Trinity, J. D., Pahnke, M. D., Sterkel, J. A., & Coyle, E. F. (2008). Maximal power and performance during a swim taper. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 29, 500-506.

This study examined how altering training intensity during a taper impacts maximal mechanical power (Pmax), torque at power maximum (T), velocity at power maximum (V), and swim performance (m/sec). Using an arm ergometer with inertial loading, measurements of Pmax, T, and V were made for seven consecutive weeks prior to the taper and during the taper in female competitive collegiate swimmers (N = 7). Ss were tested over two consecutive years. Swim performances were calculated from three competitive meets: a conference meet, the conference championship meet, and the national championship meet.

A 50 to 60% increase in the amount of "high-intensity training" during the taper of 2005 (high-intensity taper) resulted in Pmax values that were 8 to 14% higher at all but one time point when compared to the 2004 taper (low-intensity taper). Swim performance was significantly worsened at the national championship meet following low-intensity taper. However, with the high-intensity taper, swim performance, Pmax, and T were maintained prior to and at the national championships.

Implication. Training quality should be maintained in a taper while training quantity is reduced. A large reduction in high-intensity training during a taper reduces the length of time that maximal mechanical power, torque at power maximum, and swim performance can be maintained at peak levels.

[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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