Swimming Tip: Practice Your Flips


Congratulations on registering for your first open water swim!

Now that you’ve taken that first big step, grab your goggles and swim cap and get to the pool!

The countdown to race day begins now.

Need to start training? Here’s what you should be thinking about.

Log some pool time.pool-flip-580x400

Before you hit the open water, spend some time building your base in the pool. With some specific training and planning, you will feel confident and prepared.

Learn how to do a flip turn.

I know this may seem silly since there are no walls in open water, but doing flip turns in the pool helps you keep a sustained steady rhythm and pace much like will be required in the open water. When you stop to pause to turn at the wall, you lose the streamlined momentum that you built while swimming. It takes more energy to get restarted for the next lap.

Remember learning about inertia in physics class? An object in motion stays in motion while an object stopped (you touching the wall, pausing and bringing your feet up to kick off) requires a great deal more energy to get started again.

Think about doing this 32 times to complete one mile in the pool. Imagine how much your efficiency improves with doing flip turns. And one of the training strategies for participating in endurance events is maximizing efficiency and technique.

Another reason for doing flip turns in practice is that it promotes breath control by forcing you to experience time underwater without an immediate breath.  I had never thought about how important it is to practice this skill for the open water until I read Jay Peluso’s coaching tips.

Peluso also talks about the importance of developing spatial awareness underwater.  This is critical if someone swims into you or if the water is choppy and you suddenly lose sight of safety kayaks or target buoys or the shore line.

So, how do you learn to do a flip turn?  Ask a friend, talk to the lifeguard, work with a coach or swim instructor.

Here’s to friendship, integrity, community service and doing great things in the world.

This is apart of a 6 article series written by Karen Kovacs, PT, OCS, USAT Level 1 Coach.  For more, check out The Health Journal

Karen Kovacs, PT, OCS is a physical therapist and clinical director of Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Gloucester Point location. She is an accomplished endurance athlete and is a USAT Level 1 Coach.