To flip or not to flip, that is the question for open water swimmers

Many of my triathletes over the years have commented to me: “Why should I bother learning to flip, I swim in open water.  We don’t have walls”.  I quickly respond “Exactly.  That’s why you should flip.”  Doing open turns, or worse, a slow two-handed turn, gives you a chance to rest that open water will never give you.  I have counted swimmers taking up to five breaths on an open turn. More if they actually stop and rest, even for a just a second or two.  This “aerobic break” every 25 yards will hurt your yardage continuity.

This is when I remind athletes of their own words.  “Open water does not have walls.  You will not get a nice extra three, five, or more breaths every 25 yards.”  In order to keep up the aerobic continuity, you need to get off the walls without taking a break.

The best way to do that is…. you guessed it…. flip.

Flips don’t take long to learn, but it does take a while to get consistent.  The more you do the sooner you will be comfortable and consist with doing flip turns.  So get going.

For my beginners, I realize a flip may be more advanced then you are ready for.  As a stepping stone, learn a clean, one-handed, open turn and work on getting in and out without resting. Advance to a flip as your skills improve.

Up Next: Race Pace Training

Leave a Comment