Ryan Lochte’s Deep Fly-Kick Freestyle Turn

We were experimenting with Ryan Lochte’s deep fly kick freestyle turn. It was a tricky as none of the swimmers had seen it and I could only describe what to do; hence the reason for this post. There is another video where Ryan goes into the explanation of the technique. Ryan’s turn though takes the commonly used underwater fly kick that attributed to David Berkoff (The Berkoff Blastoff!) and simply adds it to the turn. I’m not sure of the latest rules but just like limiting the underwater kick in backstroke I understand there are some rule changes as far as IM goes and “freestyle” is no longer ‘freestyle’  :-). In other words IM is limiting use of this turn.

For our purposes it’s not so much about the turn but just one of so many ways to shake up your drills and your workout, explore swimming and your stroke, and gain general skill and confidence.

It’s really tough to hold your breath this long so a few things you an try:

Key Points:

  • Excellent Torpedo!
    • As my associates know the perfect torpedo position is the fundamental of swimming. (Read my thoughts on it here.) Nailing the correct streamline positions will help with this technique, but really it’s also the most important basic skill you can learn as a swimmer.
    • It’s free speed; so learn the Torpedo! Do it today, do it tomorrow, do it for life!
  • Holding your breath on your back.
    • Don’t attempt the drill until you can you have this basic water confidence and can also do a convention push off on your back.
    • There essentially ways you can hold your breath on your back.
      • Slowly breathe out so water does not run up your nose! Unfortunately by the time you flip turn and start breathing out with enough force to stop the water coming up your nose you will quickly run out of air!
      • A better approach is to let the water run up your nose! Don’t breath it in of course! You just let the water up your nose and burn your sinuses, holding it back at your throat.
        • This is less than ideal if you have sensitive sinuses. And it will sting! But you can easily get used to it. It has me sounding like I’m stuffed up with a cold for a while after, but it does work.
      • The best approach is to breath out a little bit and stop, holding the air in your nose. This is a bit tricky to master but you can do it. Properly done the water does not run up past your sinuses and you don’t have snorkel-clear it when you break the surface to breath.
      • A forth way is to use a nose clip, but I’d highly recommend not becoming reliant on that. So don’t bother!
    • Another great way of getting some distance on the turn is to take three quick breathes before you flip, left right left (or right left right), as Sun Yang does to gain extra air on every lap of his 1500m. You can use this with a conventional flip turn too, and take three breathes coming out of the turn too.
    • Hypoxic training (limiting air; breathing every 5/7/9) may be effective but I think it’s mostly pointless and dangerous. Just get used to long distance torpedoes and holding your breath until you want to breathe. Don’t overdo and don’t put yourself into constant oxygen debt. If you get headaches training hypoxic, (as many do), back off. I reckon it’s your brain cells dying!
  • A great way to get more efficient with fly kick, and to really feel and explore your efficiency, is vertical kicking. I’ll save vertical kicking for another post, but basically just just tread water but with a fly kick technique rather than egg-beating your legs.
  • Experiment with distance, when you break surface, and when yo switch to front crawl kck
  • Another drill we do is the Torpedo push off on your front with a full 360 spin. Try it both ways to help gain confidence.


  • For many the fly kick on the back is really rally fast. There are even some individuals who will go faster over a 50 using this technique instead of front crawl. There’s a good chance, like Rayan, you’ll gain ground (water)!
  • Yes it burns holding your breathe and can leave you in more oxygen debt than a conventional turn. But at the same time every yard you go is one less front crawl stroke you are taking, so the burn is coming from your legs and not your arms (which you are in effect saving for the swim).
  • Many of us know, especially open water swimmers and triathletes, how much drag effect you get from the swimmers next to and in front of you. In that same way every swimmer creates current and turbulence coming into the wall. Pushing off directly into that current and turbulence slows you down. Ryan’s technique allows you to go deeper and clear the most forceful part of the current you’ve created. The bigger and faster you are the more current you create; thus the more ideal to avoid.
  • This idea also suggests for conventional flip turns you may be better off approaching and turning at a slight angle, like a minid version of training lane rotation, just so you don’t directly push off into your own current.


  • You have to nail the technique or you’ll have problems.
    • Tool shallow and no advantage.
    • Too deep and you miss-time surfacing into the stroke easily losing time and oxygen.
  • Oxygen debt!

Give it a go and let us know what you think!

Swimming Drill – Ryan’s Lochte’s Freeystyle Turn


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