4/1/06 - 5/1/06

Be a Safer Swimmer - 360swim SaferSwimmer

Apr 8, 2006

Flip turn schooling - Advanced (Competitive Freestyle Flip Turn)

Here are a few special tips and tricks if you are already a flip turn professional :) and you have mastered both phase 1 and phase 2 of the flip turn school.

Let's focus on the glide into the turn first:

When you start your glide, you should be slowly submerging yourself underwater, so you do not start your flip turn with your head and back out of the water. This drill is called The Submarine. So, to practice this, swim freestyle to the wall as normal and a 1 meter or so before you are ready to flip start slowly submerging at a very wide angle, so your head and back are getting under the surface. Once you get right below the surface with your upper body, and then initiate your flip. If this drill is mastered perfectly, you will feel how your legs flip totally on their own at higher speed than normal.

Second tip would be the positioning of the feet on the wall:
Many swimmers think that they have to flip their feet as fast as possible in order for the turn to be fast. That is a big NO NO. The motion of the feet is smooth and there shall be no splash on the pool deck from your turn. So, it is very important that you keep your legs bent (not straight) and when your feet are reaching the wall, they are basically in right angle to your shins. So basically, your heels create a beautiful hole in the water for the rest of your feet to follow and no splash is created. I don't have a real practice trick for this, except maybe trying the flip on the wall, where there is a dry spot on the deck and try not to get the pool deck wet :)

Last tip would be the breakout:
When you push off the wall and are rotated back to your stomach, your streamline should be perfect as this is the time when you go the fastest in the pool. You still carry the momentum from the wall, so by minimizing drag, you will increase the distance you will travel at this pace. Important thing to remember is that if you are too deep or too shallow, you do not go the fastest as there is some turbulence from the bottom or from the top of the water. Every swimmer needs to find the best depth for their breakouts (I'd suggest starting at about 80 cm). Ok, now the trick comes into play once you start feeling yourself slowing down a little. Only thing you need to do is to add a little dolphin kick (or more) right before you surface. In reality, you should start your dolphin kick right after you push off the wall, but this is a bit tougher exercise. This will give you the final burst of energy and will make your breakout a success. The breakout itself is for another post, however, keep in mind - head is down, no breath on the first pull and no jumping out of the water - keep it right at the surface.
Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

Flip turn schooling - Part Deux (Freestyle Turn at the Wall)

Alright, let's bring the flip toward the wall. Now that you know how to do a flip from a glide, you can easily do a similar feat by the wall. Step back about 2-3 meters from the wall. Push off the bottom into a glide, however, this time have one arm by your side and one arm in front of you (this will simulate a freestyle stroke). Once you are close enough to the wall (this is varies on a height of the person and the ability to tuck into a ball) perform the same drill as mentioned in the previous post.

To recap this, once you are gliding with one arm up and one down, start your stroke with the arm that is above your head, when this arm is moving toward your side, tuck your chin to your chest and use your stomach muscles to smoothly roll into a ball. Once your head is nicely underwater (basically you are heads down now), start rolling your knees to your chest and finish the smooth turn. When you feel your feet hit the wall, just give it a strong push. However, don't forget about the arms.

The arm movement starts at about the time when your legs are beginning to move from straight position (at the surface) into being tucked to your chest. (The picture is a courtesy of Swim.ee where you can find many more great tips on swimming). Both of your arms should be at your side at that time, so we just need to get them into a perfect streamline. Slowly move them from your side to behind your ears and stretch. Now, when you feet hit the wall, you can push off and you will glide off the wall on your back and come up to the surface. Practice this a few times, before you move on.

The only thing left now is the twist to your front. Immediately after the push off the wall (still under water), you should start twisting on your stomach, so you come up in the same freestyle position as you started out in. To help you, you can imagine pushing off the wall in a corkscrew fashion. Use your feet to start your twist, however, don't be too eager to twist; it is a nice smooth slow motion (there is plenty of time to do it, before you surface and start swimming).

Once you have handled the wall flip, feel free to get into more exercises that will help you improve your flipturns.
Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start

Flip turn schooling - Part 1 (How to start a freestyle flip turn)

After a longer pause, here is another tip that you might find helpful. Most beginner swimmers find it quite challenging to perform a flip turn at each side of the pool. Your troubles are over, read on and then go to the pool and practice, practice, practice (as someone wise once said: practice makes perfect and with no pain, there is no gain - this is especially true of swimming)

When you get into the water, let's try flipping without the wall first. This way you can concentrate on perfecting the flip. We will add the wall later. So, what makes a good flip?

a.) chin tucked on your chest
b.) smooth motion
c.) knees brought to your chest
d.) breath holding

To start, you can imagine doing a somersault in the water. Give it a slow push off the bottom, tuck that chin to your chest, and slowly roll forward with your knees pressed to your chest. To help you with that, you can use two kickboards. Place them next to you (one on each side), place the palms of your hands on top of them and use them as levers when you are flipping. When starting the flip you can be ducked in the water, so only your head is showing and the push of the bottom should not be too strong, as Happy Gilmore said: "Just tap it in" :). When the flip is finished, you should end up in the same position you started (standing on the bottom).

Now that you can do it with a push off the bottom, let's try it starting from a freestyle floating position. So, you are floating forward on your stomach, eyes are on the bottom, arms are in front of you. Slowly move both arms toward your hips (like you are doing butterfly) at the same time roll your chin to your chest and then start adding the knees toward the chest as well. Once you manage to smoothly flip, you will end up floating on your back, just in the opposite way from what you started :).

You probably ask yourself, what do I do with my arms? Well, this is the tricky part. Your arms help you flip over, but then we need to get them above our head again, so when you are flipping in the tightly formed ball (chin and knees on chest) and you are almost on the position on your back, you slowly unroll the ball and move your arms and feet apart into a streamlined position.

In the next lesson we will add the wall and a few tricks to make your flip an efficient work of art. Have fun.
Safer Swimmer - the must have swim safety device for all open water swimmers