Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.
There are four parts to the freestyle flip turn: the approach, the tumble, the underwater and the breakout. Mistakes in all four parts are commonly made by most swimmers. Here are three of my favorite pearls for the approach to the wall that will help you improve your freestyle flip turns.
- Accelerate to the wall. As swimmers approach the wall, most will slow their stroke rates or, even worse, glide into the wall. In either case, the swimmer will lose valuable momentum and time. Try to hold your stroke rate as you near the wall, increase your kicking speed and lengthen your neck on the final long stroke before tucking your head down for the flip. Avoid the short, choppy final stroke if you can. Carry that extra momentum through the turn.
- Look no higher than the bottom of the cross. To judge the distance to the wall properly, the swimmer must look at some part of the wall. Otherwise the risk is too great of missing the wall, either too close or too far away. Most swimmers look straight into the black cross on the end of the pool before making the flip, lifting their heads substantially and slowing themselves down. If you look only at the very bottom of the black cross to gain that perspective, rather than straight forward, the head lift is considerably less. This enables the swimmer to maintain more speed and momentum going into the flip.
- Don’t breathe while starting the flip. In sprints, it is advisable to not take a breath on the last stroke or two going into the turn. In the 200 or longer events, a swimmer needs all of the oxygen he or she can get. So taking a breath on the final stroke approaching the wall is typical. However, some swimmers will take the breath and initiate the tumble at the same time, causing them to lose their perspective of where the wall is. Even if the breath is taken on the final stroke, make sure the head is back down before initiating the flip.
Yours in swimming,
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Courtesy of The Race Club, a SwimSwam partner.