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It’s Taper Time

Compiled by Coach Bob Steele

Editor's Note: The following short article compiled by Coach Bob Steele first appeared in USA Swimming's COACHES QUARTERLY in March of 1995. It's a great summary of a complex topic.

Tapering Research

The following ideas are provided for coaches to utilize as situations and philosophies permit. Results may vary depending on the individual athlete. The ICAR Annuals (1989-1991) provide these research concepts for coaches to apply:

Diet and Taper Training

  1. It is important to maintain caloric intake that matches caloric cost in order to avoid rapid weight loss.
  2. During taper periods, an adjustment in caloric intake should be made that matches the reduced caloric cost as a result of decreased training volume.
  3. Calories are important in the provision of proper nutrient intake and maintenance of energy storage. If disrupted, training response may be compromised.
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What’s New & What’s Not

By Dick Hannula

What's new and what has been around for a long time but now has a new package? I've been in the process of cleaning out my files, and boxes of newspaper clippings that were never filed. I keep running across the old that is now considered new, and some very interesting articles that keep me from making the timely progress that I'm trying to attain. Currently I'm reading a 1975 newspaper interview with Olympic women's coach, Jack Nelson. He was asked about the new training methods and their contribution to lowering swimming times. Jack responded, "Practically everything "new" is 10 to 40 years old, if not 80. I'd say about 80% of those articles that we read about new training methods have been around for years. They give it a new name and they write about it."

I heartily agree with Jack. This extends to technique as well. I don't want to give the impression that nothing is new. However, most of what is new is the fine tuning of what has already been done. One example of a "new" concept is the trunk rotation, or swimming on the side, in the long axis strokes – free and backstroke. Much of what has been written recently indicates that this is a new concept in swimming. Where have these people been? Murray Rose and his generation of Australian Olympians swam on their side, rotating the trunk. This was in 1956, and they weren't the first swimmers to use this technique. Howard Firby was lecturing in the early 1960s that free and backstroke were swum best using the trunk rotation, or swimming on the side. He illustrated this in his lectures through the use of a molded, from clay, swimmer. He also illustrated this in his drawings that he later used in his excellent book. Howard was a commercial artist, and had an exceptional "eye" in analyzing why some swimmers swam faster than others.

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