Autumn is the perfect time of year to change things up in your training, a well recognised strategy providing a contrast from your structured training during the year or resuming from an end of season break. Learning new skills or strokes adds competency in your swimming and functional strength to your freestyle. I receive requests from swimmers year-round about mastering tumble turns, perfecting a dive start and understanding individual medley, and this is often echoed by readers of 220Triathlon magazine with questions featured in the TriClinic that I respond to each month.
Incorporating a short, focused training block to work on your pool-based skills brings about performance and technical gains. With the changing of the seasons and a transient squad with triathletes resuming training after a break, it’s an ideal time for developing technical capability, improving confidence in new skill acquisition and fine tuning existing technique, such as learning to tumble turn by pushing off the wall on your back.
The image accompanying this 220Triathlon magazine Q&A showed a common scenario of the self taught athlete pushing off the wall after a tumble turn, almost sideways! To avoid twisting during the turn and ending up pushing off the wall, getting water in your airways, ending up in the next door swim lane, tangled in the lane rope or finding yourself too close or too far from the wall, follow the steps below. Utilise a staged approach and give yourself time to develop competency at each stage. It doesn’t take long, just high quality, focused skill acquisition time. Keep applying the skills until you get it right, always end the set or session on a good note.
The best way to work on this key skill is to break it down into stages:
1) master a forward roll – ensure you can exhale competently throughout and freestyle in/ out of the roll in the direction of travel
2) land the forward roll in front of the wall, identifying the correct distance from the ‘T’ using a freestyle start – your toes must be pointing up and push off on your back facing the water surface!
3) incorporate the tumble turn into your training sets at aerobic pace, mastering the flip over onto your front as you push off the wall. Over time you will become conditioned to the effects of becoming hypoxic after turns and hardly notice even when swimming at CSS pace or practicing race efforts!
This video tutorial shows each stage at one of our squad sessions:
Thanks to coaches Stephanie and Tarek and also squad swimmers who lent their expertise during the tumble turn practice session
Practice makes permanent, not perfect!