As a coach I cringe when people do lousy open turns in the pool. Most swimmers pull themselves up SO high on the wall (maybe there is extra air up there) then turn, look at the other end of the pool, and push off chest facing the end of the pool and head out of the water (putting on the brakes). There are many excuses for not learning a flip turn: there are no walls in a triathlon, I get dizzy, I go sideways, I get water up my nose, I might hit my heels (yes that does hurt!) and the list goes on. Watch kids playing at the pool during the summer. There is always a contest at some point – who can do the most somersaults in a row? Somehow they figure out how to keep the air going out of their noses (exhalation) as they go around and around. So why as adults do we have such trouble? We over think it all.
There are a few things you do need to be able to do before learning how to do a flip turn. You need to be able to blow bubbles. You need to be able to hold a streamline position off the wall. You need to be able to judge distance to the wall (there is a handy T at the end of most lanes).
If you really aren’t ready to do a flip turn, then at least get off the wall without putting the brakes on. It is okay to glide in to grab the wall with your dominant hand. Once you have your hand on the wall, then facing the side of the pool, swing your legs to the wall like a pendulum. Place them on the wall with your toes pointing to the same side wall that you are looking at (no need to see who is at the end of the pool now). Plant you feet a little closer to your hands than you might think. If your feet are really low on the wall then you will come right to the surface as you push off. You are still facing the side of the pool. Drop the shoulder that is pointed to the other end of the pool. Drop it under the water. Drop your head under the water. Push off the wall still on your side. Now your body is fully under water and you can rotate onto your belly and in the streamline position.
Just learning to push off the wall this way will save a triathlete energy which can be put into the swim stroke. So now do you really need to learn flip turns? My wisdom says yes. You will expend less energy doing a flip turn than an open turn over 3,000 yards. Some will argue that you don’t have walls in a triathlon – correct but why do a slow open turn? Some will say you get more momentum/speed off a flip turn. If you are worried about losing yardage do an extra 200 at the end of your workout. If you do flip turns you will be able to better keep up with the Masters swimmers. You want to keep up with them to learn how to draft. If you do an open turn you will have to work twice as hard to get back into their draft. One final reason to learn how to do a flip turn – it is just cooler and no one can argue that.
Team LUNA Chix Albany Triathlon is giving everyone in the Capital District of New York a chance to learn how to do a flip turn (no jokes, no jeering). The team is hosting a swim clinic for men and women on November 18, 2012 at 4pm at the Southern Saratoga Y. The Y is located at One Wall Street, Clifton Park, NY 12065. It costs $25 with all the money going to the Breast Cancer Fund and the Barracudas Swim Team. You do not have to be a Y member to participate, just come a few minutes early to sign a waiver. There will also be a drills session and stroke critiques for all. This is a great chance to learn how to be more efficient and improve your winter workouts for a faster, easier swim in 2013. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to pay and reserve your spot. You must reserve your spot through the LUNA Chix as the Y will not be taking reservations.