Following 5 months of competitive training (approximately 9,000 yards.d-1, 6 d.wk-1), three groups of eight male swimmers performed 4 wk of either reduced training (3,000 yard.session-1) or inactivity. Two groups reduced their training to either 3 sessions.wk-1 (RT3) or 1 session.wk-1 (RT1), whereas the third group (IA) did no training. Measurement of muscular strength (biokinetic swim bench) showed no decrement in any group over the 4 wk. In contrast, swim power (tethered swim) was significantly decreased (P less than 0.05) in all groups, reaching a mean change of -13.6% by week 4. Blood lactate measured after a standard 200-yard (183 m) front crawl swim increased by 1.8, 3.5, and 5.5 mM over the 4 wk in groups RT3, RT1 and IA, respectively. In group RT1, stroke rate measured during the 200-yard swim significantly increased (P less than 0.05) from 0.54 +/- 0.03 to 0.59 +/- 0.03 strokes.-1 while stroke distance significantly decreased (P less than 0.05) from 2.50 +/- 0.08 to 2.29 +/- 0.13 m.stroke-1 during the 4-wk period. Both stroke rate and stroke distance were maintained in group RT3 over the 4 wk of reduced training. Group IA was not tested for stroke mechanics. Whereas maximal oxygen uptake decreases significantly (P less than 0.05) over the 4 wk in group RT1 (4.75 to 4.62 l.min-1), no change in maximal oxygen uptake was observed in group RT3. These results suggest that aerobic capacity is maintained over 4 wk of moderately reduced training (3 sessions.wk-1) in well-trained swimmers. Muscular strength was not diminished over 4 wk of reduced training or inactivity, but the ability to generate power during swimming was significantly reduced in all groups.