Sunday, May 07, 2006


OK, I'm tired of the freeway warning sign ("NON-SWIMMER") that flashes at each end of the pool every time I do one of my wussy open turns rather than gracefully flipping and gliding back the other way. HELP.

Any grown-up who successfully mastered the flip turn at some time other than when you were swimming competitively as a toddler is kindly requested to weigh in on the best way to learn and the tricks of the trade. Persons offering general commentary in the nature of "practice" will be systematically hunted down.


tri-mama said...

This is going to be so not helpful- I don't flip turn. I can do them, but not well, so I don't. I rationalize there are no flips in open water, so they are not essential. To overcome the "I'm a moron swimmer" feeling, I just use the a quick turn like butterfly and breast strokers use. It is a matter of timing and a big breath before you flip-if that helps.

Kevin B said...

Just learned about 2 months ago, and I really don't use it that much unless I want to go for fast times in the pool. Why, becuase even a merry-go-round makes me feel pukey. Going round and round in a pool is not the greatest thing for my head. Anyhoo - The class started in the deep end. We practiced swimming to the wall and just doing a somersault in the water before the wall. This was done to get used to gauging when we should start the flip-turn. The instructor then showed-us that it is really just a 1/2 sommersault with a twist and a push off the wall. We practiced this a couple of times. The instructor then had us do the 1/2 flip-turns for 2 lengths of the pool - swim a couple of strokes and flip. We then practiced for the rest of the class. After this class I took notice that quite a few triathletes do not know how to flip-turn. Hopefully, sometime in the future I can incorporate the whole thing into my swim routine. AS of now I am still focusing on learning drills, working on my stroke (really more like a continual beating of the water) and trying to bilateral breathe. Good luck, and hopefully you were one of those kids who would gleefully roll down a hill.

Jessi said...

You should check out Rachel's post about it:

Chris said...

Take it step by step. First, practice swimming and doing a complete summersault in the middle of the pool so that you are facing forward the same direction you were swimming when you stop (this is usually harder than you think for most folks - they end up all kinds of crooked). Do that a bunch - take a couple strokes and summersault, rinse and repeat.

After you've mastered that, you're ready to try it closer to the wall. What I'd do at this point would be to do a half summersault and stop with your feet against the wall and with you looking directly up towards the ceiling. You're trying to master distance to the wall here and not be too far away that you miss the wall, but not too close that you "jam" yourself.

Once you're comfortable with distance, practice doing that and pushing off the wall straight on your back. If you can get here, a lot of the final push off is just a minor tweaking at this point. Some swimmers I know push off on their backs and roll over as they have momentum. Some folks kind of pseudo twist at the last second so they're pushing off on their side and continue the roll that way.

Mastering the midpool summersault and gauging distance from the walls are the keys, I think. Oh, and blowing out constantly so you don't get water up your nose helps too. Good luck! :)

Spence said...

I'm still workin' the flip - I think I learned it at age 11 and then promptly forgot it because I had to start all over again in masters. Right now I can do maybe one flip out of three turns for every 100. I run out of air.

Anyway - my coach has a website about swimming and technique and she recently filmed me and one of my teammates demonstrating the beginning of a flip turn. Combine this drill with Chris's excellent suggestions will have you well on your way.

Once you get the basic technique down, I find it's actually easier to practice while wearing fins and swimming faster toward the wall - your momentum will help carry you over.

OH, and there's no shame in doing an open turn - just learn how to make it clean and fast and you can be proud!!!

21st Century Mom said...

I do flip turns but they are not fast and graceful - oh no! They are slow and clumsy. I'm with Tri-Mama; there are no flipturns in open water so don't sweat it.

If you must, try using the lane lines (with permission) to practice the feel of flipping over fast. Also, remember that when a basketball player wants to make a jumpshot s/he doesn't crouch all the way to the floor. You don't need to get so close to the wall that your knees are fully bent.

I still say skip it - I'm pretty sure I can do an open turn faster than I do a flip turn, anyhow.