While nearly every swimmer aspires to learn the flip turn, there are times when an open turn — done properly — is your best option. Here’s a fun drill that is step #1 in the learning process for a fast and efficient open turn.
Why Do It:
While a fast flip turn is the ultimate way to reverse directions at the wall, none of us was BORN doing a flip.
Most of us were born doing something more like this, or this.
But what some swimmers have discovered is that if they do something like THIS. they can execute a turn that is just as fast , if not faster , than a flip turn.
By skipping the somersault, they feel more in control at the wall and can consistently get positioned for a strong pushoff.
By getting that extra bit of air, they can go farther on the pushoff and can carry more speed into the breakout than if they tried to do these things after a flip.
This swimmer is demonstrating one of the most common mistakes that swimmers make on their open turn, which is PULLING IN to the wall. Pulling in may FEEL like the right thing to do (why else would they put that nice LIP on the edge of the pool?), but it actually slows you down.
When swimmers pull IN to the wall, they invariably lift UP to get their air. And when they lift up, their body goes out of balance and they lose speed and momentum. This can also be hard on the shoulders.
When it comes to turns, the big rule to remember is that speed in equals speed out. The more speed you carry IN to the wall, the faster you will turn and the more speed you will carry OFF the wall.
Your open turns will be faster, more efficient, and actually EASIER if you don’t use the wall to pull yourself in. Notice how this swimmer touches the wall and then simply collapses or FOLDS into the wall.
The fingertips touch, and the head and shoulders continue to SLIDE forward until they meet the hand.
Here’s another angle. The hand touches the wall, and the swimmer continues to slide IN to the wall.
In this drill, you’ll be learning just one aspect of the open turn, how to reverse directions without using your hands to pull you in. Remember. This is Step #1 of a 4-part sequence. This will seem pretty basic, but just try it and please trust us that this will lead you where you want to go.
How to Do It:
Get a pull buoy. You can do this drill WITHOUT a pull buoy, but using one will give you a better feel for correct body position as you approach the wall.
Put the pull buoy in place, then kick GENTLY into the wall, with both arms extended.
When your fingertips touch the wall, keep looking DOWN at the bottom and simply let your body FOLD into the wall, until your forehead touches the wall.
Then, without looking up or taking a breath, push AWAY from the wall until your arms are fully extended. Keep your body horizontal, and glide AWAY from the wall. As you push away, remember to EXHALE so that you don’t get water up your nose.
Don’t try to set any speed records. Kick gently into the wall, fold up slowly, then UNFOLD slowly. Try to keep your body level on the water. And fight the instinct to grab the wall and pull in and up.
Once you get the hang of it, try kicking into the wall with one arm extended and the other arm trailing by your side. Keep your body horizontal on the way in AND on the way out. Remember: Speed in equals speed out, and you will carry more speed into the wall if your body is low and horizontal as you touch.
When the fingertips touch, the elbow bends and your body and head continue to slide into the wall until the forehead touches the hand. Then gently push AWAY from the wall, until your arm is once again fully extended.
Try this several times with your good arm.
Then try it several times with your less comfortable arm. You won’t always be able to turn on your good arm, so you need to learn how to turn on BOTH arms.
Here’s an image that you can take to the pool with you. Stay low and level on the approach. Fold IN to the wall. Stay low and level as you push STRAIGHT BACK from the wall. Have fun with this one… and stay tuned for Step #2.