Monday, December 11, 2006

Flip Turns

Because Coach Mike says so. Well thanks Coach, really. No, I mean it. I decided that today was the day I started doing flip turns. Luckily I was at the pool.

Not knowing "jack" about flip turns, other than you start facing one direction and are supposed to finish facing in the other direction, I was sort of scared at the prospect of doing flip turns. First, you have to hold your breath a bit longer. Second, from the one time I tried before, you get water up your nose. But third, and most importantly, you look like a dork every time you screw it up.

And look like a dork I did. There were a few standard categories of bad flip turns that I did in my 45 attempts today - let me share them with you.

1) "Air-ball" - this was by far the most popular of my flip turns. This is when you start too early, do the flip, push out with your legs and get nothing but water. That's gotta look pretty darn stupid from above, but I played it off pretty good by pushing off the bottom (for some reason this only happened to me in the shallow end) and continuing on my merry way.

2) "Going deep" - this is an annoying little bugger - this is when you push off at a very steep downward angle and since you are already low on air and a bit amped about trying something new, you tend to break the surface of the water, finally, with a huge and loud gulping-for-air sound. Probably not as dorky as #1, but still plenty of entertainment value. This only happens to me in the deep end, of course.

3) "Howdy Neighbor" - down here in the south we're a friendly bunch - sometimes too friendly! These flip turns find you unexpectedly in the lane to your right or left (or at least breaking the surface with the turn lane marker hitting the top of your head). Fortunately the pool had cleared out save for the therapy guy in the wide lane - so except for the life guard, who had nothing to do but watch my comedy show - I was all alone.

4) "Deep Squat" - quite the opposite from the "Air Ball", the Deep Squat takes you very close to the wall - read, any closer and you'd be sitting on the wall - and pushing off makes your rebuilt ACL creek. You'd better hope you are pointing in the right direction with this one, because you're about to be there in a hurry. Combining the "Deep Squat" with the "Going Deep" will get you oxidized real quick (or whatever Coach Mike said one of the benefits of flip turns is, duh). Luckily I never came so close to the wall that I rapped my heels on the top lip - I was really afraid of that, so that's why I probably did more Air-balls then Deep Squats.

I purposefully went to the 50-m pool today so that I wouldn't have to do 90 flip turns in my first time out. By the, oh, 43rd turn I think I was getting the hang of it. My advise for anyone new to flip turns and completely uncoached, unsupervised and uncoordinated - just know that the first 40 times you try to flip turn, you'll wind up with one of the 4, and quite possibly make up a few of your own (oh yes, there are variations of the above, like the "This little Piggie" turn, where you barely get one toe to touch the wall and get about a milli-watt of push off)...the key is to be pretty confident that you won't drown (I'm not guaranteeing that, mind you) and eventually you'll get the hang of it.


Iron Pol said...

I'm sticking with my open turns and skipped breaths for hypoxic training.

I'll work on flip turns after I get the 5K swim down pat.

JC said...

Hahaha. Awesome post. I need to learn flip turns in about 2 weeks (because Coach Mike told me so), so your primer is most appreciated. Now I look forward to it for comedic value alone. ;)

Marc said...

Thanks - I guess I should have noted that swimming easy (since I was concentrating on flips) I still managed a 2:06 average for 2,500 - about 5 seconds off my best from the week prior with less PE - so even bad flip turns makes you faster....

Mary Sunshine said...

Watch out for my personal flipturn defect favorite..."Head bash" on the pool bottom. Keep trying, though! When else in your day do you get the chance to turn upside down???