Stop Trying to Make Flip Turns Happen, Teresa

I’ve been forcing myself to go to the group swims held every other weekend in an effort to improve my swim splits this coming season from “abysmal” to “passably mediocre.” I went to the first one on dead legs thanks to two hours of workouts beforehand, then missed the second group swim because I was running on empty and needed a rest day. The third class was this past weekend, and as always, I dreaded it because it involved me getting into a pool and using horrible form to propel myself through chilly chlorinated water. For this particular swim class, however, Teresa decided to torture me further by announcing that we were all going to work on flip turns.

Unsurprisingly, this mediocre athlete don’t do flip turns. I very obviously lack the coordination and skill to pull off a graceful somersault in the water and push off the wall in one fluid motion. Once I went to a flip turn clinic that Teresa was teaching at the Seattle Athletic Club, and not only did I burn out my sinuses from the military-grade chlorine that flooded my nasal passages every time I contorted my body underwater (Teresa’s shouts to “Tuck your chin!” did not help, as apparently I am incapable of scrunching my head in that manner), I would more often than not attempt to flip at the end of the lane and end up in the one next to me, having somehow maneuvered myself underneath the lane divider and crookedly emerging in some other swimmer’s personal space. “Just practice doing flip turns during your warm ups and cool downs!”, Teresa would tell me. Uh yeah, if I can’t even stay in my lane during a mostly empty swim clinic, I can’t imagine a pool full of lap swimmers would appreciate my flailing appendages slapping into them while I repeatedly apologize and insist to their bruised faces that practice makes perfect.

So yeah, flip turns aren’t for me. It’s not a big deal–I’m slow and crappy enough as it is, so adding a flip turn into the mix isn’t going to be the deciding factor in me suddenly becoming as fast as Dara Torres. When I get to the wall I just turn around and push off, so it’s not like I’m taking a five minute break at each end. I’ve accepted the fact that flip turns and I will never have a future together in a pool with a yard and a white picket fence and 2.5 kiddie pools, and that’s okay.

Or so I thought. Here T was trying to force flip turns on me once again. She’d have us swim for a bit and then do something dumb like somersault in the middle of the pool. Fortunately, she exempted those of us who “got dizzy” when trying flip turns, so I feigned vertigo and opted just to swim a couple laps instead. The next step was to have people swim to the end of a lane and attempt a flip turn, but I opted to splash around in the middle of the pool and daydream about the day when the swim portion of a triathlon would be replaced with something more practical like light stretching or cookie eating.

After the flip turn nonsense, as the workout came to an end I thought I was in the clear. And then T did something especially dastardly: she combined my two most loathed swim activities, flip turns and relays. Teresa is a fan of concluding the swim classes with some relay bullshit, which I hate because it makes me irrationally stressed. She breaks us into groups and gives us some dumb stuff to do, like everyone has to do 50 yards of drills or some swim stroke I never practice and totally suck at. This part of the workout is always terrible because it’s at the end, so I’m already exhausted and can barely swim any more, and because I’m slow as shit so I always feel like I’m letting my team down (the last two times I did a swim relay with a group, my team came in last).

So now we were tasked with swimming 50 yards starting from the middle of the pool, with one end being a flip turn and the other end being a push off. My group consisted of Fast Guy, Fast Guy, Fast Guy, and me. I refused to be the anchor because I didn’t want to totally ruin whatever lead we had going in, so they stuck me in the third position. When it was my turn to go, I swam to the wall and skipped the whole “flip turn” part, figuring my faux-dizziness excuse would exempt me. I finished my leg and my last teammate took off to finish. When he was done we realized we were in first place. Hooray! Wahoo! We’re #1!

And then Teresa disqualified us because I didn’t do a flip turn. What?! But…vertigo! Dizziness! Or maybe just an unwillingness to do them because they hurt my sinuses and I suck at them and they’re stupid! Whatever. Flip turns are overrated–it’s not like skipping the turn gave me a 30 second lead or anything. Sorry I let you down, guys. I was the turd in the punchbowl.

We did another relay to end the workout, then called it a day. And so Saturday was Teresa’s yearly attempt to get me to work on flip turns. Teresa, in case you’re thinking about trying to teach them to me again, here’s some advice from resident Mean Girl Regina George:

"Flip turns" and "fetch": both failed experiments.

4 Responses to “ “Stop Trying to Make Flip Turns Happen, Teresa”

  1. Randy (the human javelin) Perkins says:

    There are no swim lanes, flip turns or chlorine in the open water! 😉

  2. Mary moltman says:

    Remember those ladies at the public swim? They know you’re fast and they don’t do flip turns either. I hope the swim coach of the masters swim program I go to never reads your blog. He makes us do crap like breast stroke, and back stroke and the dreaded sculling, but not flip turns. T is super mean! But she did help you kick the Seattle Half, so you gotta give her some credit.

  3. George says:

    Mary is right, you have it good. Our swim Coach makes us Swim! At 5:30AM!

    Coach T, sounds like our kind of Coach. Does she accept Canadian money?

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