How Swimmers Tapered in 1968 – George Haines Training (Video)

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.

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Peter davis

Awesome video. It’s 1966, mostly shot at Santa Clara HS, with the long course mornings at Fremont Hills CC, and the competition footage at Foothill JC. And no, that’s not me losing to Spitz in both the IM and the Fly, that’s my old man. Thanks for this!

We were just going off the copyright for the date….forget that back then you can’t presume turnaround in hours from filming to release. 🙂

Peter davis

Haha for sure


That 1967 Santa Clara High School Team was arguably the best high school team ever. Interesting comparison of that team with the great Bolles team of 2012 on that other website


Pretty sure George just invented the first USRPT sets in that video.

No goggles — 4 hours a day in chlorine. Those were the days.

Lane Four

I remember the eyes stinging so bad after workouts you would put your eyes under the water faucet to stop the burning.


And buying Visine by the case. Or swiping it from your friends if they had some. It didn’t make your eyes feel any better, but took the red out…

Even when we did transition to training with goggles (I remember when that happened distinctly) – nobody raced in them. And caps? Only for girls. Girls with long hair. My goodness we were cavemen and cavewomen.

Hulk Swim

That was awesome. Its clear that Haines and SCSC set the standard that almost all large clubs today follow in some fashion or another. They are pretty much the model. That said, I could watch starts from that era on a continuous loop for days and days. Holy cow they were pretty much belly flopping. In one of the races towards the end, one guy arched so hard he was in a U shape till about 2 inches off the surface. I’m stunned they went as fast as they did with crap suits, no goggles, no caps, no underwaters, crap dives, crap streamlines, cap lane lines, shallow pools, no back flip turns and some caveman breaststroke. 1:59 200y IM for… Read more »


That 1:59 must’ve been when he was a sophomore in high school. He went 1.54.1 in 1967 as a junior in high school, along with a 49.1 in the 100 fly — both American records. As a high school senior, he set American records in the 100 (45.6); 200 (1:40.5) & 500 (3:38.0) frees.

There’s a side-by-side video comparison of Spitz and Phelps swimming fly somewhere on the web. The biggest difference between them was how high Spitz had to bring his head up to breath to clear all the wake from the wavy pools back in the day.

He would still probably get a D1 scholarship with those times today.


Spitz had the IU varsity record in the 200 fly until a few years ago, IIRC.


13 years ago.

Spitz held the record at 1:46.90 from 1972 until Murph Halasz broke it in 2004 with a 1:44.81.
It’s been broken several more times since then but he remains the 11th fastest performer in their history. Pretty impressive.

cynthia curran

He was like Phelps great at three strokes and fair at breaststroke, I mean for an elite level swimmer.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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