There has been a debate on the go for ages as to whether triathletes should do tumble turns. I believe that all swimmers should, and here are my reasons:
- Tumble turns look cool.
There is nothing as cool as walking past a pool and seeing a huge splash area at the end of a lane. Tumble turns are cool, and you want to look cool.
- Tumble turns are good for backs.
When you swim, your lower back goes into an exaggerated C shape. The front top of the hip rotates downward, and the coccyx rotates upwards. The correct terminology for this is an anterior pelvic tilt. This can have the effect of shortening some of the lower back muscles. A tumble turn gives you the chance of stretching them out again. I have written more about that here.
- Tumble turns help you to control your breathing.
As you approach the wall you take one big breath, you typically have to hold on to that for a stroke, and then for the extended turn slowly breath out through your nose and push off from the wall. You will feel a bit ‘oxygen hungry’ after all of this. Swimmers who learn to control their breathing are less likely to panic if they miss a breath because of a wave going over them while in open water.
- Swimming is all about repetition.
Swimming is tricky. You can put most people on a bike and they can ride – sort of. Most can put on a pair of running shoes and go for a short run. Swimming is different. The skill levels are through the roof. A tumble turn is a skill that’s perfected over time. Your first few tumble turns may be tricky – mine were. I can remember not knowing where the surface was as my body spun out of control. I remember popping my head up in the wrong lane. I can also remember, over time, getting things right and the thrill of learning another skill.
- Putting one arm out to help you lift and rotate your body can cause shoulder strain.
Watch a non-tumble turner as they approach the wall. Either their left or right arm will hit the wall, push down as they lift their torso, and then twist backward as they twist their torso around. The downward repetitive motion on your humerus can cause all sorts of shoulder issues, shortened pectorals and strained rhomboids.
- It’s quicker to do a tumble turn.
This is one of my favorite humor pieces and it’s true.
Two links: The most important part of your swim stroke. This will take 2 min 43 sec to watch.
The second link will give you details of a swim squad that I run – Swim squad details.
Hope this all helps,