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Friday, July 25, 2008

Flip Turns

As a triathlete, I race in open water. However, I practice at the pool once a week. I proudly wear my LA Tri Club swim cap to proclaim to my master swim group that yes I swim slowly, but I run AND bike too!

Nonetheless, I've gotten the urge to learn to do a flip turn. My grab-the-wall-and-push-off technique is pretty well streamlined, but real swimmers do flip turns.

The way the flip turn should go is, flip over, push off with feet onto back, turn onto stomach, and swim.

Mine goes something like this:

One stroke to go before hitting wall. Look up and hesitate fearfully. Take deep breath.

Flip over. Realize, I'm flipped over, don't inhale.

Panic and inhale, getting water up nose.

Search for wall with feet.

Push off. Be surprised by random direction in which I am pushing off. Sometimes launching to bottom of pool. Other times diagonally toward oncoming swimmer.

Panic again with water up nose. Eventually hit surface. Cough.

Proceed with stroke.

I need a *lot* of practice with flip turns. For now, though, the grab-the-wall-and-push technique is working well enough.
Image from


Anonymous said...

Hehe I felt just the same when I began swimming, my coaches would always yell at me as I continued to not use flip turns. But then I practised and practised it, seriously its worth the effort. It's so much less energy then the grab, turn, push method and much faster. Just keep practising it, it'll feel dumb and crazy at first, and will look so too, but it's easier and faster in the long swim.

heartsaver said...

Have you seen the NYT article on recent Triathlon deaths? Here is the link:

It was published 7/28, I believe.

I hope all is well.

Juan Rivera

Vegan Run Amok said...

Ha ha! My flip turn goes: "You know, I should really learn to do flip turns. Yeah. I'm going to do that. Maybe, you know, next year."

So you're WAY ahead of me! :)

Allison said...

One of the best tips to mastering a flip turn, is try to get a lane to your self (I know, its really, really hard-- try to bribe the lifeguard or a coach) First spend a bit of time doing somersaults in the water, to get used to the flipping without worrying about pushing off. Then practice approaching the wall, flip and stop don't worry about stroking out. Once you are comfortable with that, swim into the wall and do a full flip turn.