Flip Turn


While the turns from backstroke and freestyle are essentially the same, the rules are different for the other two strokes, both of which have what are called "open turns," which require two-hand touches.

Flip Turns

For backstroke, there are flags above the pool at both ends. Practice a few times to see how many strokes it takes you to get from the flags to the wall. Then one to three strokes. Remember this count. When you see the flags, take this many strokes before turning unto your stomach and doing a somersault. Plant your feet on the wall with your toes pointing toward the sky. Push off, kicking and holding a streamline with your arms until you break the surface. For a free turn, the flip is the same, but you come in without having to roll over, and you rotate your body as you push off the wall so that you break the surface of the water facing down.

Butterfly Turn from Andrea Morgan on Vimeo

This video shows an open turn for the butterfly. The turn for the breaststroke is essentially the same, except the swimmer would approach and leave the wall doing breaststroke.

Open Turns

For the butterfly and breaststroke, as you near the wall, determine whether you'd rather extend your last stroke a bit longer than usual or take an extra short, quick stroke into the turn. It's generally better to extend the last stroke, but you have to get a feel for it with a bit of practice. Either way, you come into the wall with both arms extended in front of you, and you MUST touch the wall with both hands (or be disqualified). Once your hands grip the wall, quickly and lightly pull yourself up and toward the wall. Before your forward motion stops, plant your feet on the wall and remove your hands. Extend your arms outward into a streamline position, and push off with your legs, rotating so that you remain face-down. Push under the water's surface, and continue to kick and hold the streamline position until you break the surface again. (Rules prohibit traveling more than 2/3 of the length of the pool under water.