Performing flipturns in the butterfly and breastroke events is not illegal, so long as both hands still touch the wall like a normal open turn, though the ability to execute flipturns in this manner is difficult and rather uncommon at high-level competitions. Despite the unorthodox approach, some swimmers, such as Kenyon College’s David Fitch, are still able to do turns this way with high efficiency. For Fitch, this not only resulted in two personal bests in one day, but also a DIII National Title in the 100 butterfly, and a new NCAA DIII Record time of 46.92.
Fitch performed flipturns at all three turns with seemingly effortless speed, and blasted impressive underwaters off each wall, popping up at roughly 12.5 yards after each one. Fitch’s record performance shaved .04 off the previous Division III Record set by Washington University’s Reed Dalton in 2015, and also came as a huge personal best. In Greensboro, Fitch shaved 0.51 from his prelims time of 47.43, where he also did flipturns, resulting in a total time drop of 0.84 as his best time prior to NCAAs stood at 47.74 from Kenyon’s mid-season invite in December.
Fitch did not swim the butterfly leg of Kenyon’s medley relay, but rather led off, splitting a 47.19 on the backstroke. In the finals of the 100 backstroke, Fitch once again was champion, touching the wall in 46.66, just missing the National Record by .04. At the end of the meet, Fitch was named CSCAA Men’s Swimmer of the Year.
Last year, we reported on Ohio State’s Joe Gardner using flipturns in the 100 breaststroke at the 2018 B1G Championships. Though Gardner did flipturns on all three walls in his prelims swim at B1Gs, he opted for a slightly different strategy in finals and only did one flipturn.
A video interview with Fitch following his National Title and Record in the 100 butterfly, as well as a race video, are provided below.