By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Monday, April 30, 2018
Every Monday, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been swimming for about a year or so and I've gotten stronger. But I still stink at flip turns! I can never do them and water always gets in my nose when I blow out! Any tips on flip turns?
-Bad at Flips
Hey Bad at Flips,
When becoming a competitive swimmer, flip turns are the final frontier. Often, the flip turn is the most difficult thing to learn, yet your flipping-ability is important. When I lap swim and see other swimmers, in one second, I know who competed on a team, and who didn’t. How? By their flip turn (or lack thereof). Flip turns separate the recreational lap swimmers from the competitive swimmers. So, commit to working on them.
Your coaches should help. Tell them, “Coach, water keeps getting up my nose. How can I stop this?” Be transparent and admit you’re having trouble. That’s why your coaches are there. To coach, and to help you. It’s okay — everyone gets water up their noses. I did. So did all my teammates. Tell your coach you’d like more help.
You can also try these exercises, which helped me perfect my own flip turn:
1.) Jump flips.
Growing up, the wall was my biggest problem. I couldn’t consistently nail my feet on the wall and push off into a streamline. Every time, like you, water rushed up my nose.
Try this: Practice flipping upright, standing up. Find a deep part of the pool. Squat down under the water, jump as high as you can, and spin. Get comfortable with the flip sensation. Jump, spin, land. Jump, spin, land. Add the streamline. Jump, spin, land, streamline. Practice this over and over. (Not so much it makes you dizzy.)
2.) Scull into the wall.
Here’s another exercise: Scull under the flags towards the wall. Slowly spin your feet over so they hit the wall. Finish by ending on your back, in a streamline position. Don’t push off. Just sit there, on the wall, blowing air out your nose. Pretend your feet are like glue and stuck to the wall. Then head back to the flags and practice that flip-over all over again. Practice that motion over and over. Water may get up your nose, so blow air out through your nose. Or try humming — humming works.
3.) Add the push-off.
Scull into the wall. Flip. Push. Streamline. Do this slowly — you may feel like you’re stuck in molasses. Don’t expect to fly off the wall at a perfect angle. Practice your approach, spin, streamline, push. Zoom underwater as far as you can go.
4.) Get comfortable facing upside-down.
An overview: As a younger swimmer, water rushed up my nose all the time. It was a terrible feeling. But with practice, flip-turns get easier. With time, you can feel comfortable navigating underwater. Keep practicing and you’ll become more comfortable. It took me months of flip-turns before I felt comfortable. Blow water out your nose, hum (if that helps), go slowly, and break it into steps. Practice each step, then put them together.
I hope this helps.