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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Efficacy of a modified tapering protocol on swimming performance : original research article
Objective. The aim of this study was to determine any difference in performance following two different tapering protocols after a period of heavy training.
Design. Twelve swimmers who regularly trained at a high volume and intensity were recruited and trained together for 3 weeks. They were then randomly split into two groups (N=6 per group). One group underwent a standard taper protocol, while the second followed a modified taper in which training load was gradually resumed for 1 week following a standard taper. Performance assessment following tapering consisted of 2 swims over a distance of 200 m, with a recovery period of 5 hours between swims. After resuming normal training, subjects tapered a second time, each group following the alternate protocol.
Outcome measures. Total time and split times for each length, stroke rate, distance per stroke, and stroke index in a performance swim were determined as well as heart rate (HR), profile of mood state (POMS), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and muscle pain during each taper.
Results. Mean swim times for the modified and conventional tapers were 134.7±9.1 and 134.7±9.3 seconds, respectively (mean ±SD). There was also no difference in the split times between groups, although both became slower in the final three laps. Stroke rate, distance per stroke, and stroke index were also not different between protocols. There were no differences between protocols in HR, RPE or rating of muscle pain over the duration of the tapering period. However, there was a significant reduction in HR on day 5 of both tapers and a lower POMS on days 3, 4 and 5 on the standard taper protocol. At the time of the performance swim, however, there was no difference in POMS.
Conclusion. There were no performance or physiological advantages from the modified tapering protocol.
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