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Periodization involves dividing the training plan into smaller parts using the terms mesocycle, macrocycle, and microcycle. These terms are used to establish a hierarchy of training within the overall program. This approach is well established in practice in a wide range of endurance and power sports. Mesocycle : Mesocycle refers to a long-term training phase last­ing several weeks to months. In swimming this rep­resents the entire 12-20-week preparation for a ma­jor national or international competition. Most com­monly, there are two mesocycles a year with peaks for the national swimming championships and then the major international competition (e.g., Olympics, Worlds, etc.) held later in the year (luly-September).
One of the fundamental principles that underpins the periodization of training is that volume of train­ing is increased before the intensity of training. This principle applies to meso-, macro- , and microcycles alike. Most coaches are familiar with the concept that a foundation of aerobic fitness is established early in the mesocycle or competition season. After this initial period of increasing training volume to build endur­ance, the emphasis of training switches to the devel­opment of speed and anaerobic capacities. It is of­ten observed that this base level of fitness can be reestablished fairly quickly (4-6 weeks) in those swim­mers with an extensive training background. This has implications for older more mature swimmers who are returning after a break from training or competi­tion. However, it is much more efficient for swimmers to maintain a basic fitness program during the off-season.
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.…