taper before the conference championship meet and the second taper before the national championship meet. Timing of meets was identical during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. An arm ergometer with inertial loading was used to measure power.

The largest increase in power (~18%) during 2004 occurred 22 days after the start of four week taper. Power increased before the 2004 national championship (three week taper) by 12% (significantly less than the longer taper). The largest increase in power (8.6%) during 2005 occurred at the end of the three week taper (before the national championships). The change in power in the four-week taper was 8.4%. In 2004, performances were reduced at the national championships when compared to conference performances. Performances during 2005 improved at the conference championships with the increase maintained at the national championships.

[Editor's note: There was no control group in this study. Essentially, 2004 reactions were compared to those of 2005. Since the results were different for each year, it is only a tentative assertion that the conclusions of this report are indeed valid.]

Implication. A reduction in taper from four to weeks enabled maximal neuromuscular power and performance to be obtained closer to competition.

[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.]

Return to Table of Contents for Training for Swimming.