Racing Turns

What is important for great turns in all four competitive swimming strokes? Two principles immediately stand out as critical for the success of fast turns.

  1. Always swim into the walls strong, or fast. Build your momentum going into the wall, and you will have the greatest potential of coming off that wall fast and with a strong push-off. The harder you throw a tennis ball at a concrete wall, the harder it will rebound off that wall.
  2. Streamline in the full torpedo position off every wall, under the water and the surface tension. Learning to streamline better and more efficiently off every wall has the potential to significantly improve your swimming times.

Both of these principles must be practiced daily in every training session, and emphasised in every swimming set. Win every wall in practice and you will begin to do the same in competition.

Freestyle & Backstroke Turns

These two turns are essentially the same. Backstroke swimmers rotating from the back to front going into the wall, and breaking out in the Backstroke position being the difference. The turning essentials are the same.

Technique Tips

  1. In Backstroke, know how many strokes it takes you to get from the flags to the wall.
  2. In Freestyle, don’t breathe while you are inside the flags.
  3. Maintain nose to knees, chin to chest, and heels to hips.
  4. Push off the wall on the balls of the feet.
  5. Kick the wall as you make contact.
  6. Kick off the wall with very fast dolphin kicks in Backstroke. Use dolphin or flutter kicking off the wall in Freestyle, according to the swimmer’s ability preference.
  7. The feet should be apart at shoulder width on wall contact and push off. This is a horizontal squat position.
  8. The last stroking arm is swept downward under the body.
  9. The head dives down and forward, tucking the chin and using a dolphin kick. The legs must be apart to the wall.
  10. Strive for a 90° flexion knee to hip.
  11. Pull out with the bottom arm in Freestyle.
  12. In Freestyle, don’t breathe on your first stroke.

Breaststroke & Butterfly Turns

The turn is the same for these two strokes. The main difference is in the underwater pullout in Breaststroke.

Technique Tips

  1. In Butterfly, don’t breathe while you are inside the flags.
  2. Learn to judge the walls. Know where the wall is in relation to your stroke for turning so you can touch on a full stroke.
  3. Touch the wall with both hands, just short of full extension. The elbows are flexed, then straightened.
  4. The lead hand releases the wall on contact and the knees drive towards the wall. Drive the knees towards the chest as quickly as possible. This will get the feet on and off the wall quickly.
  5. One foot should be on top of the other to get to the wall quicker.
  6. The head snaps directly back.
  7. The first hand off the wall sculls up towards the ceiling.
  8. The second hand off the wall drives to the forehead, close to the ear.
  9. Go into the turn and come off the turn through the same hole. A vertical eye position when the head snaps back will help get the swimmer in and out through the same hole.
  10. Hyperextend off the wall and break out into the stroke.
  11. Practice your underwater Breaststroke pullout, complete with the single downward dolphin kick, every time you do a Breaststroke turn.
  12. Use a strong first stroke to break out with momentum, and then get into your racing stroke rhythm.
  13. In Butterfly, don’t breathe on your first stroke.

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