Response to: “I’m a triathlete. I don’t need to learn flip turns.”

As we insert learning flip turns into practice, we, the coaches, are starting to hear from our triathletes: “I don’t need to learn flip turns. I’m a triathlete. There are no walls in open water.” Many of these same triathletes take pride in the fact that they don’t push off from the wall, thereby working harder by swimming more between walls.

Yes, Virginia, it is true that there are no walls in open water every 25 yards or 50 meters that you can push off from (if you are lucky to swim in long course). However, it’s equally true that you don’t stop, go vertical, grab a huge breath, and restart from zero every 25 yards or 50 meters in open water.

A flip turn with a good, streamlined pushoff helps you preserve your momentum, making your swimming more continuous like it would be in open water. Furthermore, starting each length from a good, streamlined body position sets you up better to return to swimming in a balance, streamlined, long body position. Finally, flipping your turns adds an element of breath control to your swimming, challenging you to manage your air flow to get in and out of the wall without running out of air. (Note: For the newbies, it will take a few weeks for your body to adapt to the change in air flow, but it will assuredly get there). The end result of your flip turn and streamline pushoff practice will be an increase in overall pool speed which can help you move up a lane or go to a faster interval — something we all want.

We’ll be working on flip turns and streamlined pushoffs on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings at the UIC Technique practice. We’ll sprinkle in some work in the mornings at Moody as well, mostly on Fridays. Head to our website to see our Masters practice schedule and our pool locations.

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