A Great Pearl for Faster Freestyle Flip Turns

by SwimSwam Partner Content 3

August 15th, 2019 News, Training

Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.

At The Race Club we pride ourselves in teaching all of our members to have fast turns in all strokes. They are just too important to not do well.

There are two very different ways to view turns. One way is to consider them a nuisance, requiring that the swimmer needs to turn around and get going in the opposite direction. Some might even consider the turns as a rest stop; a chance to take a breather before starting another length of hard swimming.

I can assure you that if you consider turns as either a nuisance or a rest station, you will most certainly lose ground. Likely, you will lose many races because of your lethargic turns using poor technique. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a swimmer work so hard to catch another swimmer, only to lose a half body length after the turn.

At The Race Club, we prefer to consider turns as an opportunity and a workstation, rather than as a rest station. Like with all parts of your swim, you need to be fit in order to do turns well. To get into good ‘turn shape’, you need to finesse your turns in practice. Doing turns well requires more energy and turn fitness, not less. All of that fitness and technique starts in practice.

With the freestyle flip turn, we break the turn down into four important parts; the approach, the flip, the underwater and the breakout. Mistakes are commonly made during all four parts of the turn.

Earlier this year, we released a webisode for our Lane 2-4 subscribers on how to approach the wall correctly for the freestyle flip turn. This week, we released a webisode on performing the proper flip. In this webisode on the flip, we teach one of the most important techniques to help you improve your turns. I consider the technique of what to do with your arms during the flip turn, something I learned from watching Olympian Cesar Cielo, a real pearl.

Nearly all swimmers use their arms to help leverage themselves as they pull their legs and feet over the water toward the wall. In so doing, the swimmer will bend the elbow and pull back against the water to help with this maneuver. The problem is that once the feet hit the wall and the arms are still bent, the swimmer has two options. Either he can wait until the arms are straight to push off to get more speed off the wall. Or he can push off the wall immediately and straighten the arms into the streamline as he leaves the wall. With either option, the swimmer will lose valuable time.

Instead, we teach swimmers to keep their arms straight or nearly straight overhead, so that by the time the feet hit the wall, the swimmer is in a good position for a fast push off the wall. We use a stepwise method to teach this important turning technique that is well described in this week’s webisode (available in Lanes 2-4).

We hope that you will enjoy our webisode  series on the freestyle flip turns and learn some valuable techniques, such as the positioning of  your arms, avoiding a common mistake made by so many swimmers.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

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“Turn Fitness” is an EXCELLENT phrase


What a master artist of turnology!


I like my swimmers to have a bit of a bend elbows as ther feet hit the wall, when they start streaching into streamline position, they try to elongate themselves as much as they can, something like a spring mechanism. The main thing, as Garry said is not to waist time or rest at the turn.

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