Get better at tumble turns and touch turns

Not just useful in the pool, a well executed turn is a good weapon to have in the locker

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Many swimmers see the tumble turn as what separates competitive swimmers from the recreational. However, a poorly executed turn can of course slow you down!

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The benefits of a (good) tumble turn are that you can bounce off the walls at speed, maintaining momentum. This encourages you to use your core to get away quickly.

This can transfer to open-water turns, where you need to get tight around the buoys rather than swimming in a wide arc. But this skill can be practised just as well with a good touch turn.

Triathlete swimming round a buoy

Tumble turns

My favourite drill for learning tumble turns is to lie on your side as if to do side kick, kicking gently and sculling to keep you in place.

Tuck your knees up close to your chest and push them out toward your outstretched hand. If you do this sharply enough and tuck up quickly, you should stay afloat and on the spot. 

You can then try this against a wall, keeping both arms outstretched and hopefully not dragging yourself into the wall!

It’s the skill of tucking your knees into your chest quickly that will help you swim tight to OW turn buoys – or just maintain your momentum effectively in the pool.

Swimmer exiting a tumble turn

Touch turns

To perform a good touch turn, swim into and off the wall in a straight line without stopping. Most swimmers swim in down one side, stop, move across the lane, and then push off in a big U-shape.

Instead, aim for the middle of the lane in your final couple of metres, and push off in a V–shape. This will invariably take a couple of seconds off your 100m splits.

Swimmer making a touch turn

(Images: Colin Baldwin / Jonny Gawler)

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For lots more swimming advice, head to our Training section