So I spent the weekend with flip turns in the back of my mind pretty much all the time. I wasn't fixated on them or stressed about them but the movement and the breathing was like a constant hum in the background. I thought about flip turns:
- while I ran 16k on a very windy Saturday morning
- while we watched the men's curling on TV and watched one team win $13,000 simply for making a draw to the button
- while I spent most of Sunday at my desk backing up my photos from 2012...and 2011
- while we watched episode 3 of Downton Abbey
I woke up on Monday morning eager and dreading getting into the pool.
I wanted to get better at flip turns and the only way to do that is to practice...which means more chlorine up my nose and more panicked breathing and unladylike gasps for air.
I was the first one in the pool and didn't even wait for instructions. I pulled on my goggles and immediately headed across to the opposite wall, took a deep breath and did a flip turn. Water went up my nose.
I immediately felt a sense of defeat.
Which I immediately pushed away and headed back to the other side. I took a deep breath and did a flip turn. I flipped, planted my feet on the wall, pushed off and continued.
I'm sure it wasn't perfect or particularly beautiful but I executed all five steps in order without inhaling the pool!
Mondays are endurance swims and we started with a 1,000m warm up which consisted of swimming, pulling with a pull-buoy and kicking. I did flip turns at every end (except when kicking because I don't think that's possible) and succeeded at most of them.
One, however was a little embarrassing. It happened when I was joined in my lane by another swimmer which meant that we now had to circle swim rather than swim up and down in a straight line. Circle swimming basically means swimming along the edges of the lane - you go up the right side and come down the left. This allows several swimmers to share a lane without crashing into each other.
I immediately wondered how to do a flip turn while circle swimming. Do I head up the right side, flip and then push myself off at an angle to head back down the left side? Do I angle myself across to the left corner before I get to the wall so that I can flip turn and then head straight down the left side?
I opted for option two. Swim the last few strokes at an angle so I'm ready to head back down the lane as soon as I flip. I chose this option because I'm not good at controlling my body in space and figured if I tried to push off at an angle, I'd end up three lanes over and at the bottom of the pool. Best to swim at an angle and then push off in a straight line.
Here's how it went. I swam up the right side for about 20m (out of 25). I angled myself on the last few strokes so I was near the left side of the lane. I did a flip turn and...
...well that's where it fell apart.
See, I got to the wall at an angle (which makes sense in hindsight since I swam at the wall at an angle) and knew I'd have to somehow fix the angle or I'd end up pushing off at a weird angle. (That is indeed a lot of angles and reminds me why my head hurts when I try to figure out how to throw a curling rock at the correct angle to hit three opponent rocks out of the house...). So I moved my body in such a way as to correct my angle (I thought anyway), flip turned and tried to push off the wall.
Unfortunately there was no wall to push off of.
I popped up, completely disorientated, and discovered that I had flip turned parallel to the wall (rather than a normal perpendicular flip) and found myself with my head facing one ladder and my legs facing the other. The wall was beside me.
I looked around sheepishly but, thankfully, everyone else was too busy swimming to notice the spatially-challenged girl in lane four.
We swam 1,000m during the warm and an additional 2,000m during the workout. Other than the 200m of kicking, I flipped at nearly every turn. That, my friends, is over 100 flip turns.
They were not pretty. I struggled with my breathing and popped my head up at the wall for a last gasp on several occasions. I pushed off at weird angles and sometimes flipped so far from the wall that there was no wall to push off of.
But I did 100+ flip turns on Monday.
That is 100 more flip turns that I thought was even possible last week.