There are different ways to perform relay starts.  One method is described below. 

Body Position:

  • Feet should be in track start position or shoulder width apart with toes over the edge.
  • Lean forward slightly.  If comfortable, position back parallel with the surface of the water.
  • Arms are outstretched at about 45 degrees.
  • Knees should be bent slightly.
Arm Movements:
  • Hands and eyes follow the incoming swimmer, lowering as the swimmer approaches the wall.  
  • When the incoming swimmer takes the last arm pull, the swimmer on the block lifts arms up toward ceiling, back, and SWINGS them around very quickly, throwing the swimmer out and in the water for a RACE DIVE.
Watch the video below.  Some swimmers perform the relay start correctly.  Some do not.  Almost all of them can improve the speed at which they swing their arms and leave the block.    

The arm swing is easy to practice on land and even fun in front of a mirror.  Give it a try before your next practice.  Good luck!