Originally published May 27, 2005
If you’ve ever complained to your coach that you don’t have enough time to work your turns, then you should be required to perform this drill AT LEAST a few times a day. First, because YOU have ample opportunites as a swimmer to work your turns on EVERY turn, and second, just for complaining to your coach, you should be punished. (Speaking as a coach now) 🙂
If you really work this drill, and, if you really fear doing this drill over and over again, you’ll begin to focus on turns as something to be improved on, rather than gotten through.
Why do it:
This isn’t a very fun drill to do, and because of that, it keeps you on edge, and aware of what you’re doing. Your desire to finish it quickly should help you think about staying tight and quick on your flip. It also has benefits of working the kick after the flip, as you’ll need to go to your legs to start to build some momentum.
How To Do It:
1. Go to the EXACT middle of the pool and tread water while you decide which direction you’re going to head when you start to swim.
2. Start by taking two strokes of freestyle in that direction. Then FLIP and start swimming toward the OPPOSITE end of the pool.
3. Once you’ve started to move again, take three strokes, then flip and head in your original direction.
4. Four strokes, then flip and head in the opposite direction.
5. Five strokes, then flip, etc. etc. etc.
6. Continue this process until you get to the end of the pool. (This may not be the end you were headed for when you first started.)
For many swimmers, this quick process will supply you with 10 to 14 flip-turn opportunities before you can reach the wall. That’s MANY opportunities packed in to a very short time.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
First, you probably shouldn’t do this drill on a full stomach. It requires a lot of flipping, and dizziness can result. To prevent a case of the whirlies, you might want to think about closing your eyes during the flips. This is something that I do all the time (flip with my eyes closed), and I’ve never gotten dizzy. My theory on this is simple: By the time you’ve committed to the turn, your eyes can’t help you at all. It should happen so fast that you’re not able to focus on anything until you push off anyway. But apparently not all swimmers close their eyes during the somersault. I was surprised to learn that our swimmer was about to get sick because he was so dizzy. When I asked, "Do you flip with your eyes open or closed?" He said "open." It was a little easier for him when he tried it with eyes closed.
Don’t cheat yourself. If you’re two strokes away from the wall and your count is up, do the flip and head to the other end. Sure that makes it tough, but it’s basically the way you need to think about training anyway. Don’t worry so much about what you’ve just been through. You MUST focus on the NEXT 15 — or 30 — seconds. Push through just a bit more, THEN rest. It’s usually that little extra stuff that’ll make you a champion anyway.