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Social Acceptance vs. What is Mathematically Correct: Swimming

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blog-0249348001343550634.jpgA few questions for all of you. I want to ask if you've ever thought about a way to quantify a reduced time in a flip turn vs. an open turn, taking into account where the turn started given a set point in the pool. How long did it really take you to get back to that set point in the pool, and how much energy did you use doing it?

Several other factors would come into play even if this was set up in a controlled environment: How fast the swimmer was going, did they start their turn at the exact same point on both runs, how many breaths were taken getting to the turn, how much inertia was carried from the push off of the wall getting back to the set point, etc., but for the sake of preventing cataclysmic frustration and unrealistic expectations for an experiment, we'll assume these as environmental constants if we were to recreate it.

The reason I'm asking these questions runs back to social acceptance in relation to techniques used in competitive sports, and the amount of peer pressure that can come with it. I highly doubt any high school swim coach set up a high speed camera to accurately benchmark when a swimmer passed a given point in the pool, and how long it took them to reach that same point upon turning, nor would they even have thought to, as it would've conflicted with their already solidified schema of how "real" swimming should look.

Here are some of the common "arguments" for open vs. flip turns that don't even bother taking a numerical standpoint on the issue:

- But you look ridonkulous doing open turns - I don't care, I'm not here to look cool, this isn't a popularity contest, and I'm not in high-school. I am here to be the fastest swimmer I can be.

- But you don't streamline properly - You can learn to streamline in an open turn or a flip turn.

- But it helps you control your breath - So don't breath when taking an open turn.

- You can't grab a wall in the open water and take an extra breath - Last I checked you don't flip in open water and push off a wall either.

Something I want to point out, "it adds yards" is a really silly standpoint to take if there is a possibility that open turning may be a faster way to get your feet to and off the wall. I will never take linear one-issue-covering counter arguments on variable heavy subjects seriously. "Longer distance swam" means nothing to me if someone can cover that distance in a shorter amount of time by doing something that is "against the grain". In the spirit of the internet, "pics or it didn't happen". If flip turns are quantifiably faster than open turns, then please show me.

I could probably talk about this for days, but I'll stop myself here and leave you with some space to ponder. Someone think me up a punch line for swim blogs!

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Being a swim coach, but also remembering when I first started swimming I have both perspectives. When first learning flip turns and not being in shape to maintain breath control through an entire race (greater than a 50), generally an open turn is faster. I actually proved this with a few of my newer swimmers last season in the 500. I had them start out doing turns in the first 200ish when they are fresh and able to use their momentum to get through the wall and then transition to open turns as fast as possible to maintain oxygen in their bodies. This was fine, but they ended up being faster in the end once they were in better shape and better at flip turns to maintain the entire race.

The problem with an open turn over a forward flip is momentum and body drag in the water. The forward flip turn uses your bodies momentum to power over yourself in the same direction, plant your feet, and propel your body off of the wall. Whereas, an open turn you reach to the wall and your feet/legs must pull/push through the water(albeit a short distance) to get to the wall and then also plant and propel off. When you are at a higher competitive level of swimming even if that is only .1 of a second it adds up, and it can be the difference in the race.

Obviously this was posted some time ago, but i just saw it and found it interesting. I have seen directly that for certain(non top lvl) swimmers that open turns can be beneficial and sometimes faster for them.

Just my .02

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I didnt think id ever learn about competitive swimming on these forums. It was a good read and a nice change to read. Props


Honestly forgot I even wrote this until tonight.  Glad you enjoyed it.  

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