Question: "Coach Marli, which start should I do? The throw and go, butterfly, chicken wing, or sling shot?"
Answer: "Incorporate components of each start that work best for YOU. It is also just as important to perfect the routine that surrounds your start."
* PRE-RACE ROUTINE * READY POSITION ON THE BLOCKS
* TAKE YOUR MARK SET UP * EXPLODING OFF THE BLOCKS
* ENTRY INTO THE WATER
There are many different ways to perform starts depending on age, development, and athleticism. Starts are unique to each swimmer. The videos below show one of my young swimmers demonstrating her perception of four different starts. We are working on using elements from each to give her the best entry into and through the water.
- focus on your upcoming event
- refrain from chatting with friends once behind the block
- increase your heart rate (knee tucks, jumping jacks, etc.)
- take some calming, deep breaths
- smile (endorphins!)
- dry your feet and the block with a towel to prevent slipping
Ready Position On the Blocks:
- stand with feet hip distance apart
- anchor dominant big toe
- slide your back foot straight back (feet remain hip distance apart or about 2 hand prints)
- keep hip, knee and ankle aligned
- toes are directed forward, back heel up
- hips stay high
- fold over in relaxed hanging position while you wait (no pressure on thighs)
Take Your Mark Set Up:
- grasp the block keeping thumbs forward
- elbows are fairly straight (depending on your flexibility) and relaxed
- keep neck relaxed with a neutral head and spine alignment
- distribute weight mostly on front leg, lean back 5 degrees or less
- push your body forward with hands pushing back toward block and then get them in streamline as quickly as possible
- push with your back foot and kick it toward streamline
- thrust front leg up to meet the back one in the air
- hands enter first, feet enter last
- squeeze body into the tightest, squeezed streamLINE possible
- point toes, press ankles and thighs together aiming for a straight-lined entry
- enter at about 30 degrees and work your way to a horizontal body position to surface in line
Below is one of our older swimmers putting it all together for a beautiful start. She continues to work on it and tweak it regularly.
A special thank you to Mac Spurrier for demonstrating the four starts and Morgan Carteaux for the slow motion video.