Here’s a cool blast from the past: the International Swimming Hall of Fame has published a 1960’s-era documentary featuring some early training philosophies concerning the all-important concept of “taper.”
You can view the video above, courtesy of the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s profile on YouTube. It’s just under 20 minutes long, and centers on legendary U.S. coach George Haines during his time as the head coach of the Santa Clara Swim Club.
The video follows Haines and some of his top swimmers, including a young man chasing a national high school record: a boy by the name of Mark Spitz.
(You might not recognize him in the video because, believe it or not, this is pre-mustache-era Spitz. Some of us weren’t sure there even was such a thing.)
Haines coached seven different U.S. Olympic swim teams over the course of his career, while also coaching at Santa Clara, the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford University.
A true coaching icon, Haines founded the Santa Clara Swim Club in 1950, and coached all the way through 1988, overseeing some huge changes in the philosophy of swim coaching along the way.
Even in this video, you can see the effects of Haines’ coaching strategies still in effect today. The video lays out some ground-breaking ideas that are now all but taken for granted within the sport, including the idea of a “taper” or cutting down yardage late in the season to give athletes rest and provide more opportunities to work on speed and race details.
It’s a fascinating watch, both for the training philosophies and the old-time remnants of the sport – swimmers swim without goggles, the classic arm-throw start is in vogue and each stroke’s technique looks vastly different.
Article originally published September 23, 2015.