Pool swimming

SteveB  Nov 1st 2006 at 20:54
To tumble or not to tumble? That is the question.
Is there an advantage to spending time learning this technique or is it best to keep to simple turns and save more for your stroke?
28 replies
Brick  Nov 1st 2006 at 21:22
Not tumble.

None of the pool based triathlons that I\'ve been in have allowed it.
SteveB  Nov 1st 2006 at 21:30

Thanks for the reply. Well, I never knew that. I have been looking at ways to improve pool times and tumble seemed like a way to go, but if it\'s not allowed in pools then I suppose on the plus side it\'s one less thing to worry about!!
Oziem  Nov 2nd 2006 at 09:57
Tumbles are good practice when swimming in a pool because you don\'t get the little rest at either end of the pool. I\'m still a learner though, I always get completely knackered if I tumble. I seem to go to deep every time.
"Must tri harder"
Dermski  Nov 3rd 2006 at 14:33
Wjile your on the subject..
I\'ve recently been trying to learn to tumble turn, as I thought it could help improve my swimming times. Although it usually results in more of a drowning atempt than actually having any improvement. Can anyone recommend any hints, tips or websites that may help out?

Great website by the way!
paulhorsfall  Nov 9th 2006 at 14:51
Is that true about not being allowed to tumble in pool based triathlons? what a load of rubbish that would be. Perhaps they should not allow clipless pedals too, or aerodynamic bikes. Or running trainers?

Dave Oz, I can probably teach you how to tumble if you want!
Dermski  Nov 10th 2006 at 11:20
The best thing to do is e-mail the organisers and find out before hand. I\'m doing the Edinburgh New years day tri, I contacted the organisers and tumble turns are allowed but you also have to switch lanes in the process, so its something else I\'m including in my training.
SteveB  Nov 10th 2006 at 23:08
Well, I been practicing the somersault bit, well half a somersault as the idea is to push off upside down! I am finding it tricky, also I get loads of water up my nose!!
Nose clips for me for Xmas!
bambamar  Nov 28th 2006 at 08:36
Admittedly i\'ve only done 6 triathlons (all pool based) there has never been any restriction on turning techniques. The advantages of tumble turning far outweigh any disadvantages. The improvement in times can be quite remarkable.

I was lucky that I learnt to tumble turn 25 years ago as a competitive swimmer and it is now second nature to me.
SteveB  Dec 8th 2006 at 12:09
I have now developed a problem with tumble turns. I\'m going over with the somersault and I\'m losing my bearings and come up facing extreme to the left. I can\'t get back to normal, and I feel very disoriented when I do it. Any ideas?
guy.douglass  Dec 15th 2006 at 09:02
Don\'t worry about it. The amount of time you will save by tumble turning can be saved much more easily in the other two disciplines. An efficient one-handed turn can be nearly as fast and you won\'t waste precious training time when you\'re in the pool.
A good swimming technique has transformed my swimming times and I don\'t tumble turn. I get the impression you want to progress to Olympic length tris anyway, so tumbling will become irrelevant.
MHL  Dec 15th 2006 at 14:04
Like bambamar I learn\'t to tumble during club training sessions (27 years ago at the age of 6) I honestly can\'t remember how I was taught as it just seems natural to me. I would thoroughly recommend you persevere with learning as you will get so much more out of your training sessions (as you will not be tempted to take a little breather at the end of each length) You could always try a session with a swimming teacher. Good luck.
Dermski  Dec 15th 2006 at 14:36
Have to agree with guy.douglass. I gave up trying to tumble turn after a few weeks of trying; my attempts weren’t very pretty, and really started working on my swimming technique. My swimming times have dropped dramatically so I’m saving way more time and energy than I ever would on doing a few tumbles!

RichG  Dec 19th 2006 at 07:03
No way!! Stick with it! tumbles do save you time and are allowed in most races. If they aren\'t saving you time then you just need to practice a little more. I used to hate tumbles and think they were not worth it, but if you work on them and get into a good rythmn then they become second nature.

My advice would be to try and slip them in training when you\'re warming up/down first and not when your mid session, then start slipping them in when you\'re comfortable with them.

I reckon they\'re worth up to a second per turn, if you\'re not convinced try swimming against someone who tumbles well and see for yourself!
RichG  Dec 19th 2006 at 07:04
or.... maybe all those Olympic swimmers are all wrong....
jhkrug  Dec 20th 2006 at 12:40
I can tumble turn but at my age I prefer the extra breath I get at the end of each length by not having to keep my head down looking for the wall. You may laugh but at most I lose 30 seconds which is acceptable at my level of competition. I get out feeling less tired. All my swims over 750m have been open water. Getting from 12 to 11 stone will make a much bigger difference to my overall times for me.

SteveB  Dec 20th 2006 at 16:33
Thanks for all the input on this thread, much appreciated.
I have been watching a swimmer for a couple of weeks at my local pool who has been tumbling and it looks effortless(as all good swimmers do!) and have spoken to her about it. She used to swim at a very high level and funnily enough her first triathlon last year was also the one I did! Her opinion is that tumble turns should be second nature for anyone who wants to swim freestyle, and are an integral part of the stroke.
She has offered to analyse my stroke and give me a few pointers. Turns out she works in the same office buildings as me, so could prove quite useful.( no comments please, I am a very happily married man!) But she has suggested I get in touch with my local swimming club as they have a masters group which trains 3 times a week at a leisure centre I am a member of. So all good then.
Tumble turns do make sense for pool swimming. My main focus of the year will be open water swimming, but obviously the main way to practice technique is in the pool, and I need a way of trying to maintain the effort for endurance whilst turning, easy to easy off on a regular turn. Just a shame the pool I go to mostly is 33 metres long!!! Who in god\'s name came up with that length!!!!

SteveB  Dec 20th 2006 at 16:47
Thanks for all the input on this thread, all good stuff!

I been watching someone who tumble turns at my pool. They turn as I am doing and before I know it they are a good 4 or 5 metres up the pool again before I have turned!
I\'m sure it is beneficial to do it. My focus for next year is UK Half Ironman, so open water swimming is the deal there. Doing Bournemouth Olympic and Swanage classic, both open water swims. So I need to get best possible endurance training from my pool swims, and I think the consensus is to tumble turn. I have managed to fins a coach who will look at my stroke in January and give me some pointers and has recommended I join my local swimming club who have a masters section, training 3 times a week. Seems like the way to go. I ain\'t gonna get faster on my own. And more than the other 2 disciplines, it\'s all about technique. I had given up on the tumble turns for the last 3 weeks, but I\'m going to start in the new year and make an effort to at least do them, if a little scrappy at first!

SteveB  Jan 6th 2007 at 23:13
I think tumbles are the way to go, but I\'m not getting on very well with them. I have notcied swimmers catching me at the end of a length and before I have turned they are half way back up the pool again!! it does seem tumbling is much quicker. I\'m joining a tri club this year which does some coached swim sessions, might give me the chance to get some advice and time to practice.
another question for the swimmers. Is it worth me getting a pullbuoy to train with. I have a problem with being too low in the water and am trying my hardest to get more streamlined in the water. I\'m not sure how to use them properly, will one help? once I get the idea of them!
Chig  Jan 8th 2007 at 18:40
Pullbouys have pro\'s and con\'s: they lift your legs into a better position and make most triathletes swim much better, however, several authors suggest that you can become reliant on them, and should learn correct technique by changing your body position.
My personal view is that given the outlay - around £5, they\'re not going to break the bank. They give you a feel of how your body should be positioned, which you can try a replicate in sets without them. They\'re also great for a ercovery swim after a hard bike or run, so you can rest your legs for some of the time. I think its the best value piece of tri-kit I\'ve bought!

PS, if you\'re going to a clud session with one, write your name on it with a permanent marker, so it doesn\'t get lost with all the club kit!!
Chig  Jan 8th 2007 at 18:44
clud?? quality typing. Should obviously read club!!
My worthless view on tumble turns: certainly save time when you\'re proficient; make you go anaerobic when you\'re not!! Really good for simulating long open water sets in the pool, as you remove the option to take a sneaky rest at the end. Get someone who\'s proficient to talk you though it, and just stick at it. Its just practice, practice, practice, but don\'t overdo it and make yourself sea-sick like I did!
SteveB  Jan 9th 2007 at 21:08
Ok, my mind is now made up! Tumble turns!! I will conquer! Or at least have a go and persevere!
And on the pull buoys, I may as well get one and give it a try for a few times. Can do no harm, and I like the sound of resting legs on recovery days!
Ok, more money donated to Wiggle!
guy.douglass  Jan 15th 2007 at 13:54
Since the question was re pool swimming then fair enough. But tumble turning isn\'t much use in a lake! So I\'ve concentrated on other time-saving stuff instead.
RichG  Jan 15th 2007 at 23:25
Tumble turns aren\'t useful in a lake??

So, do we send a message to all the budding young triathletes out there that stopping to clutch onto a nice tiled concrete wall to take an extra breath is good for swimming in a lake?

Its just that I\'ve never personally seen a lake with such handy walls placed at 25M intervals...

So if we follow this logic through we should also stop all technique drills?? because you wouldn\'t do them when you\'re racing in a lake, we should always wear our wetsuits in the pool???, and we need to get 500 other people to come to all of our swim sessions to make a realistic massed start??? Crumbs!! I\'ve been wasting so much time!! I\'d better throw out my turbo trainer, I\'ll never need that in a race! why do core exercises and stretches? you\'ll never do them half way around a run course, and I suppose there\'ll be no more club runs on the bike because there\'s no benefit in training with other riders unless we are all 10 meters apart???? Its a revolution!! forget skill and technique development, its all about treating every training session like it was a race! forget 100 years of science, those 19th century athletes were right!
guy.douglass  Jan 16th 2007 at 08:59
OK Rich, point taken!
I\'m probably just trying to persuade myself that I don\'t need to spend precious time trying to tumble turn, but I\'m sure you\'re right.
I do loads of drills and technique training with the club and they all help enormously, but I only have a finite amount of time I can spend training so I have to pick those that are likely to be be the most effective in reducing times. Once I\'ve got my swimming on the surface in a straight line sussed then tumble turns will be next on my list!
RichG  Jan 16th 2007 at 23:04
Hehe! finite time, I know what you mean! Transitions are my sticking point - in theory so easy. The 20 seconds I might gain from tumble turning in a pool tri are offset by the 2 minutes I loose faffing around in transition
SteveB  Jan 21st 2007 at 17:58
I am fortunate that I have both open water and pools close at hand. I do go at least once a week to swim in the sea, even in the cold weather. I havea number of Cat C an races this year which form part of my training, mainly sprint tris and hence mostly pool swims. The 3 Cat A races I have are Ironman UK 70.3, Bournemouth Tri(Olympic dist) and Swanage Classic(Olympic). 1 lake and 2 open water.
My main focus for the year is the 70.3 event. I can swim the 1.9km, but as the bulk of my training is obviously in the pool, I was just looking for the best way of turning that would help build swim endurance whilst increasing speed and saving energy. And as the other sprint tris are in pools then it seems learning to tumble would be worthwhile. Plus makes me look like I know what I\'m doing in the pool!!!!
Guest  Jan 23rd 2007 at 14:53
Interesting that you have races where the swim leg is done in a pool. None of the races in this region are swimming pool based (all open water). I also cannot think of any back in Oz that are pool based either.... this is why we never bother with learning to tumble-turn in our swim squad.

We have some ex-national swimmers in our squad who do tumble like second nature but I cannot keep up with them between lengths neverlone at the turn :-0

Our biggest annoyance is that many races here involve two loops of a swim course where you need to run out of the water and then back in (so they can count your number) for the second lap.
Chig  Feb 1st 2007 at 21:16
Hey slow_bike, maybe you could do a forward roll between laps to simulate a tumble turn!!
Such courses aren't unusual, several Ironman races have this format. I like the break from swimming, and the chance to evacuate some nasal fluids - sorry if thats too much information.
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