How to Flip Turn

Flip Turns in Triathlons

Improving your breathing will help you in the pool and out in the open water.
Improving your breathing will help you in the pool and out in the open water.

For many triathletes, swim training is the most neglected part of the fitness scheme. Swimming takes more effort than the running and cycling portion of a triathlon. After all, you can run and bike almost anywhere quite easily, but you have to travel to a pool or lake to practice your swimming. Also, many triathletes just don't like swimming. Perhaps some people just feel like the leg in the water is simply something to hurry through.

Since swimming is the forgotten third of the triathlon, it makes sense that any extra help you can give yourself in the water will give you a major advantage over your competitors. That goes for learning to flip turn. In addition to building your endurance as we discussed earlier, learning to properly execute a flip turn will strengthen your abs -- always a good thing -- and improve your form in the water, helping you slice a blazing trail ahead of your competitors. While you don't want to spend your whole swim workout on the flip turn, commit to doing a few each practice session. It will soon become second nature.

There are a few things you can do to improve your flip turn form:

  • Water up the nose may be a problem. Blow out while you're flipping if you're not good at holding your breath.
  • Before you push off the wall, bring your hands and arms to a perfect streamline position. Channel your inner Michael Phelps to torpedo through the water.
  • As you get ready to kick, keep your feet and legs together.
  • Don't start kicking until your speed drops right after your push from the wall. If you're gliding faster than you swim, go with the flow.
  • Don't breathe on your first stroke after you emerge from the flip turn.

For lots more information on swim techniques, see the links below.


Related Articles


  • Gmunder, Felix K. "Swimming Technique: How to Do a Flipturn in Crawl Swimming." Limmat Sharks Zurich. (July 21, 2010)
  • Koskella, Kevin. "Incorporating the Flip Turn Into Your Swim Workout." Competitor Triathlon. Sept. 8, 2009. (July 21, 2010)
  • Kostich, Alex. "Learn to Master the Flip Turn." (July 21, 2010)
  • Trifuel. "The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn." (July 21, 2010)