A faster swim start can lead to a faster time and ultimately to winning races. Staring out with a fast and strong dive off the block is an essential part of any swimming race.
Explosiveness For Your Swim Start
The more explosive you start off of the block, the farther you are able to push yourself forward and gain momentum for your swim. You should position yourself to have a great stance on the blocks so that you will be ready when the gun goes off to expeditiously dive off the starting blocks. Different swimming pools will have different types of starting blocks, so during your warm-up, make sure you familiarize yourself with the feel of it. Slightly lean back and grip the edge of the block using your toes, so you have added power and better support. One often overlooked aspect is toe strength for the block. To work on toe strength, use toe crunches. Lay the toes flat and then curl them toward the heels. Imagine yourself pulling the carpet or floor back toward you. Toe crunches are a simple exercise you can do anytime to help improve your position and swim start explosiveness. Use your arms and engage your core with your jump to have more explosiveness. The goal is to hit the water faster and farther from the start. You can strengthen your swim starts on land with exercises such as burpees, horizontal long jumps, and vertical squat jumps. Use the kickboard drill to work on this. Have someone stand behind you and swing a kickboard toward you when the starting gun goes off. You want to be off the block before the board can touch any part of your body. This will help with your reaction time.
Cleaner Entry For Your Swim Start
Actively using your core and arms with your start will give you more power and put your arms in a more streamlined position to keep your center and improve speed. The proper position is necessary to be aerodynamic and have a clean entry into the water. Your elbows should be pointed back and not to the side. If your elbows are pointed out to the side, you are leaking power to the sides and are not focused on pulling yourself forward off the block. When you have a clean entry, you will generate a minimal splash, and it minimizes drag. One of the best ways to practice a clean entry is by using a hula hoop. Have someone hold a hula hoop in the water where you are trying to enter. The goal is to get through the hula hoop but not touch the sides. This will help you keep a solid line into the water. You can also use a pool noodle set at a distance that you would like to clear off the block to help you get further off the block.
A Tip For Improving Your Swim Start
One quick way you can improve your swim start is by focusing on pulling more with your arms on the block. To get the most out of this, you want to wrap the thumbs around the block. Many swimmers keep their thumbs above the block when instead they should be wrapped under. Wrapping your thumbs will give you more surface area on the bottom side of the starting block. More surface area means you have a more powerful pull.
Optimize Your Swim Start
Once you have entered the water, you want to bring as much speed as you can from the dive to have a powerful breakout. This is why the dive off of the starting block is important. Staying too far below or high on the surface is inefficient. Maintain a straight streamline and know exactly where you are in the water so that you can get your first stroke right.
The Right Equipment Helps Your Swim Starts
You can’t get faster at any part of swimming if you don’t have the right equipment. While having the right swim cap, prescription swim goggles, or swimming suit isn’t just related to starts, choosing the right pieces for your needs can significantly improve your times. Prescription swim goggles can help you have better focus and see the water clearly so you can pay attention to your starts, as well as your swim. Make sure your swim goggles, swim cap, and suit give off the least amount of drag so all the work you do to work on your start doesn’t go to waste, and you enter the water cleanly.