Training plan for a season

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The contemporary model of preparing competitive swimmers in a given year is based on the following se­quence of training and competition: preseason, early season, competitive season, taper, championship sea­son, and recovery or off-season. For highly trained swimmers the competitive season usually takes the form of domestic competition or international com­petitions.

The champi­onship season typically involves the national champi­onships, often doubling as the national team selection trials, and then the major international competition for that particular year.

Once the competition schedule has been estab­lished, the training plan can be prepared with the goal of maximizing the performance of the swimmer for the competitive and championship seasons. For in­ternational swimmers, the entire season is typically 44-48 weeks in length with a short break permit­ted after completion of the championship season. The length of each of the different training phases will vary according to the individual circumstances of the swimmer, team, and coach. In recent years, the international swimming calendar has become more crowded and as a consequence the annual train­ing plan has become more fragmented and com­plex.

A common view of experienced coaches is that this trend has been beneficial for sprint swimming, but detrimental to distance swimming. The relative plateauing of world records in women's distance swim­ming provides some support for this view.

The evolution of the modem training plan can be viewed from three perspectives. The traditional ap­proach to the annual plan and individual training sessions has centered on the different energy sys­tems as they apply to competitive swimming. The three energy systems model has enjoyed great pop­ularity in coach education, but its relevance for the practicing coach is somewhat limited. Clearly there are many other factors, apart from the proportional contribution from each of the three energy systems, that need to be considered. To address some of these long-standing concerns a new approach that inte­grates physiological, biomechanical, and psycholog­ical aspects of exercise and training has been pro­posed (Noakes 2000). Irrespective of the conceptual framework, coaches and swimmers are primarily in­terested in the prescription of training velocities. The most appropriate means of prescribing training veloci­ties is achieved through evaluation of the competitive model that identifies the performance requirements of each individual event (Mason 1999).

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