There Are No Walls in Open Water
My name is Steve, and I flip/tumble turn, whatever you want to call it.
Do you have to do a flip turn as a triathlete? I am a pretty decent swimmer. Not to brag or anything, I just really enjoy being in the lane and hammering a good 1 hour workout.
It is no secret that a flip turn is the fastest way to change direction, if it wasn’t, I am sure Phelps wouldn’t be doing it. I have read stats that state it can take 0:02/length off your split time. Depending on your pool length (most are 25m) that can add up. Like I have said before, free speed, I’ll take it.
With all of my reading, I have also come across many opinions that as a triathlete you should be doing flip turns, because in a race there are no walls for you to take an extra breath. Most people feel that you need to simulate as close as possible to an open water swim in the pool, this means no extra breath. As I swam my 800m pull set at lunch today, I starting thinking about flip turns and if they are beneficial to a triathlete in the pool.
At least I think it was 800m. I may have lost count. Sorry.
To execute my turn, here are my steps;
Take a breath at the T, about 2 strokes from the wall
Turn (insert meaningless instructions here)
Take 1 to 2 strokes before I breath the other way. This takes 2 body lengths past the flags.
The whole process takes about to the count of 6, counting to match my arm turnover. So that means with every turn, 25m in my pool, I am pausing for a count of 6 to turn.
I am a bilateral breather; meaning that I breath on odd strokes. 3-5-7, you get the idea. It is important for any open water swimmer to breath bilaterally, but that is not the topic of this post. So I breath every 3 strokes (sometimes 5 if I am feeling good) then pause to turn at a count of 6, then return to breathing every 3 strokes.
Now imagine, pretty easy for a triathlete, that you are swimming toward the first buoy with 200 of your closest friends. You are humming right along, breathing every 3 strokes, sighting well. After about 4 breaths, you decide to hold your breath for a cycle, breathing on the 6th, then return to breathing every 3. No problem right?
Yeah, seems pretty crazy hey?
Long story short; you can’t simulate open water swimming in a pool. We try certain drills like closing our eyes, sighting the coach, or distance swims but it isn’t the same. I don’t think that you need to be able to flip turn as a triathlete. You swim workout will yield the same results without ’em.
So if you can flip/tumble turn, good for you. It looks cool and impresses the newbies to the club.
If you can’t, no worries mate. You are still rockin’ it in the pool with everyone else, probably at a time that most of the city hasn’t thought of waking up yet.
Question: Do you flip turn? Was it easy to learn?
By the way, if you want to learn how to flip turn, check out this video. It is the best I have found to date.