Habits arise from repetition. When you perform an activity the same way every day, it becomes a routine that can be carried out without consciously thinking about it. This allows your brain to concentrate on other more important things and not worry about the routine. Sometimes, however, habits we develop might be harmful to us. In swimming, a bad habit developed during training might significantly impair performance during competition. Grabbing onto the gutter wall and pulling yourself forward during the fly or breaststroke turn is one such habit.
Typically the top edge of the wall that separates the pool and the gutter is slightly above the surface of the water. The position of the wall makes it very tempting to grab onto in order to pull forward and achieve a faster turn. It is not unusual to see the following:
During the fly or breaststroke, the swimmer approaches the wall and:
- grabs with one hand onto the gutter wall
- pulls himself forward
- makes a turn
Swimmers do that because they can complete the turn faster while spending less energy. In a short period of time, the swimmer that keeps executing turns in this fashion develops a bad habit of always looking for something to grab onto during the turn. This habit carries two serious consequences.
First, if a swimmer never practices the proper turn during training, he cannot expect to have a fast turn during competition. Practicing turns is just as essential as training speed and endurance. Even if an athlete is a fast swimmer, slow turns will likely to keep him away from the podium.
Second, a swimmer that doesn’t practice proper and legal turns during training is more likely to get disqualified during a meet. A swimmer who is used to grabbing onto the gutter wall with one hand is more likely to touch the wall with one hand during a competition. USA Swimming rules and regulations clearly state, “At each turn, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously...”. Violation of this rule results in disqualification.
To solve the gutter-grabbing problem and help swimmers develop proper “touch turn” habits, we designed and created a portable wall called AquaVolo TNT Wall that can be easily attached to any gutter wall. Once attached, it prevents swimmers from grabbing on the gutter wall and forces them to perform turns in proper and legal ways. The TnT Wall eliminates any temptation to use the gutter wall as a support, preventing and eliminating bad habits.