Conventional wisdom tells us that faster freestyle turnover equals faster speed. If only it were that easy! This might be true for our terrestrial counterparts, runners, but water is about 800 times denser than air. That added resistance means the rules don’t apply in the same way for both runners and swimmers. Additionally, turnover rate and speed don’t share a linear correlation; errors in stroke introduce drag, and as speed increases, this drag coefficient increases exponentially.
Finding the right turnover is personal and based on a swimmer’s height (or wingspan), skill level, tempo (rate of turnover), and stroke length. Tempo is measured in strokes per minute or seconds per stroke. For example, 60 SPM is equivalent to one second for each arm stroke. Stroke length is the distance the body moves forward on every stroke.
More often than not, swimmers stroke at tempos that are too fast—beyond their current skill levels—and are forced to kick too much so they can remain stable. The best device to measure and find your personal turnover rate (or tempo) is use a Finis Tempo Trainer , but a stop watch will do if a tempo trainer is not available.