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Freestyle Flip Turns for Swimmers

The Basics of the Swimming Flip Turn


Updated June 13, 2014

Flip turns. Heading into the wall, somersaulting, and pushing off that wall - basic flip turns. Wow! Looks neat. But is it necessary?

No, not really. It depends upon your goals - why you swim and what you want to do in the water. It's a quick way to turn around, but all swimmers can turn around without doing flip turns, and some do it faster than when they try flip turns. At first, it may be very slow for you, too. As you get better at the technique, you may find it easier to do a flip turn than turn some other way. The only way to find out is to try it!

Why is it called a flip turn if you are doing a somersault? I want you to think of it as rolling up in a ball, not something as acrobatic as a flip. Sounds easy - and it is for some swimmers; others get lost as they tumble around, losing sight of where they are going, and end up almost everywhere but heading back in the right direction. With a little practice, and by taking things step by step, everyone that can do a somersault can do a flip turn.

The first thing to remember is turns are "blind". Don't try to look where you are going after you begin the turn, and don't look when you push off the wall and head back the other way. You have to trust other swimmers in your lane. Have faith in their ability to follow some the swimming rules of etiquette when sharing a lane:

  • Stay on your side of the lane if you are splitting a lane.
  • Don't swim on top of someone else's feet if you are behind someone - either back off or pass them on the straightaway.
  • Swim in a circle (each side of the swimming lane goes in the opposite direction) when there are more than two sharing a lane.
  • If you are not sure, you may want to talk with the others in your lane to get the rules straight.

You can learn the turn without a wall. Taking away one of the confusing parts until you learn how to comfortably somersault. The rolling over part is really a half-somersault. You start on your stomach, then end up on your back. You will roll over to your again stomach later, after you push off of the wall. Step by step ideas are on page two.

More on Swimming Turns:

Swim On!

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