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Question: Backstroke Turns

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Question:

What is permissible in doing a backstroke turn?

Answer:

In backstroke, the requirement is for some part of the body to touch the wall at the turn. Prior to the turn, you are permitted to leave your back and turn over onto the breast in order to execute the turn. If you leave the back, only one single or double arm pull is permitted and you must initiate the turn before the conclusion of the arm pull. Any other kicking, pulling, or gliding motion that is separate from this continuous turning motion is not permitted.

Note that swimmers are not required to perform what some people call a backstroke flip turn. You can also touch the wall with your hand or arm at the turn and do an “open turn”. Or, if you turn over on to the breast, you can touch the wall with your hand, as long as you don’t take another pull, kick into the wall, or glide into the wall without initiating the turn.

Charles Cockrell
USMS Rules Committee Chair

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