Freestyle - Waterfall Flips

Jun 30, 2006
Freestyle - Waterfall Flips

Whenever I work with someone, I pick up something new. When you work with someone like Dave Durden, head coach of men's and women's swimming at the University of Maryland, you pick up a LOT of new things.


Over the past month, I've had a chance to spend three weekends on deck with Dave. One of the most interesting drills I've learned from him is something called Waterfall Flips. He incorporated this drill into each of the recent camps, and I could see the positive effect immediately in the swimmers. Not to mention...the swimmers thought this drill was really fun.

Dave's theory is that, as coaches, our job is to show the athletes how to use everything -- the water, momentum, body position -- to their advantage rather than try to force something to happen. Waterfall Flips is a great example of how to "go with the flow," so to speak, to discover extra speed.

We gave a sneak preview of Waterfall Flips last week in our Pic of the Week. In the pic, the swimmer was exaggerating the move but, hey, it initiated conversation.

The reason they're called Waterfall Flips is because of the imagery Dave uses in teaching this motion. If you've ever been lucky enough to stand UNDER a waterfall, and feel the force of the water as it pounds down on your head, neck, and back, you know that the water naturally pushes you forward, almost knocking you over. Move the flow of the water to your upper back, and you'll be pushed forward.

Why Do It:
Learning to use momentum, and creating a more direct line through your flip turns keeps you from wasting time and energy trying to SET UP and power through the turn. In other words... it's faster, and uses less energy. THAT'S why you should do it.

How To Do It:
1. Submerge yourself under water, pretty deep. What you're about to do will most likely cause your legs to float up to the surface, so you want to be deep enough to keep all of your body under.

2. Push off the wall with enough force to give you some momentum. If you push off too softly, you won't feel the the full effect of the sensation you're going for.

3. The INSTANT your toes leave the wall, tuck and send your chin down JUST a bit and allow the water to throw you around. Don't fight the water pressure, or try to help. Feel the water pushing your body down, and allow your hips to keep moving in a straight line toward the other end.

4. To incorporate this feeling into your turns, make sure you don't do the usual down-up-down-and-around approach to the wall. Rather, submerge or dive slightly before you reach the wall, and follow your final stroke down and around with your eyes. The water pressure will throw your head down, and get you into a nice tight tuck.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
There are actually a few more steps that Dave teaches, but we can't give away ALL his secrets. Rest assured that, at some point, we'll share it all with his blessing. For now, know that our subject was just learning this entire process, and is having a couple of issues that you'll notice.

First, follow your final stroke. In the video, the swimmer takes his final stroke and THEN the body dives down. This introduces a hesitation as the swimmers waits to glide into the wall. In teaching guy (yeah guy... not guys) to go under :19 for the 50 free, Dave wanted to make sure all moves were propulsive until the FINAL instant. No waiting and no hesitation. This also means the hands are used less in the flip turn. Their main responsibility is to prepare for the streamline, not to aid the flip and THEN set up the streamline. The job of the hands is to be... ready.

Go easy on our demo this week... he's a breaststroker. :) Enjoy.

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