View Full Version : Exhale Tumble turn - Backstroke

February 1st, 2007, 05:11 AM
Hi coaches and swimmers,

I have a question that might seem a little silly.

I don't seem to get the breathing in the tumble turn correct. As I see most swimmers barely exhale at all when performing a tumble turn and while gliding to a normal backstroke. I on the other hand "over-exhale" and barely have enough oxygen left to have a normal gliding phase. I also exhale way to much gliding underwater on my back.

I asked my coach and he said this takes a lot of practise, but obviously that doesn't get my anywhere.

How do I decrease the amount of exhaling when tumbling and returning to a normal backstroke? Are there any drills for this or special techniques (like "blocking" the nose)? Or is it a mental thing?


Rob Copeland
February 1st, 2007, 10:30 AM
How do I decrease the amount of exhaling when tumbling and returning to a normal backstroke?1) make sure you are tucking your head on the turn,
2) pucker up your upper lip to partially block your nose
3) wear nose plugs

March 7th, 2007, 09:53 AM
How do I decrease the amount of exhaling when tumbling and returning to a normal backstroke? Are there any drills for this or special techniques (like "blocking" the nose)? Or is it a mental thing?

sorry for the late reply. flipturns are largely a mental feat. swimmers often frame them in their minds as completely separate from the swimming task at hand. however, flipturns are all about maintaining earned momentum from swimming the straightaway. thus, like a baseball thrown through a U-shaped pipe, the inertial momentum gained from the straightaway should be enough to not only carry a swimmer through the turn but also provide for a certain amount of return flight. in effect, the greater one's momentum and use of that momentum, the greater the distance one can travel off the wall without the benefit of additionally expended energy.

now, to your particular issue: if you disregard your inertia at the start of your flipturn and instead choose to struggle through the flipturn as if an independent exercise (like performing a somersault on land from a dead start), then you will expend more energy and require more oxygen than you would if you allowed your inertia to help carry you through.

This is what I suspect is your problem. Another suspicion is that you aren't planting your feet properly on the wall. If you plant your feet too high, then you will push too deep -- which unnecessarily adds underwater time to your flipturn. Please let me know if these suggestions help.



Rob Copeland
March 7th, 2007, 12:13 PM

An interesting theory, however I must respectfully disagree with a couple of your points.

First there isnít a rebound effect associated with a flip turn (as you illustrated in your baseball example). If I approach the wall at maximum speed, flip and plant my feet without pushing off the wall, or I do the same motions moving slowly, I get just as far off the wall (nowhere). Maximizing your speed into the wall means that you arenít adding time over the last 5 meters of the length AND it helps to get your legs into the optimal position to push. All of you power off the wall is generated by leg push from the static position of feet on the wall. Your speed off the wall is dictated by this leg/foot push and your body position (streamline and angle), not by how fast you approach the wall.

And second, I would characterize a flip turn as a physical instead of a mental feat.

March 7th, 2007, 02:34 PM
With deepest respect to my coaches, I want to give you my humble opinion. I had the same problem and I did 2 things:

work on performing quicker flip-turns (less time holding the breath)
approaching the wall, take more frequent and deeper breaths (more oxygen accumulation)for the first one, do the flip-turn without the wall exercise (at the middle of the pool swim 4-5 strokes, flip-turn, swim 4-5 strokes to the other side and do the same at least 8-10 times in your workouts.
good luck

March 7th, 2007, 02:43 PM
First, to address your second point, I said that flipturns are largely a mental feat. For any given feat, there is a mental and physical component. Some feats are more physical, like a long jump attempt, and others are largely mental, like --I believe -- flipturns. In 16 years of teaching and or coaching swimmers, 10 times out of 10 when a person has difficulty with the flipturn, it traces back to a psychological block. That strikes me as making flipturns largely a mental feat. Though, I concede that one won't kick very far if he or she is only using mental feet.

Second, to address your first point:

"First there isnít a rebound effect associated with a flip turn."

When one exectutes a proper flipturn, inertia moves the body around in a flip. You certainly still need to tuck your chin and try to stick your head into your bellybutton, but it's inertia that fuels the flip around. Once you plant your feet, then -- I suppose -- one could imagine there being need for some kinesiology study to prove what role, if any, inertia plays. Certainly, doing nothing at that point would lead to some natural forward motion from the wall, but you certainly wouldn't be jetting through the water at breakneck speed. So, where I suppose I am walking on thin ice is in the part about return flight ("rebound effect"). Does the amount of bounce back from the wall caused by residual inertia become consumed by the thrust off the wall, or does it add to the thrust in some way? That is a good question that I should not have presented as fact. You got me on that one. However, I do think it a valid question. For instance, I would imagine that the inertia serves to break the inital water resistance to travel in the opposite direction, thereby reducing the amount of thrust energy used in the initial take-off -- but maybe it doesn't. I don't have a kinesiology or even a physics degree to tell you for sure, but I do have 16 years of experience in swim instruction that has shown me time and time again that people that utilize their inertia for the flipturn have better and longer starts from the wall than when they don't. When one glides right into a flipturn (inertia) versus when someone forces a flipturn (additional expenditure of energy) is a very visible thing to observe, and I stand by my observations (absent some new study that illustrates differently).

Further, as far as Sibet's issue at hand goes, I maintain that inertia should have a very large role in everything leading up to the planting of feet -- so my analysis stands. If one, for instance, pops up one's head to take a breath before one starts a flipturn, then that person has effectively destroyed the role of inertia in the subsequent flipturn. To effect that flipturn, the swimmer must now expend new energy and will likely perform the flipturn slower (and likely with flapping arms) than he or she would had he or she utilized the inertial energy. The longer time underwater and additional expenditure of energy will certainly -- in my mind at least -- have an effect on how well the push off the wall goes in terms of maintaining one's breath and gaining distance without losing speed. You are entitled to disagree, of course.