Run More Awesome / Training / Triathlon

Mastering the Art of Flip Turns

I started swimming again in the fall when my left heel flared up with Achilles’ tendonitis. Pool running was really what I was after, but I swam laps, too, and surprise, surprise, I found myself enjoying swimming.

The last time I swam was in a sprint triathlon in 2008 that was awful, just awful. I hadn’t been in the pool since.

Fast forward to January, and I am “training” for an indoor triathlon in February. But I’m not really training; November, December, and January are, according to my training periodization calendar, post-racing season, and my objective is to keep working out without injuring myself and to prepare for the “off season,” when I’ll be building a base of long runs.

I’m swimming laps one or two days a week, and before the New Year I got this grand idea in my head that I should learn how to do flip turns. So what else would I do but Google how to do them? I watched several videos on YouTube, and gave it a go last week. 

Oh, man. Not pretty.

Thankfully, a very nice lifeguard stopped me and asked if I was practicing flip turns. And yes, they were so bad that she couldn’t recognize them. She offered to teach me, and in about twenty minutes, I had a good enough feel for the flip turn that she let me loose. (It was a slow pool day at the Downtown Y. Heck, it’s always a slow pool day when I’m down there.)

Today, I made myself practice flip turns while swimming my laps. (So far, I’m up to a 100 yard warm up + 100 yard drills; 7 x 100 workout; and 100 yard cool down.) And flip turns are getting easier. The deep end is easier than the shallow end. And I have to carefully time my last breath of each pool length, so I’m not inhaling water when I turn over. Maybe, if I were being generous, I’ve successfully completed two dozen flip turns, so I’m not perfect yet, but they’re becoming more natural. And it’s fun to learn something new.