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Turns – Flip Turn Variations

Flip turns. Once you’ve learned how to get your feet over, you may think you’ve got them mastered. But think again.


While there’s nothing wrong with the standard flip turn (heck, we’ve devoted many drills to the standard flip), there’s nothing wrong with searching for that extra edge. Over the years we’ve seen elite athletes take the standard move and find a way to make it their own — to develop a style that feels more productive to them than having the legs come over fairly close together.

Why Do It:

We love to encourage you to experiment all the time with your technique. Sometimes the things that you’re the MOST satisfied with need to be tweaked just a bit to keep you from getting complacent or stale. Remember, you have to always think MORE about things you’ve turned into habits. There’s always a chance you’ve made a habit of something incorrect. I other words, don’t get lazy even with the things you really think you’ve "GOT".

How to Do It:

1. 
Start with your standard flip turn, which means your feet are next to each other as you somersault. (If this isn’t your standard flip… play along with me here). The feet come over easily and prepare for the push. Nice job.

2. Now let’s try something that Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen taught us… the SPLIT-foot turn. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart as they’re coming over. What could be the benefits of this type of turn? Well, since the feet aren’t connected, each of them creates a smaller area, and this can potentially allow you to spin quicker. Your feet will also land on the wall in a very stable position.

3. How about trying a "Tom Dolan" turn? While it may seem a bit unorthodox, it’s not as if you can argue with success. Because he was a distance swimmer, people may think his turns aren’t the best, but remember: Olympic Champions are pretty darn good at EVERYTHING compared to the rest of us.

Tom used to cross his feet during his flip. What could possibly be the advantage to this? With the feet crossed, the trailing foot can be hidden by the front leg from the resistance of the water. This can allow a pretty quick turn. When the feet hit the wall, they’ll be a bit criss-crossed as you begin your push, but your body will uncoil like a knotted pretzel, torquing you over to your side for your first powerful pull.

4. Hide the feet totally. One fun trick is to try to do a flip turn while keeping your feet as close to the surface as possible, rather than FLIPPING them high in the air. What can be the advantage to this? You don’t expend as much energy if you "rest" your feet on the surface. Also, the closer your feet are to the surface, the tighter you’re going to have to get your body. And the tighter you get your body, the faster you can spin… hence… a quicker turn.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

When you think about it, all these things ARE fine points. Give them all a try, find out the points of benefit, and find out how awkward they each feel in their own right. Are ANY of these turns meant for you? You’ll never know unless you try.