Touch or Tumble?
All advanced swimmers will tumble turn when training in a pool. Most novice swimmers and a great deal of intermediate swimmers will touch and turn.
One of the things open swimmers love most about swimming open water is the ability to get lost in the continuous rhythm of the swim. This Zen like state is less likely to occur when we train in a pool. It is even less likely to occur when we train in a short course pool. *The term ‘Short course’ meaning 25M in length as opposed to long course which is 50M.
A tumble turn, when done well, is an extremely efficient ‘low energy – high return’ way for a swimmer to change directions. It will always be faster than a touch and turn. It is in essence a ‘break’ from the swim stroke. For a novice swimmer it can be a nightmare … judging the distance from the wall, exhaling air out ones nose while upside down, all the while trying to maintain enough air to get to the breakout point!
Should an open water swimmer use tumble turns when training in a pool? Here is our perspective … learning to tumble is not as important as learning to swim freestyle correctly. If you are time limited or simply exhausted from concentrating on technique … focus on the freestyle technique first. Learning to tumble turn can help get more comfortable and competent in the water . It gets swimmers familiar with unusual attitudes and helps swimmers learn to protect their breathing spaces: by this we mean if you can stop water getting up your nose upside down during a tumble turn you are far more likely to be able to achieve this when swimming in choppy open water as well.
However … you aren’t going to be doing too many tumble turns in your open water swimming ! Therefore although adding tumble turns into your 25M swimming will make you faster and help you beat up on other swimmers in the pool it will be less reflective of the time/pace you will maintain in open water. Do tumble turns by all means if you wish but we also recommend you spend a certain portion of your pool training swims touching and turning – it can end up being much harder than tumble turning! If you gave an elite pool swimmer a ‘touch and turn only’ session they would have a canary. If you are a touch and turn only swimmer and have time and motivation learning to tumble turn is another feather in your cap but we say it isn’t essential for your open water swimming.
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