Taper

So maybe what you want to say (about swimming) doesn't quite fit into one of our other categories. This is the place for you.

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Captain Insano
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Taper

Post by Captain Insano » Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:40 pm

I was talking to a fellow D3 swimmer turned coach at the local pool the other day when he passed on an interesting story about Eddie Reese:

One year Reese coached a sprint freestyler who made his (19 something) A cut at their December taper meet, but performed terribly at Texas' conference meet. Reese, knowing this swimmer had worked hard in season, told him to take a vacation from swimming before training for NCAAs. I am told he took off about 9 days, but I am not too clear on the specifics. The swimmer came back and still felt like crap. Reese told him to take off some more time. This pattern continued until the big meet.

The guy won the 50 freestyle, a personal best, and had the meet of his life.

Does anyone have a similar story to relate to this? It blows my mind that this would work. Although as a Hopian, I know that Rob Peel rested a ton before his best performances at trials, but I am convinced that Rob Peel was just strong enough that it didn't matter. Patnott will give you a lecture on the timeline of the development of the most important fast-twitch muscle fibers if you ask him about tapering.

Does this only work for sprinters or would the D guys benefit from a no-swimming taper?

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Re: Taper

Post by swim5599 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:16 pm

This seems so Anti Reese. Most of those older Texas guys have said that they have to almost take the taper from Eddie. I believe I heard Peirsol say that. I believe that it happened I am just surprised.

I don't have a story like this but I have a story about a girl I coached that dropped almost 7 tenths in the 50 from the conf meet to the last chance meet and we did about 500 yards in between meets. Worked out beautifully.

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Re: Taper

Post by PioneerSwimming » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:00 pm

I've actually read that Reese has said something to the effect of "when in doubt, taper MORE." Basically, err on the side of more rest. I suspect this comes from a confidence that the work was done, that the "hay was in the barn." I know that Reese works his swimmers hard. I am also completely confident that he knows his swimmers better than they do, and that if he felt that Piersol didn't need to come down too far, he didn't. Piersol was relatively slight in terms of muscularity: if he lost any muscle tone he'd be less efficient. Hansen, on the other hand, was lots bigger, and probably could thrive on a longer taper.

In terms of what Coach Patnott would lecture on, I suspect that this also has to do with the amount of work done in a season, and the ability of muscle to remodel as fast-twitch fibers. I suspect that he would advocate that his taper period is all about radically reducing yardage (a la Peel), allowing fibers to remodel to type II or IIa fibers (fast-twitch or fast twitch with some endurance). What taper is about is getting muscles ready to work efficiently in those 20 or 44 or 50 second races, two to four times in one day at a championship, as opposed to having muscles ready to work during 2 hour practices and 7000 yards. It would be pointless for anyone besides distance swimmers to be "in shape for practice," which in reality is lots about slow-twitch muscles.

I'm not sure I really see too much of a problem with a massive drop or lots of time off from the pool in these special conditions: 1) the swimmer has incredible "feel" and efficiency in the water (Eddis Singleton comes to mind). 2) the swimmer has large musculature that will not easily dissipate during periods of inactivity. 3) the swimmer has a large enough "base" to be able to withstand warm-up yardage during meets. 4) The swimmer can call on efficient recruitment of fast-twitch fibers only and is fit enough to last through the duration of the required event.

The literature suggests that there is a two-three week period before any "detraining effect" happens. Basically, little or no conditioning is lost in this period (but the problem is that swimming is all about technique, so drill work is always required). The caution is, to my swimmers reading this, that there will be no GAIN during times of inactivity, and there is always the possibility that a non-active swimmer will gain weight and become less streamlined. And, poor technique will probably compound itself.

As a side-note, a diver on the team, a former sprinter on the team who last swam two years ago, out-split most of his teammates in the 200 FR, with a 200 warm-up. He is muscular, lean, and trains as a triathlete and diver. He split a 22.8 in a slow pool. He'd have been dog-meat in the 100, but he hacked off a few of his teammates, coming off the bench with borrowed goggles and cap.

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Re: Taper

Post by JHU84 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:38 pm

some kids need rest - my kid dropped to 1000-1500 a day for 3 weeks before juniors nothing over 95%. the year before same thing swam like crap at the texas sr circuit meet 3 weeks before sectionals - dropped to 1 a day 1000 per day. really to get in a just feel the water. this year will be interesting as he will rest for juniors but not the big rest he gets for end of season.

our said he never rested anyone as much but it worked.
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Re: Taper

Post by Captain Insano » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:54 pm

Pioneer,
Thanks, that is the kind of response I was hoping for. I think you nailed what Patnott would say and has said to me throughout the years, especially about type II fibers. Most of the time, I was just kind of like "OK!". I took that wealth of knowledge for granted.

I have tried different things throughout the years. I time myself in the water all of the time and I have found that I have no idea why I am faster some days. Today for instance was my first day in the water in a week and felt like absolute crap. I have taken weeks off before and felt amazing. I am never sure whether more rest is better. I guess that is good since I am not actually swimming meets.

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Re: Taper

Post by sagehen1 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:21 am

Re: the UT sprinter - I'm pretty sure the guy in question is Gary Hall Jr.

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Re: Taper

Post by SkipBrainless » Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:06 am

Well he did say ONE year...GHJr. was at texas for only his freshman year....

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Re: Taper

Post by RhymeAndReason » Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:47 am

Did GHJr win the 50 at NCAA's? I know he went 19.30 or thereabouts.

I know Eddie felt that he didn't give the 1998 UT team enough rest - the team had a very disappointing year after a really good year in '97 (that was Neil Walker's superman year).

I personally agree with the.. "when in doubt. rest more" motto. I always did far better with more rest, despite the fact that I was(am) a rail. 3-4 weeks or taper and my 50-500 would be great. While super sprinter Paul Gyorfi only liked to rest 10 days.

I was a beast for my size in the weight room though, maybe that has something to do with it (only 2 or 3 guys on the team could out lift me - can you believe that Sean?)? Something to do with muscle strength density or something? I am no physiologist.
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Re: Taper

Post by Colbybr » Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:56 am

One of my favorite quotes ever is something to the effect of "You can't miss a taper but you can miss a season". If you do the right things for the whole season then taper is nothing magical, its just rest! Now I do agree that different swimmers need different tapers but everyone needs SOME rest. Also, here's a great more scientific article on taper:

http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0903.htm
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Re: Taper

Post by DonCheadle » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:05 am

sagehen1 wrote:Re: the UT sprinter - I'm pretty sure the guy in question is Gary Hall Jr.
Nah, it is Shaun Jordan.
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Re: Taper

Post by swim5599 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:14 am

Actually paul I absolutely can believe that, YOu had some big guys on your squad back then, but my money would have been on you in the weight room.

I always needed a ton of rest, in fact senior year I probably needed like 6 weeks. It varies with people but the more muscle the more rest is what I always thought.

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Re: Taper

Post by nemesis enforcer » Sat Nov 08, 2008 5:23 pm

pioneer,

where did you read that stuff about muscle fiber remodeling?
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Re: Taper

Post by Captain Insano » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:59 pm

So I just read the article Colby posted... I am most interested in the section about tapering being neural, in particular the part about neuromuscular coordination and norepinephrine.

"Basically, heavy training tends to produce fair amounts of mental lethargy, anxiety, confusion, and depression, and tapering helps to clear the mind, partly by changing the concentrations of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine."

This made me wonder if there is a more effective format to the two-taper college season. I have no idea what that would be... maybe working really hard for two weeks and resting for two, alternating all season long? I am just thinking that being anxious, lethargic and confused for 6 out of the 7 months of a season can't be the most efficient way to get faster. And yet it seems to work. In general we are faster in March than in December which would suggest that we are getting faster while we are increasingly dazed and uncoordinated. I guess conditioning is the factor that trumps all others in terms of making improvements.

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Re: Taper

Post by Colbybr » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:56 am

Here's what I'm taking from that article. Our October to March one or two taper system has worked thus far but there could be something better. What if you tapered a week out of every month as per their suggestion?

I have noticed that my swimmers train at an entirely different level for the weeks following their mid season taper. Could you create more advances in training ability by adding another taper or two? I think its likely.
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Re: Taper

Post by Captain Insano » Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:35 am

Yeah man, you should try that with your UPenn swimmers.

I don't know how you can pull off one of these controlled experiments though. What do you tell the experimental group? "You will most likely suck at the conference meet, but this is for the sake of science so deal with it."

Maybe there is a group of swimmers that is willing to try it, but then it isn't really a controlled experiment.

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