Elite Swimmers Are Superior at the Swim Turn

Elite Swimmers Are Superior at the Swim Turn to Subelite Swimmers

admin Blog, Dr. John Mullen, Dryland, Latest&Greatest, Training 1 Comment

The swim turn is usually divided into 5 distinct stages that include (a) inward-turn, (b) rotation, (c) push-off, (d) underwater, and (d) outward-turn.

Past research suggests swimmers with higher peak forces have faster turn time, reduced wall contact time, and greater mean impulse than slower swimmers (Blanksby 1996; Chow 1984; Takahashi 1982). However, more modern research is needed to analyze modern turning styles and compare this to force production on land.

Jones (2019) analyzed a total of 43 swimmers (ranging from age 16 to 29 years and consisting of 19 females and 24 males). All swimmers were part of a national squad of swimmers selected by Swimming Australia and were tested in the early phase of their off-season preparation within their yearly plan.

The first group was divided into male and female swimmers as members of Swimming Australia’s Talent Identification (under 18) Squad during a camp conducted at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The second group comprised male and female elite-level swimmers from Swimming Australia’s National Senior Team.

In the water, each swimmer then performed 3 maximal effort tumble turns, with a 3-minute rest period between each swim turn. The researcher’s described their assessment as follows:

“The swimmer swam from 20 m out toward the wall at full speed, undertook the tumble turn, and swam at maximal effort back out to the 20-m mark. This distance allowed for capture of the full 15 m into the wall and back out to the 15-m mark as the overall turn time. Kinematic and kinetic turn data were obtained using a proprietary force plate system (“Wetplate”) instrumented and mounted within the pool wall.”

On land the swimmers “performed 3 unloaded and 3 loaded (20 kg females and 30 kg males) maximal effort squat jumps (SJs), with a 2-minute rest period between each jump while standing on a uniaxial force plate (400 Series Performance Force Plate, Fitness Technology, Australia) interfaced with commercially available computer software (Ballistic Measurement System, Innervations, Melbourne, Australia).”

The results of the study showed the elite swimmers were superior in all aspects of the tumble turn. However, the biggest difference was in the overall swim turn time, with the males being ~1.0 seconds faster than the subelite swimmers and the female elite swimmers being 0.7 seconds faster than the subelite.

During the dryland tasks, the elite swimmers created more force during all 5 parameters for loaded and unloaded tasks.

In general, the elite male swimmers were ~30-50% more powerful than the subelite males.

In general, the elite female swimmers were ~35-45% more powerful than the subelite females.

Future Swim Turn Studies

Next studies need to asses if strength and power training can improve dryland force production and tumble turn time or if simply working on tumble turn biomechanics is the best method for improvement.

What do you think?


  1. Jones, J., Pyne, D., Haff, G., & Newton, R. (2018). Comparison between elite and subelite swimmers on dry land and tumble turn leg extensor force-time characteristics. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,32(6), 1762-1769. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000002041

Comments 1

  1. “During the dryland tasks, the elite swimmers created more force ”

    How much more force? Was it statistacally significant?

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