Does a triathlete need to know how to flip turn? There are no pool walls in a lake right? But truth to be told, most of us are going to spend most of our time training in a pool and so it's worth investing a little time in learning how to do the flip turn.
Last year, at the tail end of the tri swim class, I started to learn the basics of a flip turn and have been practicing it ever since during my training swims. Even though I have been doing them for a while, I still joined the flip turn clinic put on by Coach Katie yesterday... I thought, that it sure can't harm for somebody to look at it and make my turns more efficient and more consistent.
It was totally worth the time investment, because as it turns out, I developed a couple of habits that are less than efficient.
The first step for the flip turn is the somersault and so we somersaulted down the lane for a little while, to get a feel for it. To somersault, take three strokes, then leave your hands by your hips, tuck your chin and roll over. Things to watch are, that you stay straight and that you face the same direction before and after the somersault... Also, don't flail with your hands and arms, keep them close to your body. Probably the most important part is to side breath before you flip, because you need to have air available to breath out through your nose while flipping, so the water doesn't rush up your nose. So all together now: stroke left, stroke right & breath, stroke left, leave the right arm by your side, pull the left arm to your side, tuck your chin and roll over while breathing out of your nose... Make sure to stay in a straight line!
After that, it was time to practice on the wall. The first part stays just like that, only that you don't make a complete flip, but break the somersault half way through by planting your feet on the wall and then push off. It's going to take a little while to figure out for yourself, how close you have to be to the wall in order to be able to do a flip turn. For me it works to take the last breath right where the "cross" is at the end of the pool line, but it really depends on your body size and it'll take some practice.
Once your feet are on the wall, you push off and then you rotate your body with your arm overhead. Then utilize your momentum from pushing off the wall and streamline with some flutter kicks before starting back with your stroke and also take your first breath.
This is a boat load of information and that's why I put it here... I don't want to forget (again) myself.
Happy flip turning.