This is more of a skill than a drill. More of an exercise in awareness than a specific set of steps to learn. It’s more along the lines of a mental note that can be worked on time and time again during practices. It’s about being aware of the little things that you do (or don’t do), and figuring out ways to do them just a little bit better, with a little more efficiency and speed. It’s all in the details. Excellence, that is.
To APPROACH the turn, COMMIT TO the turn, and FLOW THROUGH the turn in one continuous move.
Why the Goal is Important:
A smooth, flowing, continuous turn allows you to carry maximum momentum into the wall. Speed in equals speed out. The more speed you carry into the wall, the faster your flip will be and the more speed and power you’ll be able to generate on the pushoff. A continuous turn saves energy.
How NOT To Do It:
First, on the video, let’s see how NOT to approach your flip turn. As the swimmer approaches the wall to set up for the turn, he lifts his eyes and head to get lined up and to judge his distance from the wall. Notice how his body first goes below the surface, then pops back up, and only then (FINALLY!) sets up for the somersault. Lifting the eyes and head and body like this may FEEL productive, but it creates a lot of drag and resistance and slows you down. Compare that to the turns in which he keeps his body and energy on a straight course right into the flip. His head and shoulders do not lift up or go below the surface.
How to Do It Correctly:
1. A great way to start practicing this efficient move is to practice doing flip turns in the middle of the pool. We don’t show this on the video, but when you flip at mid pool, you won’t have to worry about hitting or missing the wall. Just focus on doing your somersault in one continuous move.
2. Swim 3 to 5 strokes with your eyes looking at the bottom. Then, while moving forward, fall or flow into your somersault in a straight line. If you feel your head or shoulders pop out of the water, you’re trying too hard and actually slowing yourself down.
3. Another idea is to simply follow one of your hands around to initiate a quicker roll. As your recovering hand enters the water and begins its pull cycle, let everything else (arm, shoulder, head,
legs) simply follow the hand under and back, causing your body to fall directly into the rotation.
4. During your practice, pay attention to how you set up for each turn. You’ll feel your body pop up just before your turn. Work on NOT popping up, and on allowing your body to flow directly into the turn.
Most swimmers set up for their flip turns as if they were a male high school senior lifting weights and trying to look cool for the girls. They give it everything they’ve got ‘ grunting, shouting, and contorting the ENTIRE BODY’when all it takes to get the job done is to isolate ONE MUSCLE. The best, most efficient way to lift weights is to control and minimize your movements. Isolating the key muscle or muscle group is the best way to improve.
The same goes for flip turns. You can set up your turns with a lot of small (sometimes not-so-small) up and down movements. This can make you FEEL powerful, but it’s actually not so effective as staying low and heading straight and into your turn. Extraneous moves and up-and-down effort can add 100ths or even 10ths of a second to each turn. In a sport measured in 100ths of a second, can you really afford these added moves?