Body shaving maximizes your feel for the water
While most recreational swimmers could not be bothered, world-class swimmers depend on their once- or twice-annual full-body shave to, well, “shave” seconds off their times.
Breaststroke Taper & Shave
Swim fast in practice to swim fast in meets is a training axiom, esp.during the taper phase of swimming. The decrease in friction and rejuvenation of muscle strength are well documented by studies over the last three decades.
Components of a Taper
A review of what a taper actually is and the physiological factors associated with tapering in swimming by J. A. Houmard & R. A. Johns; From Coaching Science Abstracts.
Feel for the water - Shaving Down
In order to intensify this feel for water, Australian swimmers of the Fifties started shaving down their legs before important races.
Hitting the taper just right
Some ideas on hitting the taper bullseye.
Imagine the athletes' muscles are like a catapult
Scientific studies have shown that 'tapering' - reducing one's training for one to three weeks prior to competition - can produce dramatic improvements in performance but haven't been sure exactly why this is so.
Angie Calder, BA, MA, B.ApplSciSp with overtraining information and recovery tips to keep in mind as a part of any plan; From ASCA.
Prior to a major competition, a swimmer will shave his or her entire body. The removal of the hair provides less resistance between skin and water and heightens a swimmer's sensations in the water.
It is widely believed that competitive swimmers can increase their speed by shaving.
Shaving Down Reports
A grad students notes on research into shaving down.
Many swimmers say they feel “slippery”, “slimey”, or “electric” after shaving down. While most swimmers will admit some of the benefits are mental, all will say that there is certainly a physical benefit as well.
What does your razor have to do with how fast you swim? According to the experts, how, or what you shave with could mean the difference between going for the gold or merely treading water.
These Masters Swimmers share some of their ideas and experiences on tapering; From the Davis Aquatics Masters.
Dr. Ralph Richards explains some of the science behind tapering, and how to apply it to various ages of athletes.
Tapering and Performance
In order to be the best in whatever swimming discipline, competitive athletes and their coaches are constantly seeking new and effective methods to improve performance.
Many coaches fear the loss of conditioning and performance if they reduce training for such a long period [two to three weeks] before a major competition. A number of studies make it clear, however, that this fear is totally unwarranted.
The effects on swimming of removing body hair
These scientific studies have shown that the removal of body hair does in fact reduce drag in the water so that shaven swimmers travel further per stroke than they did before shaving.
Time to chill out: a do-it-yourself guide to swim tapering
"Time to taper!” No three words in the endurance athlete’s vocabulary inspire such joy and excitement as the three above.
Transition-Rest-Taper for U.S. Olympic Trials
Tom Dolan's training leading up to the 2000 Olympic Trials
What is a Taper?
Alan Williams explains some of the concepts of a taper for swimmer's and their families; From ASCA.
What's Shaving Down?
Shaving is something of a swimming tradition that often accompanies tapering for a big meet. The rationale behind bodyshaving is that the drag created by body hair is removed, and the swimmer is thus able to go faster.