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Here’s where you’re headed when learning the backstroke flip turn.

Notice how everything flows together... the final backstroke stroke... the crossover... the single pull that takes both hands to the sides... the immediate tuck into a straight-over flip... the solid foot placement... and the streamline push that puts the swimmer slightly on the side, but tilted more toward the back than the front.

Let’s watch it again... and then we’ll break it down into a 9-step teaching progression that begins with something the swimmer should already know... the freestyle flip turn.

Step #1: Learn the Freestyle Flip Turn
The first step in learning the backstroke flip turn is to master the freestyle flip turn, which we covered earlier in the video.

You should know how to approach the wall with arms at the sides, and how to execute a straight-over flip, with a solid push-off into streamline position on the back.

Step #2: 3-Stroke Crossover at Mid Pool
When learning the backstroke flip turn, it’s best to start by swimming away from the wall.

Start by kicking with both arms at your sides, and recover the right arm first.

As you start to pull with the right arm, start to recover the left arm.

After the left arm enters and begins to pull, turn your face down into the water.

As the face enters the water, the right arm continues to come over the top and crosses over to begin a pull that is 100 percent freestyle.

As both hands complete the pull, the hands stay at your sides and you begin to tuck into a straight-over flip.

Let’s watch that again. Right arm up... left arm up... left arm starts with one-quarter of a backstroke pull, then finishes with three-quarters of a freestyle pull... then tuck into the flip with both hands at your sides.

When you can do a three-stroke crossover on one side...

... try a three-stroke crossover on the other side. Kick away from the wall... left arm comes up first... then right arm... then right arm starts with one-quarter of a backstroke pull and finishes with three-quarters of a freestyle pull. The swimmer tucks into a straight-over flip with both hands at the sides.

A variation of the three-stroke crossover is to start with one arm extended.

Pull right... roll and pull left... cross over and pull right with a 100-percent freestyle pull.

On the other side this looks like pull left... roll and pull right... cross over and pull left with a 100-percent freestyle pull.

A third variation is to start in streamline. Pull right... roll and pull left... cross over and pull right with a 100-percent freestyle pull.

Step #3: Swim, Cross Over, and Flip at Mid Pool
In Step #3, we’re still practicing the flip in the middle of the pool.

Push off and swim 5 to 7 strokes of backstroke, then do a cross over into head-lead position, submerge, flip, and position your hands and body for an imaginary push-off.

Then, extend your legs and arms simultaneously into underwater streamline.

Let’s see it one more time. Five to seven strokes... cross over into head-lead... flip... check your push-off position... then extend into streamline.

Step #4: Using the Flags
Through practice and trial and error, you can determine how many strokes you take between the flags and the point where you begin to rotate toward your stomach.

In the learning stage, start with just two strokes from the flags. As your eyes pass under the flags, the next hand hit is #1 and you take a backstroke pull. The next hand hit is #2 and you’ve already started to rotate. This pull is one-quarter backstroke and three-quarters freestyle, and you submerge and tuck before you get to the wall.

This time, take three strokes from the flags. Hand hit #1 is backstroke. Hand hit #2 is backstroke. Hand hit #3 is the crossover. If your feet hit the wall after the flip, three strokes from the flags is a good count for you.

If your feet don’t hit the wall, try four strokes next time.

Step #5: Completing the Turn
Take your last stroke into the wall, then submerge. Spot the wall by watching the “T”... or the bottom edge of the pool... or the lowest row of tiles on the foot ledge.

When the hands reach your sides, flip immediately. Roll directly into the flip, without a big dolphin kick and without rising up with your shoulders.

Slide your arms down the legs toward your knees and use your palms to “push the hat back” as your legs come out of the water and to the wall.

Push off and extend into streamline as your feet leave the wall.

Step #6: The Push-Off and Underwater Dolphin
Push off in a slight downward direction to glide under the surface turbulence and to keep your body deeper during the dolphin kick.

Glide in a tight streamline until you slow to underwater dolphin speed. Then, depending on your ability and training, take two to eleven quick underwater dolphin kicks before transitioning to flutter kick and the breakout.

Step #7: The Breakout
For the most effective breakout, start your first arm stroke while still under water.

Here the swimmer transitions from dolphin to flutter, starts the first stroke while rising, and starts the second stroke just before the face breaks the surface.

Use the first and second strokes to help

Maintain the momentum of the push-off and underwater kicks. Proper timing leads to an aggressive breakout and sets you up for a fast length of backstroke.