Make sure you’re first out of the water with our easy-to-follow guide to faster turns…

Fast turns are important for all triathletes. Most of you will train in a pool, executing turns sometimes more than 100 times in each session. You may wonder: ‘Why do we need to be good at turns, when triathletes don’t do turns in an open water race?’ Here’s why: a fast turn in training will give you the edge on race day. In the words of a great coach I once had; “Tumble turns are not a change in pace, just direction.”

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble TurnsThe key is, when you’ve got a great turn you never slow down during training – you simply change the direction you’re swimming – which is exactly what you’ll need to do on an open-water swim course.

Transferable skills

If you can change direction without losing pace then you’ve cracked it. Think of it in this context, how else better to train for the swim leg of a triathlon than to keep up the pace and effort through every turn? Fast turns could make an even a bigger difference for triathlons where the swim leg is in a pool.

In training or racing, you could get up to a body length on your competition with every lap if you have a good tumble turn. This means a saving of around two seconds each lap. If you do the maths, that’s almost one minute for a 750- metre swim in a 25-metre pool! Type ‘Michael Phelps freestyle multi angle camera’ into You Tube ( for a perfect example of a fast tumble turn.

Click through our gallery to perfect your tumble turn in five easy steps

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble Turns

1 Head For The Magic T

There is a ‘T’ on the tiles at the end of each lane in the swimming pool. Kick to accelerate towards it and when you are directly over it, take one strong stroke, leaving the other arm by your side.

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble Turns

2 Tuck Your Chin And Roll

Tuck your chin into your chest and begin a forward roll, using your leading arm to give you leverage and balance.

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble Turns

3 No More Water Up Your Nose

This should leave you facing the surface with your legs near the wall. Humming during the forward roll should help stop water going up your nose.

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble Turns

4 Kick Off And Rotate

Once your legs hit the wall, push off immediately and rotate your body so that you are facing the bottom of the swimming pool.

Triathlon Swimming - Tumble Turns

5 Be A Torpedo

Stretch your arms forwards into a streamlined torpedo position, with one hand on top of the other. Remain below the surface, kicking hard until you get to the flags (5m out) where you can start swimming normally again.