Michael Stott, SwimmingWorld.com
May 29, 2020
Let me set the stage. It is opening night at an ASCA World Clinic. USA Swimming national team member Paul Zaich corrals and pitches me on the virtues of the FINIS Turnmaster. As a high school coach I was always looking for ways to maximize lane space, so I was instantly intrigued by the possibilities the Turnmaster offered. Having heard his full spiel, I gave him my card for a drawing. Forty-eight hours later I won and got that prized piece of chlorine-resistant fiberglass. Since then thousands of swimmers and other coaches worldwide have benefitted from the FINIS Turnmaster.
For those unfamiliar with the Turnmaster, it is a portable lane-sized bulkhead designed to maximize lane usage. Easily installed, it is suspended between two lane ropes, dividing one lane into two adding additional wall space. The bulkhead extends across pool lanes and is built to withstand the impact of race-speed turns. Best of all, it gives greater utility to any practice environment.
Maximize Space – The Essential Post-Covid Training Tool
In this abnormal pandemic period, administrators and coaches are searching for ways to reengage and reestablish some sort of aquatic norm. Everyone wants water time. The good news is there is plenty of it. The bad, incorporating social distancing and safe sanitary protocols prohibit even semi-mass gatherings. So the trick becomes how to institute USA Swimming safe practice protocols in the most efficient manner…
One way: consider the Turnmaster to divide lanes into smaller segments, essentially doubling lane capacity.
Product benefits are plentiful and offer unending opportunities for creativity says Turnmaster inventor Bill Kirby, an Australian Commonwealth Games medalist (silver – 200m butterfly) and relay world record holder with the likes of Michael Klim, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett.
Endless Possibilities To Maximize Limited Pool Space
Since it was first manufactured in 2002 more than 2,500 coaches across the globe utilized the Turnmaster on a daily basis. Mark Sedlak, director of aquatics at Velo-Ct in Norwalk, Conn. says “I have just begun mapping out setup ideas for when we re-open. We have probably used them in every way possible. We have six long course lanes and no bulkhead. We use the Turnmasters as our middle walls. I like to think we are the only facility that has ever had LC meters, SC meters and SC yards setup at the same time.”
Kirby’s experience is insightful for ways to take advantage of product versatility. At times he has set the FINIS Turnmaster walls at 10m from the pool end and had swimmers do four lap challenges – only permitting swimmers to do underwater streamlining/kicking and fly turns. “These are completed either side by side over two lanes or done in circuit type rotations through stations of different skills where athletes are timed by a coach and results compared,” he says.
“Coaches can do warmup drills limiting the amount kicks allowed in each lap. This forces swimmers to get as much propulsion from each kick as possible. Once a swimmer gets to three kicks or less it becomes a matter of extending the glide between the kicks and off the wall, which further emphasizes the need for a strong and streamlined body position. An example is: do each 4 laps with 5 kicks rest on 60 seconds, 4 laps with 4 kicks only, rest, 4 laps 3 kicks, rest, 4 laps 2 kicks and so on.
“It really taxes the lungs and requires good efficiency to go fast and repeat the efforts. In my day we set the wall at 10m as this was a standard push off. Now with much better swimmers off the walls and underwater you can put the wall further out and get the same improvements. The benefit of the Turnmaster is you can put it anywhere and gradually increase the distances as the swimmers grow, thus improving their capacity,” Kirby says.
FINIS president John Mix recalls that when Turnmasters were put into lanes during warmups at the Santa Clara Grand Prix any number of the world’s best swimmers made a beeline for those lanes in order to maximize pre-competition preparation.
How’s that for validation.
FYI. FINIS offers two Turnmaster models which retail from $2,300 to $2,900. Coaches will tell you that it is a small price to pay for value gained in swimmer improvement.