So, you’ve just gotten the hang of swimming! Maybe you have learned a few strokes, and are getting faster every time you workout at the pool. But, when you are actually working out in a pool, there’s one thing to keep in mind: the flip turn. It is a love/hate relationship with the flip turn for new swimmers. There are a few things you need to know to be able to master the turn, but once you do, your performance as a swimmer will sky rocket! This is why we’ve collected some tips to help you execute a great flip turn.
#1 Time Your Breathing
Breathing slows you down. It’s that simple. Lifting your head out of the water is not a streamlined action. Your body position is thrown out of whack and you lose momentum. Since a flip turn is the most crucial past of a lap (for time), avoid taking a breath during the turn!
Instead, plan ahead and take a breath when you would naturally. Just do it a few strokes before you go into your turn. It’s best to start kicking faster about 5m before the wall so you have more momentum to transfer in your flip.
Don’t rush to get to the surface after you push off the wall either. This is when you’re swimming fastest, so take advantage of the extra power. Keep holding your breath until you naturally come to the surface and begin your stroke.
#2 Know Your Legs
We don’t all have legs like Phelps. Some are short, some are long. Some are weak, some are strong (Hey, that rhymed!). The key to momentum in a successful flip turn is how well you push off the wall. And the key to a perfect push-off is distance from the wall.
Ideally, you flip onto your back and your legs make a right angle with the wall. A right angle gives you maximum power. It should look/feel like sitting in a chair. It’s very similar to doing a squat jump, but underwater. It’s best to keep your legs directly in line with your torso. Any movement side to side will just slow you down.
Try to get some force as you push off of the wall. (Image Source)
#3 Tuck Your Head
Looking at the wall may be the worst mistake you can make. It’s natural…you’re about to crash into it! But you can lose all the momentum that you worked so hard to create. The big black T and the end of the lane is 2 meters from the wall. This is the perfect place to take your last arm stroke, and you won’t need to lift your head.
It’s best to tuck your head all the way, so that your chin rests on your chest. It may feel awkward at first, but you will gain a tremendous amount of speed from this small step.
All lap swimming pools are pretty similar, so once you practice the timing a bit, you should feel comfortable with when to start your turn (usually right after the T). Once you have that down, you can flip in any pool without having to look at the wall.
#4 Tight Turn
We’ve all seen figure skaters do this. She’s skating around the rink doing beautiful jumps and turns. Suddenly she brings her arms into her body and starts spinning so fast you can barely see her!
I could get deep into physics here, but it’s really very simple…the smaller you make yourself, the faster you’ll spin. You know how to get into a little ball (fetal position). And I already reminded you to keep your legs aligned with your body to preserve forward motion.
As for the arms, hold them by your side and push down with your palms against the water. This will push it out of the way, propelling you head-over-heels.
#5 Maintain Momentum
Once you push off the wall (on your back), start rotating your body so that you are back on your stomach. You should still be a few feet below the surface.
Begin the butterfly (dolphin) kick immediately, propelling your body forward as its natural buoyancy brings you closer to the surface. This kick will maintain your speed until you can start your stroke again.
Refrain from starting to stroke with your arms, until you have fully reached the surface. This will only create more drag and slow you down. Keep your arms in dive position to stay as streamlined as possible.
With these 5 tips, hopefully you should be seeing an improvement on how the flip turn feels as well as your overall speed while swimming.
Let us know what you think! What helps you while doing a flip turn? Have you seen any improvement?