Backstroke Turns

The backstroke turn can make or break your race, especially in short course swimming.  We have seen backstrokers swim faster than the others in the pool only to end up losing the race because their turns were lacking.  So pay attention and practice! 

There are thee types of backstroke turns; the flip-pivot, the open-bucket, and the roll-over.  If you want to be fast and you want to do a turn that slays the competition, you will do the roll-over turn.  As of this writing, you do not need to touch the wall prior to your turn.  Regardless, the roll-over, or a variation thereof, is the best, and the only one we will discuss unless the rules change.  The turn is broken down as follows.

The Approach.  A swimmer's turn does not begin on the wall.  It starts yards/meters before reaching the wall when the swimmer swims under the flags.  All backstrokers know through practice exactly how many strokes they need to take from the flags to their turn.  Once under the flags they begin their count.  When they hit their number, they begin their turn.  One key to this is to remember to practice the approach at race speed.  If you don't, you will miss you turns slightly, causing you to lose precious time.

The Turn.  You initiate the turn by moving your recovery arm (the one that just finished stroking) across the front of your face and turn your head in the same direction the arm is going (towards the water) slightly.  Your other arm will remain above you.  When your arm slides across your face and into the water, and your body flips over on its stomach, you will start to pull both arms down.  The result will be a huge acceleration into the wall, where you will flip over and initiate what is essentially a freestyle flip turn ending on your back. 

Your arms come to your sides after the monster-pull and then your palms turn towards the bottom of the pool.  You will then pull your hands towards you in a bicep curl fashion (hands stay in sculling position), which will flip your body over.  In the case of the backstroke turn, you will flip straight over and push off on your back (or on your side, if you believe in the sideways dolphin kick--do not go too far though!).   After the flip your arms should go right into a streamlined position above your head.

The Push, Glide & Dolphin Kick.  Once you have landed the flip and have your arms in position, you will begin to push off the wall as hard as you can.  Utilize the glide, and then begin your dolphin kick for as far as you can legally and/or as far as you prefer.  We recommend going as far as you can in both respects, since it is proven that you swim much faster dolphin-ing under the water than you do swimming on top of the water.  Just don't let yourself go into oxygen debt.

The dolphin kick is your greatest advantage in the backstroke.  Make sure you are super-tightly streamlined and use your entire body to generate the kick.  Start the flow of the kick from your hands and upper-body, and let it build through to your feet.  Remember to generate force in both the up-kick and the down kick.  Exhale as you go, so you will be ready to breath upon breaking the surface.  Pay attention to the view above the surface so that you do not go too far and get deeqed.  And lastly, practice!

If you nail the turn and the dolphin, you should gain at least a quarter body length on your competition.  If you nail the whole thing, you could gain much more (unless he or she is also gugly-trained!).  If you don't, keep practicing the timing and the technique!



Backstroke Turn 1.9 Kb