Contributor Rick Paine is an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC). AAC is a SwimSwam Partner.
Have you ever heard this or perhaps you even made statements like these yourself?
- We never work on turns.
- My coach doesn’t believe in practicing turns.
- We only work on turns at meets.
Remember when you first started swimming and one of the most difficult things in the world was flip turns? How much water went up your nose before you learned how to exhale upside down? How many heel bruises did you get from turning too close to the wall? How many times did you hit your head on backstroke before you learned how to count your strokes?
Now that you are a seasoned veteran how many turns do you do in a typical practice? Figure 4 turns per 100 for a 6,000 yard workout and you have 240 turns every practice. Figure 8 practices per week and you have over 1900 turns per week. Would you agree that anything you do 1900 times in a week becomes a habit? Would you also agree that it is up to you determine if it is a bad habit or a good habit?
What exactly is “turn shape”? It’s the conditioning a swimmer needs to execute a fast turn. “Turning shape” is very different than “swimming shape” because the movements and skills involved are very different than those found in swimming. The muscles used for swimming are totally different than the muscles used for turning. Lung capacity is another aspect of turn shape. If your lungs are conditioned to you breaking out at the backstroke flags in practice why would you think they are in shape enough to allow you to breakout at the 15 meter mark in a race?
If your goal for a 200 free is 1:59 you know that you need to hold around :29 high to :30 low on your last three 50’s. You would not expect to hold :30 low in a race unless you were able to hold them in practice right? Why? Because the muscle fibers you use holding :31 or :32’s in practice are different than the muscle fibers you use holding :30 low in a race. Even though you are using the same muscles in both, you are using them at different intensity levels.
- Do you breathe off the wall in practice and expect to not breathe off the wall at a meet?
- Do you do onehanded fly turns in practice and expect perfect turns at a meet?
- Do you rush your pull downs in practice and expect them to be there in a race?
- Do you expect your breakouts to be there in a meet if you don’t work them in practice?
- Do you really think you can have sloppy streamlining in practice and expect something different to happen in a meet?
Have you ever run out of air off the walls and had to breakout early? Are you soft on your turns just so you can get an extra breath?
Do you realize that you don’t need to empty both lungs on every flip turn just to keep water out of your nose?
When you execute a flip turn your nose is only upside down for a split second so you only need to exhale with enough pressure to keep the water from coming in. Start playing with how little air you actually need to exhale in order to keep water out of your nose.
Drill: In the middle of the pool do a series of somersaults and practice exhaling through your nose just enough to keep water out. Try three in a row without stopping and see how much air you still have left in your lungs when done.
In workouts be aware of how much air you can keep in your lungs on your turns.
USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) and turns:
There are a lot of swimmers utilizing USRPT which basically consists of short race pace swimming. If this works so well to get the swimming muscles in shape then why don’t we use it to get the turning muscles in shape?
A lot of workouts incorporate repeats of 25 yards. Obviously swimming 25’s as repeats doesn’t allow for much turn work. A suggestion is to do a fast turn at the end of each repeat. It may be difficult in a crowded pool to actually push off the wall after a turn, but you can at least initiate the first part of the turn at race pace. It would be great if your coach timed 25’s to the foot touch for all strokes.
Better yet, do your 25’s starting in the middle of the pool and do two 12 ½’s with a turn at race pace.
Turn on your turns!
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