Turn Performance Variation in European Elite Short-Course Swimmers

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Apr 21;19(9):5033. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19095033.


Turn performances are important success factors for short-course races, and more consistent turn times may distinguish between higher and lower-ranked swimmers. Therefore, this study aimed to determine coefficients of variation (CV) and performance progressions (∆%) of turn performances. The eight finalists and eight fastest swimmers from the heats that did not qualify for the semi-finals, i.e., from 17th to 24th place, of the 100, 200, 400, and 800 (females only)/1500 m (males only) freestyle events at the 2019 European Short Course Championships were included, resulting in a total of 64 male (finalists: age: 22.3 ± 2.6, FINA points: 914 ± 31 vs. heats: age: 21.5 ± 3.1, FINA points: 838 ± 74.9) and 64 female swimmers (finalists: age: 22.9 ± 4.8, FINA points: 904 ± 24.5 vs. heats: age: 20.1 ± 3.6, FINA points: 800 ± 48). A linear mixed model was used to compare inter- and intra-individual performance variation. Interactions between CVs, ∆%, and mean values were analyzed using a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results showed impaired turn performances as the races progressed. Finalists showed faster turn section times than the eight fastest non-qualified swimmers from the heats (p < 0.001). Additionally, turn section times were faster for short-, i.e., 100 and 200 m, than middle- and long-distance races, i.e., 400 to 1500 m races (p < 0.001). Regarding variation in turn performance, finalists showed lower CVs and ∆% for all turn section times (0.74% and 1.49%) compared to non-qualified swimmers (0.91% and 1.90%, respectively). Similarly, long-distance events, i.e., 800/1500 m, showed lower mean CVs and higher mean ∆% (0.69% and 1.93%) than short-distance, i.e., 100 m events (0.93% and 1.39%, respectively). Regarding turn sections, the largest CV and ∆% were found 5 m before wall contact (0.70% and 1.45%) with lower CV and more consistent turn section times 5 m after wall contact (0.42% and 0.54%). Non-qualified swimmers should aim to match the superior turn performances and faster times of finalists in all turn sections. Both finalists and non-qualified swimmers should pay particular attention to maintaining high velocities when approaching the wall as the race progresses.

Keywords: competition analysis; freestyle; performance; race analysis; swimming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Swimming
  • Young Adult