5 Tricks for a Faster Swim Start

Michael Butler
Written by
Last update:

Time the starter’s gun in the races leading up to yours.

If you race regularly, you know that the starting procedure can be a little chaotic. “Go, go, go” can be the only cue you get for a start. And it is hard to judge the pace of the impending start if you’re not used to being around those who are on the starting block with you. You might find yourself off to a slower start than you would have liked.

Your best bet is to practice the 29 strokes that you’ll do in the 100-meter race. Start practicing the off-the-starts by pacing yourself the way you will during the race. Identify the one- or two-stroke rhythm you need for the perfect start. For example, don’t start up too soon.

After you complete the 100-meter race, time your start. It doesn’t hurt to practice until you can approximate the time it took you to make your first turn.

Don’t start too soon. It’s crucial that you get the timing right. Swim in place to get accustomed to the length of the starting block. You will not be judging your speed correctly if you start too early.

And by racing in a timed event, you can track your progress.

Hula hoop your way to cleaner entries.

Hula hooping is your friend. Practicing your timing can be a lot of fun with a hula hoop. All it takes to do this is a hula hoop and a wall.

Stand at a normal arm’s length distance from the wall, with your hula hoop in front of you. As you start to practice your hula hoop timing, you’ll notice that the time between jumps will be similar each time. Every time, you’ll either have a triple-jump (1+1+1 =3) or two consecutive one-jumps (1+1=2).

It’s important that you don’t just jump up and down and get as many acrobatic-style one-jumps as you can. Aim for a two-jump rhythm. If you’re doing it right, two consecutive one-jumps after a catch will equal a solid two-second rhythm in the water.

Count how long it takes you to perform the jump from wall to wall in one jump. Then call it a one or a two-jumper. Keep trying to repeat this rhythm.

Elbows should be pointed back, not out.

Toe crunch your way to a better foot grip.

Many of us have one foot that’s a tiny bit shorter than the other and that is usually on the same side as our dominant hand. Toe crunching, or adding a heel lift to the shorter side, allows you to find the most comfortable foot position. This lets you rotate your hips forward to prepare for a faster swim start.

Keep your lungs full before you dive in.

Most people rush into the water or jump in and inhale a giant breath. It’s just as important to take a long, slow exhale before you start your sprint.

Bearing down and tightening your stomach (“pooch crunch”) will give you a better sprint posture and keep you streamlined. It will also help you hold more air in your lungs.

Stagger your arms.

By leading with one arm, then the other, you get a push-pull pull-push action. This makes you more streamlined and increases your chances of getting a fast start.

With the right tool, you can make sure that you get a vigorous workout every time you train. It’s important to know the details of your workout so that you can reach your workout goals.

Wrap your thumbs under the block.

This allows you to hold the block in a closed grip and to move your thumb into the correct position.

If you try to hold the block with an open or loose grip, it will slide between your fingers and you’ll have no control over it.

See Also:

More often than not, a good swim will involve a good start. The direction you set from the start will set your tempo for the rest of the race. Here are some tips to help you achieve this.

Slow down for the start: although it’s tempting to go from zero to sixty in the first stroke of the race, consider slowing yourself down a bit. This will give you a more efficient start and will also allow you to conserve energy for the race ahead.

Although a slow start may not be as visually appealing, it’s a calculated effort that will lead to better swimming in the middle and the end. The more streamlined you look, the more energy you save.

Explode at the wall: once you’re at the start, resist the temptation to lead from the front. It’s okay to be near the front, but don’t try to take the lead. After the start, be patient and try to reserve as much as energy as possible. Only after the first turn, do you deploy your speed and capitalize on the energy conserved in the previous lap.