Swimming Start Technique: How to Do It Right


Executing the right start when swimming will significantly affect your overall swim, as well as result. Just like any other timed event, especially swimming races, the starting point is basically a very important factor to get the results you want in a race. This fact is also true, especially if take into consideration the very start of a sprinting event. After all, a slow and poor start would only cost the triumph for a swimmer like you.

Unlike track and field, swimming affects the continuity of the race dramatically, as there exists a change in elements, say air then water. To add, the swimming start can either make or break the result of a race, especially in a sprint event. If you are curious about how to perform an effective swimming start technique, then keep on reading this post.

Four Phases of Swimming Start

While it may seem like swimmers are simply throwing themselves onto the water, the swim start technique can be split into these four phases, which include block, fight, entry, and underwater. Understanding and finding a connection with each of the phases is key. Now, let’s discuss what these phases are.

  • Block Phase: Also referred to as the ‘reaction time’, the block phase is the moment between the starting signal and your feet while they leave the blocks. 
  • Flight Phase:The flight phase is the moment your feet go off the block and your hands enter the water. This, in fact, is the air component of the swim start before you actually enter the water.  
  • Entry Phase: The entry phase is between your hands entering and your feet going into the water. To make things a bit clear, it is like how your body cuts the water. This is also a very crucial phase in the swim start, as every angle would play a very important role in the speed, not only when you enter the water, but the way you carry the momentum while you proceed to the final phase.
  • Underwater Phase: The final phase, or the underwater phase, is the time you spend underwater. This is probably the most examined phase in the swimming start technique, as well as the most controlled and the most crucial. The reason is that you convert the speed you get from the drive while you carry it with every stroke.

The Tricks for A Great Swimming Start Technique

The logic behind having a great swim start is as basic as this: you would want to carry an extraordinary amount of speed when you get into the water. Then, through the breakout, this speed turns into an exploding amount to be able to keep up with the swimming portion of the race. Here are five simple tricks to improve your swim start technique.

Time the starter gun

While waiting for the race to start, simulate the start while you are on dry land. Once the starter announces “take your marks”, you need to crouch over while doing the start position. Then, explode up into the air using your arms above your head once the signal to start goes off. This trick is very helpful, as you will not only anticipate the start while in the ready position, but it also keeps you alert and the subsequent explosiveness of the action will help you prime your body faster for the swimming itself.

Imagine you are hula hooping for a cleaner entry phase

When you leave the blocks, you certainly would want to dive cleanly and crisply into the water. It may help you a lot if you think of a 10m diver that slips into the water, without the attention-seeking splash, with the entry as clean and tight as possible. While it may be easy and simple to visualize it, it may be a little harder than you think. To ensure that you are entering perfectly, try setting up a hula hoop in the water and work your way on diving crisply into it. With this trick, you also have the option to have a friend hold the hula hoop for you.

Your elbows must be pointed back, instead of out

Even if your legs get the attention every start of the race, you must also give attention to your elbows. Oftentimes, swimmers neglect the velocity, as well as the pulling motion, which is generated by pulling in a forward position. To get the most of this, you surely would want to get your elbows pointed backward, rather than outward. Not doing so would only leak power to your sides, instead of pulling yourself forward.

Toe crunching helps a lot

Normally, your toes curl up around the lip of the dry space of the block. In addition, your toes are likely to be gripping it as well. This may be unusual to do on another circumstance apart from when you are doing a swimming start technique, right? While it may potentially lead to shaky foot grips, as well as the loss of torque using your front foot, it may leave you relying exclusively on your back arms and leg to power your start when you leave the block.

There are tricks that will help you have a better grip and improve your grip strength. First, lay your toes flat and try curling them to your heel. It may help you if you visualize yourself when you pull the carpet or floor back and then underneath you. This extremely simple technique allows you to grip the more with more power, resulting in a launch with more velocity. In addition to that, you may do a few sets, around 20 in a day, and you will find that your toes now have a better grip onto the block.

Try wrapping your thumbs under the block

Probably the quickest way to improve your swimming star is to focus on pulling more using your arms when you leave the block. To get the most out of it, simply wrap both of your thumbs around the block. Doing so will also allow you to take advantage of the pulling motion. You may notice a lot of swimmers who wrap their thumbs above the block. However, this may not work well for you. Following the proper way will provide you with more surface area, especially on the bottom side of the block.


While you would not learn these techniques inside the gym, it would be of great help if you practice these drills when you have the chance. These skills will increase your knowledge of the several elements of the swimming start, allowing you to transform the pulling motion and speed on to the block. We do recommend that you put these new learning by testing them out in the pool.

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