Tumble turn

Tumble turn

A tumble turn, or "flip turn" is a technique used by swimmers to reverse the direction in which they are swimming. It is usually done when the swimmer reaches the end of the swimming pool but still has one or more lengths to swim.

The technique's development is credited, by the International Swimming Hall of Fame, to legendary University of Texas swim coach Tex Robertson while he was training Adolph Kiefer for the 1936 Olympics. [cite web | url = http://www.texassports.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=20&url_article_id=7131&url_subchannel_id=&change_well_id=2| title = Former Men's Swimming and Diving coach "Tex" Robertson passes away at 98
publisher = Texassports.com | date = 2007-08-27 | accessdate = 2007-09-17


Before executing the turn, the swimmer must be in the water face-down and about an arm's length from the edge of the pool. The turn begins with a forward somersault rapidly followed by the exertion of the feet against the side of the pool the swimmer was initially approaching. If the length after the turn is backstroke the swimmer will push off on the back and glide underwater and transition into the stroke. If the length after the turn is front crawl the swimmer will turn his or her body to 90 degrees and push off and glide on their side, rotating to 180 degrees and back onto their front during the underwater glide. Completing the rotation during the glide saves time by reducing body roll during the rotation. Note that in order to execute the turn if initially doing backstroke, the swimmer must first roll over such that he/she is in the water face-down. Tumble turns are only permitted during front crawl and backstroke races. In butterfly and breaststroke races, regulations require swimmers to touch the end of the pool with both hands simultaneously before turning back for another length, rendering the turn impractical.


The tumble turn is preferred in competitive swimming because it allows the momentum into the wall to be transferred into speed as the next length is begun. It is not required, but it is highly recommended as it is much, much faster, giving the competitive swimmer who uses it an advantage over swimmers who turn by touching the wall with the hands.

Teaching tumble turns

Tumble turns may be taught as follows:

1. Somersault - this is the first step in learning to tumble turn. Novice swimmers should practice this until they can fluently somersault, and arrive at the starting position at completion of the turn.

2. Practice somersault at a wall - swimmers can swim to the wall and then tumble turn at arms-length away from the wall.

3. Practice somersault and push-off on back (face-up). This is the backstroke tumble turn.

4. Introduce the 90 degree rotation for the front crawl tumble turn.

5. Practice a longitudinal roll onto the front to complete the rotation and resume swimming on the front ready to transition into front crawl.

Note: it is very important to have swimmers fluently doing Step 3 before moving onto Step 4. Otherwise the final two elements of the turn may become combined and result in an incorrect tumble turn technique.


* [http://www.britishswimming.org/ Amateur Swimming Association] (ASA), Swimming Teaching and Coaching, Level 1, Hogarth L. (1998).
* [http://coachesinfo.com/category/swimming/281/ Optimising Swim Turn Performance] , Coaches' Information Service
* [http://www.robinbrewsports.com/articles2.htm Swimming and Triathlon Training] , Robin Brew Sports
*Leisure Press, Swimming into the 21st Century - Colwin C. Mayfield, Swim Even Faster, Maglischo E W, (Edit.1993).
*Pelham Books, Coaching the Young Swimmer, Wilke K, Madsen O, (1992/3).
*Wolfe Medical Publications, Athletic Ability and the Anatomy of Motion, Wirhed R, (1984).

External links

* [http://swimming.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pullbuoy.co.uk%2Ftumbles.html About.com] , Tumble Turn Basics

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • tumble turn — /ˈtʌmbəl tɜn/ (say tumbuhl tern) noun a turn carried out underwater enabling a swimmer to change direction when reaching an end of a pool …   Australian English dictionary

  • tumble — [13] Tumble was borrowed from Middle Low German tummelen, which has other relatives in modern German tummeln ‘bustle, hurry’ and taumeln ‘reel, stagger’. All were formed from a base that also found its way into the Romance languages, producing… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • tumble — [13] Tumble was borrowed from Middle Low German tummelen, which has other relatives in modern German tummeln ‘bustle, hurry’ and taumeln ‘reel, stagger’. All were formed from a base that also found its way into the Romance languages, producing… …   Word origins

  • turn on — Synonyms and related words: accrue from, amplify, annoy, arise from, arouse, awake, awaken, be based on, be contingent on, be dependent on, be due to, be predicated on, blow the coals, blow up, bring up, broach, bud from, call forth, call up,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • turn over — I. (Active.) 1. Turn, reverse the position of, roll over. 2. Transfer, hand over. 3. Open and examine page by page. 4. Overset, overturn. II. (Neuter.) Roll over, tumble, turn from side to side …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • Tumble — Tum ble, v. t. 1. To turn over; to turn or throw about, as for examination or search; to roll or move in a rough, coarse, or unceremonious manner; to throw down or headlong; to precipitate; sometimes with over, about, etc.; as, to tumble books or …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tumble — (v.) c.1300, to perform as an acrobat, also to fall down, perhaps from a frequentative form of O.E. tumbian dance about, of unknown origin. Related to M.L.G. tummelen to turn, dance, Du. tuimelen to tumble, O.H.G. tumon, Ger. taumeln to turn,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • tumble — [tum′bəl] vi. tumbled, tumbling [ME tumblen, freq. of tumben < OE tumbian, to fall, jump, dance; akin to Ger tummeln, taumeln < OHG * tumalon, freq. of tumon, to turn < IE base * dheu , to be turbid > DULL] 1. to do somersaults,… …   English World dictionary

  • Turn — Turn, v. i. 1. To move round; to have a circular motion; to revolve entirely, repeatedly, or partially; to change position, so as to face differently; to whirl or wheel round; as, a wheel turns on its axis; a spindle turns on a pivot; a man turns …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tumble — Tum ble, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Tumbled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Tumbling}.] [OE. tumblen, AS. tumbian to turn heels over head, to dance violently; akin to D. tuimelen to fall, Sw. tumla, Dan. tumle, Icel. tumba; and cf. G. taumeln to reel, to stagger.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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