Starts (non-backstroke)

The start is a vital part of any swim event, especially for you sprinters.  If you can get good at your start, it'll be like having a head start on every race.  Here we briefly look at the non-backstroke start.

The key elements that make up the start are:

The Setup.  Before you even get on the block, you will need to choose the type of start you are going to do.  For a track start, you will put one leg back, and the other up front with toes curled around the front edge of the block.  Space your legs in a way that feels comfortable and a way that will maximize your starting ability.  For a standard start, both legs and feet will be up front with all 10 toes curled around the block's edge.  Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.  When the starter says, "take your marks", you will bend your knees, bend your body over and grasp the edge of the block with both hands.  Your weight should be balanced with a slight lean forward.  Your head should tuck down.

The Start.  Once the gun goes of, you are  going to lift your head and bring your arms up in front of your body.  For most swimmers, your natural instincts will take over.  But you should be sure to get up and out as far as you can.  Your legs will need to come together, your head should drop, your arms and hands should become streamlined, and you should point your toes, all before entry.  Gotta make it fast and look pretty ya know!  Your goal is not to enter too flat and not too deep.  Watch other good swimmers and practice, practice, practice.  Your body will get the feel for it.

The Streamline.  After you make your unbelievable entry into the water and get a little glide in, you should be streamlined and kicking like a mad person!  Your goal is to make yourself into a torpedo that will shoot through the water with the least amount of resistance.  

The Breakout.  When you are ready to emerge, pull like crazy with your lead arm and pop your head up out of the drink (some say to actually lift it out of the water so you can see all the way to the other side of the pool).  The theory is that if you get your body up out of the water, you will plane into a better, faster swimming position.  That means that you should be pulling and kicking like a mad person as you break the surface!  Also, do not breath during your first couple strokes!

Check out the video below to see some decent starts.  Use the controls to see how each swimmer approaches each step differently.  Keep in mind that these guys are at the high school level.  Division I college starts are even prettier.

Video Clip

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Starts  560 Kb