Triathletes are SO willing to equip themselves with gear to make their lives easier and to make them better cyclists. The list could go on and on and on and on ad nausea. Yet, so many are against the flip turn.
What is it about flip turns that make triathletes so scared and pathetic? Is it because it takes a while to learn? Well, you learned to use clipless pedals on your road bike (making you a better, more efficient cyclist). You learned to use aero bars (making you a better, more efficient cyclist). You learned how to use EZ-laces for your race shoes (making you a better, more efficient transition-er and runner). You learned how to do a flying dismount/mount (making you a better, more efficient transition-er). You learned, or tried to learn, correct run form (which took a very long time and hopefully made you a better, more efficient runner). You practiced the high elbow catch (making you a better, more efficient swimmer). Yet, you refuse to learn the flip turn.
"But there are no flip turns in open water swimming!"
Please. Come up with something better than that. This is a pathetic excuse. There are also no store stops in triathlon racing. Yet you do it in training. There's no drafting on the bike in racing. But you all love to draft in training. There are no pull buoys in racing, but you certainly are addicted to it like it was cocaine in training. Gimme something better than that; it holds no water with me.
"What's the point, I'll just be a little bit faster in the pool; there's no translation to racing."
Waitwaitwait. Did you say: "I'll just be faster in the pool?" I didn't listen to the rest of that because this is the important part. So, you'll be faster in the pool. That SHOULD end the story right there, yet triathletes love to say the rest of that sentence over and over again. To swim fast in the open water (racing), you (presumably) need to swim fast in training. Don't use "I don't flip" as an excuse because I beat you by 5s in that 200yd interval. Learn how to flip turn, keep up with me, and then you'll truly have discovered why swimming with friends is so awesome.
"I get water up my nose."
Exhale when you're upside down, idiot.
"It's taking too long to learn how to do it properly"
The ULTIMATE issue with triathletes is that they have NO patience. There's always got to be a short cut for something. Oh, you didn't get faster in the 3 weeks you did masters swimming? Aww, too bad. HTFU and do it for a year. Wow, you didn't improve your FTP by 50% after 3 months of indoor computrainer classes? Whoaaaaa that's crazy. You mean those new shoes didn't cut 10s/mile off your half-ironman run time?! Jeez, that's too bad!
Endurance sports are great because they are an exercise in progressive overload, patience, and consistency. Everyone can get to a high level. Everyone. That is my strong belief. It may take some longer than others, but if you have the PATIENCE you can do whatever you want. The problem with that is the word patience. It seems like so many triathletes have a 3-4 year life span. They get to be pretty good, or they get to a point where the next step is going to take a while and then that's it, they're done. I can think of countless examples of this locally. Everything worth doing takes time. I didn't start flip-turning until late 2010. I was scared, it was tough, I felt like I was dying every time I came up for air off a wall. I distinctly remember Scott and I doing one of his training swims for Louisville that year at the Aquatic Center (set up LCM). It was to be a 4000 continuous swim (shoot me). My goal was simply to swim in his draft as long as possible. We flip-turned the first 5-10 turns and that was it. Open turns the rest of the way. Eventually we both mustered up the courage to truly learn the proper flip turn and we are consequently both better swimmers because of that. It took time, it took feeling very silly (like pushing off after a flip and ending up at the bottom of the pool, or in the adjacent lane, or like a breaching whale), it took committing to sucking at something for a while.
Ultimately, if you're willing to do all the things cyclists do to become a better rider; you're willing to go through all sorts of weird stuff to become a better runner; why not approach swimming the same way? To be good, swim with and like the swimmers, bike with and like the bikers, and run with and like the runners. Not hard.