Advanced Flip Turns with video

This is part three in a three-part series on Flip Turns.  Part I and Flip Turns: “Learning the basics”video addressed the steps of learning to flip and included a video breakdown of the key steps and, an effective learning drill.  In part II discussed the most common errors and the video “Flip Turns: Errors and Corrections” video. Today’s video looks at a few advanced concepts:

  • When to start your flip: This is probably the most common question I hear. I can only give you a starting point guideline. The rest will depend on How tall you are and how fast you swim. The taller and faster swimmer will need to flip further from the wall. Using the T on the bottom of the pool as a guide try taking your last stroke as you cross over the T like our swimmer. You can then decide if you need more or less distance from the wall. When you are first learning to flip you will probably need to start closer to the wall. Your flip will be slower and carry less momentum into the wall.  As you get better you will need to flip further away.
  • Using hand counter-pressure. In Part I video we discussed how “the hands push against the water to help the legs come over, but It is critical to hold the hands stable.” Bending your elbow can be effective way to increase the amount of pressure you are able to use. More pressure can help your heels snap over quicker. When doing an elbow bend, don’t forget to keep your palms facing the bottom, for an effective push, and the hands close to the body, to get to a quick streamline. I find this extremely helpful for the heavier or less flexible swimmer.
  • Feet Placement: As your feet come over, their placement on the wall will impact your push off. If your feet are too high you will angle downward and get too deep. Conversely, too high on the wall and you will ‘pop’ up to the surface too quickly. You must drive the feet through to the level of your hips to ensure a proper trajectory off the wall.
  • Rolling: As soon as your feet have come over, push off. Don’t delay. Until you push off, you are not moving forward, don’t sit there for even one moment longer to roll over.  As the legs extend in the push off, roll slightly over 90 degrees. This will put you on your side ready for your first stroke.
  • Kick off the wall: After you push off you need to start kicking, but how far should you kick? We see top swimmers kicking 15 yards underwater should you? Here is what you need to consider:
    • How strong is your kick? Only stay underwater for as long as you can kick faster than you can swim at the surface. Not everyone’s kick is strong enough to be faster than their swim.
    • Watch for oxygen debt. If you are doing only a 50 you may be able to depend on our anaerobic (non-air) energy system. Beyond that you will need to work up your aerobic capacity. If you stay under water off of each wall longer than your aerobic capacity is ready for, you will go into oxygen debt, slowing down your overall speed.
    • Once you are at the surface, swim! I too often see someone at the surface just kicking. Just kicking is only faster when you are underwater, away from the friction and turbulence of the surface. If you have come up to surface, to maximize speed, get your stroke going.

To wrap up this three-part, end-to-end look at flip turns I would like to set expectations for the learner. Most swimmers can learn to do the basic flip turn in just a few practice sessions. However, to truly master a smooth and consistent flip takes doing thousands of flips. Luckily you can be doing 50 or 100 or more at every swim practice. These will add up and you will get more consistent with practice. Share your journey of learning flip turns or ask the coach a question on flip turns below.

Up Next: Clarify the new “Lochte” rule on pushing off the wall.

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