FINIS Tip Of The Week: Faster Open Turns

Welcome to the “FINIS Tip of the Week.” Swimming World will be bringing you a topic that we’ll explore with drills and concepts for you to implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), each tip is meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

The tip for this week centers around open turns, and below you will find some tips and drills you can try with your team to work on getting faster turns!

Try It From Mid-Pool

You want to create as little resistance as possible when performing a turn by keeping as small a profile as possible as you swing redirect your momentum off of the wall. The smaller your profile, the less water you are forced to push through to turn back from where you came.

One great way to work on this is to practice mid-pool open turns from a dead stop. To do this have swimmers try to perform a backwards somersault, starting from their stomachs and them driving their momentum backwards while tucking their knees and keeping their head down. This reminds them to engage their whole body (especially their core) when practicing turns, and also is a great way to work on bringing the legs up quickly and learn how to minimize your overall resistance through the turn.

Speed Up!

One of the most common mistakes coaches can see when swimmers are performing open turns is that athletes will slow down heading into the wall. Whenever you are practicing turns, stress that you should always be focusing on accelerating during your last few strokes into the wall, not slowing down. Going fast into the wall will help swimmers speed up every part of the their turn, making it easier to get in and out of the wall fast. Happy swimming!

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

2 Comments

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Paul Windrath

    This is a good way to practice open turns.

    A very subtle point is missing…

    The key is to begin the turning sequence by drawing the knees towards the chest – a really important point that few focus on. This begins the rotation in the tightest possible position.

    Doing an open turn is the exact same motion that divers use to begin reverse and back somersaults. They DO NOT start by throwing their head back. The good divers begin by drawing their knees to their chest. Once this momentum has begun, the rotation is a piece of cake.

Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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