Flip turns are one of those swimming techniques that set advanced swimmers apart from the amateurs. In addition to saving you time and maintaining a relatively constant degree of effort as you change directions in the pool, they just look incredibly cool as well.
You have probably seem them at the local pool or on TV during the Olympics: A swimmer goes full speed straight at the wall and almost seems as through that he or she does not know the pool is end. At the last minute, they turn a quick somersault, push off the wall in the new direction, and glide for a while before surfacing and taking a stroke. For freestyle and backstroke swimmers, these turns can save precious seconds compared to touching the wall with your hands, turning around, and pushing off.
They are not that difficult to learn. You start by going into a somersault in open water. Once you can do this efficiently, you will need to learn how to do this at the end of the pool. Finally, practice pushing your legs out and catching the wall as you soon. Ideally you will have a smooth movement from the turn into a long glide off the wall. One of the hardest things that just takes practice is turning at the correct distance from the wall. Too close and you won’t have any room to push off. Too far away, and you will push you feet out and never feel the wall, resulting in being motionless in the water! Most experienced swimmers can give you practical tips for improvement as well.