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How to Flip Turn


Learning to flip turn well can actually give you a better workout if you're training for a triathlon.
Learning to flip turn well can actually give you a better workout if you're training for a triathlon.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

So, you're in the water, giving it everything you've got. Your mind is on nothing else but finishing this leg of the triathlon and hopping on your bike. After all, what's a mile swim? But wait a minute -- what's going on here? Are you getting tired? You, the triathlete who can swim back and forth all day in the pool during training? How can this be?

It turns out those laps in the pool didn't give you quite the workout you thought you'd get. Swimming the length of a pool is different from swimming in open water. While swimming in a pool, if you stop at the wall and give your body a little break -- even for just a second -- those breaks add up. Even though it seems that you're swimming nonstop, you really aren't.

It's time to learn to flip turn. While this may seem like a waste of time, since you'll never use it in a triathlon, a flip turn keeps you moving through the water, eliminating those stamina-sapping rest periods at the wall. Besides, they look cool, too.

First, you'll need to be able to do a somersault in the water. Start practicing in about chest deep water, away from a wall. Bend over, put your head in the water, curl into a ball, and use the strength of your abdominal muscles to pull your body around in a circle.

Next, move toward the wall and look at the bottom of the pool for the painted black "T" in each lane. That signals swimmers that they're about 2 feet from the wall. Note how many strokes it takes you to get from the end of the "T" to the wall -- probably one, but maybe more. Practice your approach to the wall until you get accustomed to the point where you'll take that final stroke.

Now, it's time to flip. On the next page, we'll go through the maneuver step by step.


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