Effect of tumble turns on swimming performance in level 3 swimmers
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Swimming, as a sport, is constantly developing, both through the resources employed in training and assessment, and through the technological development of the fundamental aspects of swimming. In the freestyle events, swimmers spend between 38% and 50% of their competition time executing turns in short pool competitions over distances that vary from 50 m to 1500 m. The importance of the turn has been noted and analyzed for several decades, where it was found that the final turn velocity was second only to mid-pool swimming velocity for determining a medal finish in the men’s race. Due to the impact that the tumble turn has on swimming performance, the present study investigated the importance of the tuck index, foot-plant index and wall-contact time (WCT) on swimming performance. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of the tuck index, foot-plant index, and WCT on the round trip time (RTT) in the tumble turn performance in level 3 swimmers in the freestyle swimming stroke. A quantitative cross-sectional and descriptive design was used in this study. A convenient sample of ten (10) swimmers were tested, five male and five female, all being level 3 swimmers affiliated to the high performance team of Swimming South Africa (SSA). Video analyses of the turns were recorded. Each subject performed thirty (30) trials, each consisting of a 50 m freestyle swim with flip turns at race pace. Descriptive statistics and multiple stepwise regression analyses were used to analyse the data. A p-value of below 0.05 indicated statistical significance. The mean tuck index was 0.57 ± 0.14°. The mean foot-plant index was 0.45 ± 0.10 cm. The mean WCT was 74.31 ± 11.57 %. The mean RTT was 2.47 ± 0.40 s. A significant negative correlation was found between tuck index and RTT (r = -0.41; p < 0.05). No significant relationship was found between foot-plant and WCT. Further regression analysis showed that the tuck index was a significant predictor of RTT (F = 21.745, p < 0.001). Following the freestyle tumble turn, the flutter kick technique remained the superior method of exiting the wall, based on the 5 m RTT. Therefore, the introduction of optimal turning practice for age-group swimmers is likely to result in significant reductions in turning times and should be noted by coaches and swimmers alike.