Swimming Energy Calculator

OttrLoggr: Energy Use Calculator

Swim Energy Usage


RER Value Guide

Slow (0.7)
A1 band - warm-up, recovery, cool-down sets
Moderate (0.85)
A2 band - aerobic capacity sets
Intense (1.00)
A3 band - aerobic power, VO2max sets

Data Source: Zamparo P, Bonifazi M (2013). Bioenergetics of cycling sports activities in water.

Coded for Swimming Science by Cameron Yick

Freestyle data

Total Cost

Quick Food Reference

48g Carbs
25g Carbs
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16g (2 tablespoons) *

Why am I Sore During Taper?

Take Home Points on Why am I Sore During Taper?

  1. Unaccustomed exercise resulting in DOMS is likely the reason swimmers get sore during taper.
  2. Psychology also plays a role in soreness during taper.
  3. Keep your training similar during taper and frequently utilized mental skills training for taper success. 
We commonly don't address questions during posts, but if we receive a lot of e-mails on a particular subject, it is evident the issue requires addressing. Some have recently asked us, "why do I often get sore during taper?". This common question has many factors, both hypothetical and scientific, but here are our thoughts:

Soreness mainly occurs from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) due to unaccustomed eccentric exercise. DOMS is the direct result of inflammation caused by micro-tears in the muscle fibers. 

Unaccustomed exercises don't seem obvious in taper, but they do appear. 

  1. High Intensity Training: Most programs shift towards higher intensity training during taper. This shift activates more type IIa fiber. In many traditional programs, these fibers are not activated at the same frequency or intensity, a possible mechanism of soreness. 
  2. Unfamiliar Activities: Starts are underutilized in workouts, but taper commonly brings them out! More unfamiliar in training are relay starts. Many coaches fill in the extra practice time (due to decreased training volume) with starts, turns, and other unfamiliar motions. These unfamiliar, high-intensity movements are certainly a possible cause of soreness.  
  3. Increased Sitting Time: Sitting more can be an unaccustomed exercise for many high-level athletes. Think about it, if you give a swimmers 90 more minutes a day for a month (from decreased training volume), it is likely they'll fill it with sitting. Sure, you want them to rest, but this increase in activity often results in soreness or even feeds into injury. Rest doesn't imply sitting around more, as taper life shouldn't be drastically different than training life.
  4. Increased Sleep Time: Just like sitting time, taper shouldn't drastically increase sleeping time. Ideally, your swimmer is already getting enough sleep, not requiring "catch-up" sleep during taper. 
These are the main physical reasons for soreness during taper, but physical aspects are only a part of the equation. Psychological reasons for more soreness are prevalent, ranging from thinking more about soreness and fixating on every bit of soreness. These concerns are common in athletes requiring mental training, yet proper mental training skills must be developed before taper.


Remember, soreness alters biomechanics, which impairs performance. This makes limiting soreness and "feeling good" vital for elite swimming performance. However, it is uncommon for a swimmer to always "feel good", for these times strong mental skills and a systematic approach for competition is vital!


  1. Yu J-G, Malm C, Thornell L-E. Eccentric contractions leading to DOMS do not cause loss of desmin nor fibre necrosis in human muscle. Histochem Cell Biol. 2002;118(1):29–34.
  2. Proske U, Morgan DL. Muscle damage from eccentric exercise: mechanism, mechanical signs,adaptation and clinical applications. J Physiol. 2001;537(Pt 2):333–45.
  3. Trappe S, Costill D, Thomas R. Effect of swim taper on whole muscle and single muscle fiber contractile properties. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jan;33(1):48-56.
Written by G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent  diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder SystemSwimming ScienceSwimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

Lifting For Taper, Part II

Take Home Points on Lifting For Taper

  1. There is little formal scientific research on optimal dry-land strategies during tapers
  2. Dry-land tapers should retain at least some injury prevention strategies
  3. The taper is not the time to experiment with new approaches

As many teams approach winter championship season, the word TAPER is on everyone’s
mind.  The taper is one of the least understood areas of the sport.  Even less understood is how dry-land fits into the taper.  Many teams have well planned dry-land taper strategies but most are based on experience and trial-and-error.  There simply isn’t much formal literature isolating dry-land. 

Still, it is possible to form guidelines on how to apply dry-land during a taper, especially considering individual differences.  Consider the long view: want to do your best in the short term, but balance against maintaining dry-land proficiency.  Fortunately, dry-land gains are more easily maintained than in-water gains so most swimmers report minimal strength loss when resuming strength and power training in the next training cycle. 

First, a review of general taper physiology:

How much improvement is possible from a taper? Tapers may vary widely in execution, but Kukubeli (2002) surveyed tapers and found an average of 3-4% improvement in performance is possible with tapers ranging from 2-4 weeks and volume reductions of 35-70%. However, this study recognized the importance of considering previous training to view a taper in context. Trappe (2001) found a 4% performance increase after a three week taper in highly trained swimmers. A study of swimmers at the 2000 Olympics found an average improvement of 2.57% for males and 1.78% for females in comparing Olympic performance with a major meet three weeks before the Games (Mujika, 2002) (See Tantallizing Taper)

Dry-land taper guidelines

  1. Don’t make dumb mistakes.  The taper is not time to inject something novel.  This is common sense not requiring research, but common sense is often uncommon…  
  2. That said, for experienced athletes, it is possible to actively advance performance in the final weeks.  One option is through contrast training, discussed in a previous discussion in Lifting Before Taper.  Ideally this should be experimented earlier in the season or before low key meets.  Alternatively, maybe the winter peak is being used as experimentation for long course strategies.  Testing it under the rigors of a full taper perhaps is one way to judge its effectiveness if the summer is higher priority.  
  3. Don’t forget that dry-land is a broad category.  Strongman training is likely not recommended, but dry-land also includes mobility, recovery, and movement pattern training.  As Dr. John wrote in Taper Pitfalls, "Many teams abruptly halt their dry-land programs as taper begins. If you believe out of water strength transfers to pool strength, then it is necessary to perform your strength training during a portion of your dry-land. Moreover, dry-land is necessary to prevent injuries, therefore these realms must continue as swimmers are under a different, higher intensity stress during taper. Remember dry-land must complement swimming, therefore it must reflect the taper and continue injury prevention and stability exercises.
  4. If dry-land is a separate session requiring athletes to make a separate trip to the pool, cancelling the session is an option.  Sleep has been covered thoroughly on this site, and dryland is one of the most expendable items during the taper, if athletes are behind on sleep.  (But…” Providing extra time to sleep in and rest is one of the favorite parts of taper. However, these gifts are often abused, as many swimmers will stay out extra late or go out on the extra days off. Make sure you earn your rest, don’t abuse your rest!”) (See, Taper Pitfalls). 
  5. Many believe the taper is time to get a massage, but remember to not do anything different.  Massage is a stressor to the body and you don’t know how the body will react if massage is novel or if massage volume or intensity increases.  Sometimes the nervous system can be tuned down from a relaxing massage, leaving the athlete feeling “flat” no matter how well intentioned the practitioner. (See Does Massage Improve Soreness).
  6. The mental side: Some swimmers look forward to the down time, while others crave the consistency of their routine, even if it means a vastly reduced workload in the gym.  See point 4 about focusing on injury prevention and movement pattern strategies for dry-land tapers. 


In general, err on the side of caution when designing dryland tapers.  Still, caution need not be total avoidance, as progress on dryland is still possible throughout championship season.  Too little is better than too much, but optimal is what we all strive for.  

  1. Trappe S , Costill D, Thomas R.  Effect of swim taper on whole muscle and single
  2. muscle fiber contractile properties.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jan;33(1):48-56
  3. Kubukeli ZN, Noakes TD, Dennis SC.  Training techniques to improve endurance exercise performances.  Sports Med. 2002;32(8):489-509.
  4. Mujika I, Padilla S, Pyne D.Swimming performance changes during the final 3 weeks of training leading to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.  Int J Sports Med. 2002 Nov;23(8):582-7.
Written by Allan Phillips is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and owner of Pike Athletics. He is also an ASCA Level II coach and USA Triathlon coach. Allan is a co-author of the Troubleshooting System and was selected by Dr. Mullen as an assistant editor of the Swimming Science Research Review. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at US Army-Baylor University.

    Brief Swimming Review Edition 16

    In an attempt to improve swimming transparency, this brief swimming review will be posted on Saturday. If you enjoy this brief swimming review, consider supporting and purchasing the Swimming Science Research Review for complete monthly article review for only $10/month! Click here to purchase past issues and the most recent review discussed mobility.

    Elite Swimmers have Non-Significant Improvements Between Seasons

    Monitoring change within and between seasons is essential for coaches, as understanding
    the most beneficial adjustments helps identify important areas to practice. This study monitored elite swimmers’ performance over two competitive seasons.

    Nine male competitive swimmers (~20 years; 116.22 s 200 m long course mean time) performed an incremental test (n x 200 m, n less than 8) in six occasions to obtain the velocity at 4 mmol of blood lactate (V4) and peak blood lactate concentrations as energetics, and the stroke frequency (SF), stroke length (SL), stroke index and swim efficiency as biomechanical variables. The starting velocity was set at a speed which represented a low training pace approximately 0.3 m/s less than the swimmer’s best performance.

    The swimmers typically performed 9 sessions per week. There was an increase in training intensity from the first to the second season.

    Slight improvements (non-significant) in performance were noted in the two season period. All energetic and biomechanical factors also presented slight non-signficiant variations with training. The best performance predictors were V4, SF, and SL. Each unit of change V4, SF, and SL represented an enhancement of 0.11 s, 1.21 s and 0.36 s in performance, respectively.

    Take Home Points:

    1. Elite swimmers make small improvements over two competitive swimming seasons.
    2. Biomechanics and energetics both provide an avenue for improvement, with biomechanics offering slightly more benefit.

    Progressive Swimming Tests Do Not Correlate with Performance

    Taper is a unique time for many swimmers. During this time, many changes are provided, with the overall goal of improving performance. Many coaches feel the main changes during taper are physiologically, but variables from nutrition to psychology also change. This study looked at the changes in training load and physiological parameters prior to a National Championship meet.

    Twelve swimmers (~14.2 years; F=8, M=4) had their training content recorded for four weeks before the National Championships (2 weeks of training, 2 weeks of taper). Training load was measured by:

    1. Assessing the swimmer’s session-rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (RPE- Load)
    2. Training intensity levels adjusted after a 7x200-m progressively increasing intensity test (LA-Load).

    The swimmers also completed a 400-m submaximal intensity test, a 15 s tethered
    swimming and hand-grip strength measurements at baseline, before taper, before the National Championship competition.

    Performance during the National Championship was not significantly different compared to the season best and compared to performance at the start of the two week taper. No significant changes were seen physiologically. Changes in RPE-Load were correlated with changes in performance and RPE-Load was correlated with LA-Load.

    Take Home Points:

    1. It seems these tests do not correlate with performance and perhaps measure variables not important for youth swimmers. 

    Differences in Dolphin Kicking

    Underwater dolphin kicking (UDK) is growing in importance in swimming, as it is used more often in the pool. This growing use is due to the reduced resisted drag force underwater, compared to above water swimming. This study looked at UDK.

    Fifteen male competitive swimmers (~21.5 years’ mean FINA points 663) were filmed performing three maximal UDK efforts over 15 m. The FINA points ranged from 445 to 868. Video frames were manually digitized for each athlete.

    Horizontal velocity during the downkick, horizontal velocity during the upkick, relative time spent in each phase, maximum chest flexion angle, maximum knee and ankle extension angles, the ratio of flexion/extension for chest, knee, and ankle angles, and maximum vertical toe velocity during the upkick phase correlated with mass velocity. The ratio of downkick vertical toe velocity/upkick vertical toe velocity was significantly negatively correlated with mass velocity.

    Take Home Points:

    1. Coaches should stress equal time spent in the up and downkick and less knee flexion for elite dolphin kicking.
    Related Reading
    Double-Leg Kick (Dolphin Kick) Basics Part I
    Double-Leg Kick (Dolphin Kick) Basics Part II
    Double-Leg Kick (Dolphin Kick) Basics Part III


    1. Costa MJ, Bragada JA, Marinho DA, Lopes VP, Silva AJ, Barbosa TM. Longitudinal Study in Male Swimmers: A Hierachical Modeling of Energetics and Biomechanical Contributions for Performance. J Sports Sci and Med. 2013 Dec 12, 614-622.
    2. Toubekis AG, Drosou E, Gourgoulis V, Thomaidis S, Douda H, Tokmakidis SP. Competitive performance, training load and physiological responses during tapering in young swimmers. J Hum Kinet. 2013 Oct 8;38:125-34. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2013-0052.
    3. Atkison RR, Dickey JP, Dragunas A, Nolte V.  Importance of sagittal kick symmetry for underwater dolphin kick performance. Hum Mov Sci. 2013 Nov 27. doi:pii: S0167-9457(13)00156-5. 10.1016/j.humov.2013.08.013. [Epub ahead of print]
    G. John Mullen received his Doctorate in Physical at University of Southern California (USC) and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). At USC, he was a clinical research assistant performing research on adolescent diabetes, lung adaptations to swimming, and swimming biomechanics. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal. He is currently the owner of COR, providing Physical Therapy, Personal Training, and Swim Lessons to swimmers and athletes of all skills and ages. He is also the creator of the Swimmer's Shoulder System, Swimming Science, Swimming Science Research Review, and the Swimming Troubleshooting System.

    Training Intensity During Swimming Taper

    The newest edition of the Swimming Science Research Review was released this morning. Below is one example review from the September release as well as the contents in this copy.

    Make sure you pick your copy up today to enhance your swimming and evidence-based coaching. 



      Multiple tapers are often necessary for elite swimmers. However, the amount of volume and intensity to maintain velocity and maximal power (Pmax) is often debated. 

      What was done

      Seven female collegiate swimmers (~18.6 years; ranked in the top 40 in the NCAA Division 1) from the University of Texas. Each participant performed in their top event 50 m free (n=2), 100 m freestyle (n=1), 100 m breaststroke (n=1), 100 m backstroke (n=1), and 200 m IM (n=2).  Each participant underwent a low volume of high-intensity training (LIT) during the 2004 season and a high volume of high-intensity training (HIT) in the 2005 season. High volume was performed up until taper (45,000 – 55,000 m/week). Dry-land was also performed 2 x 3/week during this period and was removed around the 2nd week of taper. 


      During HIT, 30 – 23% of the total training was race pace or higher, while during the LIT 15 – 20% was race pace or higher. Pmax was 8 – 14% higher at HIT compared to LIT. After CONF, Pmax reduced by 9% in LIT, but didn’t undergo any drop in HIT. T was also significantly lower post CONF during LIT compared to HIT. Velocity was significantly higher at conference and NAT competition for the HIT compared to the LIT.   


      Taper was not impaired at the NAT competition during the HIT likely due to the increase in fast twitch muscle recruitment. It seems torque is an indicator of Pmax and velocity.

      Practical Implication

      If performing multiple tapers, maintaining a high amount of intense training is necessary to prevent a decrease in performance. 


      1. Trinity JD, Pahnke MD, Sterkel JA, Coyle EF. Maximal power and performance during a swim taper. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Jun;29(6):500-6. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


      1. Foreword
      2. Acute Foam Rolling Doesn’t Improve Performance
      3. Unsafe Shoulder Pain Practices Exist in Age-Group Swimmers
      4. Peaking Age in Swimmers
      5. Scapular Position Alters Shoulder Strength
      6. Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse Does Not Improve Cycling Performance
      7. Improving Passive Range of Motion Doesn’t Transfer to Skills
      8. Acute Roller-massage Improves ROM without Decreasing Force Production
      9. Ankle and Knee Flexibility Influences Breaststroke Skill
      10. Strength Correlated with Sprint Swimming Success in Masters
      11. Internal and External Rotator Cuff Weakness in Swimmers with Shoulder Pain 
      12. EMG In Free, Breast, Fly
      13. Shoulder EMG During Moderate Freestyle
      14. High-volume High-intensity Taper Preserves Performance
      15. HIIT More Time-Effective than Traditional Training in Age-group
      16. High Percentage of Type I Muscle Fibers in Swimmers
      17. Normal Warm-up is Best for ~50% of Swimmers
      18. Unilateral Breathing Doesn’t Cause On-land Asymmetries
      19. Lat Pull Down Correlated with Tethered Swimming Performance
      20. External Rotation ROM and Previous Shoulder Pain are Risk Factors
      21. Typical Shoulder Prevention Program Doesn’t Work!
      22. Strength Training Associated with Improvement in Youth Swimmers
      23. High-Intensity Aerobic and Low Volume Resistance Improves 400-m
      24. Decrease in EMG during the Freestyle Downsweep
      25. Glossary