Effects of taper on swim power, stroke distance, and performance

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Oct;24(10):1141-6.


Competitive swimmers progressively reduce training volume or "taper" prior to an important competition in an effort to improve performance capabilities. The purpose of the current study was to determine the effects of taper upon factors associated with swim performance. Twelve intercollegiate swimmers were tested before and after taper in preparation for their season-ending meet. Power during a tethered sprint swim increased significantly (P < 0.05) by approximately 5% with taper. No significant changes occurred in distance per stroke, oxygen consumption, and post-exercise blood lactate level during a 182.9-m submaximal swim with taper. Five swimmers were additionally tested after shaving exposed body hair upon completion of taper. Swim power did not increase further with hair removal. In contrast, shaving significantly increased distance per stroke (P < 0.05) by approximately 5%. These data indicate that reduced training specifically improves swim power; however, removing exposed body hair after taper may additionally enhance performance capabilities by increasing distance per stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hair Removal
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Swimming*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors