The concept of "working your turns" is something all swimmers know about, but few swimmers take seriously. Maybe they think they don’t have time, or are too tired to create QUICK and FAST walls. Here’s a drill that will help. For the younger swimmers especially, this proves to be a good drill, and fun.
Why Do It:
Think about it. Turns feel very different in a race than they do in practice. When you’re swimming at race pace, the wall comes up quicker, and there’s not as much time to think. Your body is traveling faster, and the extra momentum on the flip will carry you closer to the wall. This can really throw off your timing. Bottom line…you need a way to practice turns at race pace during PRACTICE.
How To Do It:
1. Hang on to the wall (or stand in the shallow end) and pick a target as your "turning point." For most swimmers this will be the first set of flags or just a little beyond.
2. Push off the wall with as much force as you can.
3. Start kicking as fast and hard as possible to build immediate speed, and then take 1 or 2 race-pace strokes to reach your target point.
4. At the highest speed, FLIP, KICK, and SWIM back to the wall at race pace.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
As you turn, you may have a tendency to rotate TOO far, or to allow the feet to drop below the body. Try to keep your feet close to the surface, and begin the kick AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
If you’re working with young swimmers, try to build a bit of panic into the swimmer to get back to the wall QUICKLY. One suggestion is to make sure they don’t take any breaths!
Finish by practicing some regular flip turns at the wall, but FLIP FASTER than a normal practice turn.
(Originally published Feb. 24, 2006.)