Competitive Performance, Training Load and Physiological Responses During Tapering in Young Swimmers

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Argyris G. Toubekis, Evgenia Drosou, Vassilios Gourgoulis, Savvas Thomaidis, Helen Douda, Savvas P. Tokmakidis

The study examined the changes of training load and physiological parameters in relation to competitive performance during a period leading to a national championship. The training content of twelve swimmers (age: 14.2±1.3 yrs) was recorded four weeks before the national championship (two weeks of normal training and two weeks of the taper). The training load was calculated: i) by the swimmer’s session-RPE score (RPE-Load), ii) by the training intensity levels adjusted after a 7×200-m progressively increasing intensity test (LA-Load). Swimmers completed a 400-m submaximal intensity test, a 15 s tethered swimming and hand-grip strength measurements 34-35 (baseline: Test 1), 20-21 (before taper: Test 2) and 6-7 (Test 3) days before the national championship. Performance during the national championship was not significantly changed compared to season best (0.1±1.6%; 95% confidence limits: -0.9, 1.1%; Effect Size: 0.02, p=0.72) and compared to performance before the start of the two-week taper period (0.9±1.7%; 95% confidence limits: 0.3, 2.1%; Effect size: 0.12, p=0.09). No significant changes were observed in all measured physiological and performance related variables between Test 1, Test 2, and Test 3. Changes in RPE-Load (week-4 vs. week-1) were correlated with changes in performance (r=0.63, p=0.03) and the RPE-Load was correlated with the LA-Load (r=0.80, p=0.01). The estimation of the session-RPE training load may be helpful for taper planning of young swimmers. Increasing the difference between the normal and last week of taper training load may facilitate performance improvements.
DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2013-0052
Key words
training loads, tethered swimming force, arm strength, periodization

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