The Principle of the Flip Turn

Having trained for triathlons, much of my training for open water swims has been in a traditional 25 or 50 meter pool. Since competitive swimming wasn’t something I had done previously I never mastered the infamous flip turn that so often we see competitive swimmers complete. After attending a masters class, I was finally convinced to attempt and change my style of turn on these occasions. The uncomfort of water up the nose, burning lungs and disoriented push offs were powerful influences to stop and revert back to my previous style of touch turn which allowed me to stop, catch my breath and push off again. As hard as the learning curve seemed to be I knew I needed to gain a rhythm of my motion. Keeping my momentum and cadence would save needed energy and allow me to reach my distance goals easier. Patience during the transition allowed me to persevere. The end result was positive and the benefits of being more efficient and keeping momentum did in fact save energy and allowed me to swim longer distances easier during events.   

With the New Year I have been contemplating the principle of the flip turn and the similarities in our own lives. What happens when we get to the “wall” of our own goals and desires in life. Do we stop to take a breathe and lose momentum in the process?  Do we lack the energy to restart which inevitably distances ourselves from our own success? Do we find it hard to start again and needlessly reset the progression each time we decide to do so?

It’s all about momentum. If we become unfocused and our progression towards our goals stalls or even terminates, we exert more energy in starting again. Energy is a resource and the more I’m pulled in different directions (which this life tends to do to all of us), the more energy I desire to have. Movement conserves energy, both physical and mental. It’s hard to start and stop and each time we do the energy required to do so may handicap our desire to gain momentum again.  

In the midst of achieving our ambition, we can slow to take a breathe but we can’t lose momentum. We must take advantage of Newton’s first law of motion that an object in motion stays in motion. When we our advancing in some way or another we are moving closer to our goals and inevitably with time we will reach our hearts’ desire. When we stop and our energy and motivations dwindle, it becomes harder and harder to start again.  

Martin Luther King said it well, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Any momentum forward will save us energy. Our focus needs to be on our destination and to endure through the outside influences that tempt us to stop. Keep focused and find your rhythm to your own success.  

And if you do stop, it’s never too late to start again. Just keep the momentum moving forward.    

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