Many athletes see learning to tumble turn in the pool as a waste of time as there are no turns in an open water swim. The reason to tumble turn is not about speed, pace or achieving a better pool swim time. It is about developing good breath techniques necessary for a sustained open water swim. My view is that the shorter the pool the more reason to tumble.
When tumbling the swim dynamic changes. Using a traditional turn a swimmer usually gets the opportunity to take an extra breath or two at the wall. This sets up a situation where the swimmer gets oxygen positive at the wall, then moves into oxygen deficiency while swimming up the pool, then needing that breath on the next turn to get oxygen positive. This scenario creates a habit of swimming slightly above the swimmer’s oxygen efficiency. Triathletes who train like this commonly have difficulty adjusting to open water and find themselves hypoxic in the early stages of a race, having to significantly adjust intensity to recover.
When tumbling the swimmer loses the opportunity for the extra breath at the wall, and if done properly will lose 2 breaths by completing a full stroke after he turn before taking a breath. This sets up a scenario when the swimmer gets oxygen deficit at the wall and the needs oxygen recovery during the lap. This is a far more beneficial from an adaptation perspective.
To learn how to tumble turn usually takes two 30 minute sessions after which the swimmer would be able to safely tumble with a few mistakes out of squad sessions. A couple of weeks of committing to tumbling every turn and will be good to tumble at squad. Yes, you may feel silly making a few bad turns, but that’s the learning process. Hey, if babies had ego they would not learn to walk and we would all be shuffling around on out bottoms!
If you can’t tumble my strong recommendation is to hit up your swim coach for a tumble session. There are minutes off your open water swim time right there!