How To Do Back to Breast Turns (Open vs. Bucket vs. Cross-Over)

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Nov 8, 2013

How To Do Back to Breast Turns (Open vs. Bucket vs. Cross-Over)

In the individual medley races, there are a lot of transitions between strokes: fly to back, back to breast, breast to free where each swimmer could either gain or lose time on the opponents. Usually the most complex turn is the one from backstroke to breaststroke and in the history of swimming this turn has evolved into a very fast and sophisticated movement sequence which is quite tricky to master for a lot of us and even very good swimmers take a bit of coordination and time to learn it. Here is a run down of the turn evolution from the time it was required to touch the wall on swimmer's back to execute the turn.

Back to Breast Open turn or Touch turn

The open turn is basically very similar to a one hand touch freestyle open turn with the only difference that one glides to the wall on back. The most important part here is to reach for the wall on a side still slightly leaning on the back and then very quickly bring your legs to your chest. In other words basically you are pivoting on your butt to make this rotation turn. This turn is the easiest to master and when done well can be very effective.


Backwards flip turn or Bucket turn or Rolling turn or Suicide turn

The bucket turn requires a bit more skill, but it basically is just a backward flip with the touch on the wall. The main point to talk about here is that the start of the turn has to be with the palm touch way below the surface of the water. So actually the swimmer has already initiated the turn before the hand touches the wall. After that again tucking your knees is the common element. One problem with this turn is that it requires quite a good lung capacity to execute the breaststroke pull out afterwards, so unless you can hold your breath long enough to not cut the breaststroke pull out short, I would not recommend it. Hence the name "Suicide Turn" I presume :).


Cross-over Turn

This is the newest of the turns. If executed well, it is much faster, so in shorter individual medley distances such as 100 or 200 it would make more sense to learn it. However, if you look at it quickly, you will probably feel confused as to what hand touches the wall and on what side to flip your body to:). No worries, the below video is very good at describing how it is done. I couldn't have explained it better. In short though, after you touch the wall with your upper arm over your body (keep on your back slightly), you will need to drive your butt in the direction below the hand that touches the wall to complete the turn. So in a way it could be performed on a side or as a regular tumble turn depending how coordinated the swimmer is.


Confused? No problem, the pool is yours and with time you will get it :). Maybe the below video will help. It has more detailed explanation with some dryland practice for the open turn and the cross-over turn:


Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

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