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The Open Turn

The open turn is used for the breast and the butterfly. There is another flip turn for these strokes. I have only been witness to this turn at higher level meets.  This turn takes a lot of practice and excellent judgement especially as the swimmer goes into the third turn of the 100 or continues racing the 200. The key to the other flip turn is that a swimmer must touch with two hands first before the flip. The timing must be perfect upon judging the wall and the swimmers need a tight tuck and have good lungs. Swimmers do this by touching with the back of the hands shoulder-width apart and slightly deeper in the water. Then initiating a tuck, twisting and pushing off the wall with the breast facing down.

Judging the wall is essential. Swimmers must look for the wall with every breath. Your brain constantly perceives distances to an approaching object or walking would be very difficult. Help yourself out and look for the wall. Speaking of breaths, a swimmer must exhale upon touching the wall so as to take advantage of the time that the head is out of the water at the wall. Inhaling should be the only part of the breath when the head is out of the water (every breath should be the same. It is amazing how many advanced swimmers don’t inhale and exhale correctly). If a swimmer exhales and inhales while hanging on the wall the turn will be slower. A swimmer must touch the wall with a full extension of the body in a streamlined position. Swimmers have a tendency to dive for the wall and reach down thus increasing the distance to the wall. Maintain body position! Once the touch has been completed the time it takes you to touch your feet to the wall after the hand touch will determine the speed of the turn. Remember two-hand touch and proper breathing on the wall. When touching the wall the legs must be brought up to the wall with proper placement of the feet. The feet must be placed on the wall so that the push off the wall is parallel to the surface of the water but deep enough to do the pullout or fly kick needed. The legs must be brought up so the knees are pointed to the ceiling or sky (upward). The turn must be completed with the concept in mind that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. Bring the legs up in a tight tuck to the chest using the core of the body including the hips and abdominals. Swimmers need to remember that pushing off the wall with their hands will not create a fast turn. The shoulders must stay at water level and the head must continue to look forward at the wall, until both hands have left the wall and the swimmer has submerged to begin the push off with the legs. The time it takes the swimmer to touch the wall with the legs after the hand touch and the timing of the breath are major factors in speed of the turn. The swimmer must point one arm to the other end of the pool after the touch immediately, during the tuck part of the turn. Once the feet have touched the other arm will leave the wall passing by the head submerging the swimmer for the push off of the wall. The head turns once the second arm passes by. Achieve a tight spike immediately and maintain good body position. You are now ready to begin the underwater pull or fly kick. There are four other open turns and three are transitions involved in the IM, with the fourth hardly used anymore call the “Nabor” turn. This was developed by John Nabor an Olympian backstroker from the 1970’s when you had to touch each wall in the backstroke before turning. This turn will not be described. Please look it up or ask an older swimmer.

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Fly to back is as described above with the exception of pushing off with the breast of the swimmer facing up instead of facing down.

Back to breast is initiated as if you are going to do a backstroke finish. When your hand touches the wall you will use your abs and bring your knees to your chest. If you touched the wall with your right hand then you’ll spin your feet towards the right and your left hand will point to the opposite wall initiating the spike. The tighter your tuck the faster you’ll spin. Keep your shoulders at water level.

Breast to free is the same as the open turn described above.

Please feel free to comment or post your ideas for turns!

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