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Track Start

This is an excerpt from Swimming: Steps to Success by Scott Bay.

Figure 8.4 Track Start


  1. Stand at the front edge of the block with one foot forward and the toes curled over the edge.
  2. Place your other foot at the back of the block.
  3. Bend at your waist and bend your knees slightly to assume almost a crouched position.
  4. Grab the front edge of the block with both hands.
  5. Very important: Keep your neck loose and look down or only slightly forward. Keep your center of gravity comfortably over the center of the block, between your forward foot and your back foot.


  1. At the start command, initiate the start by pulling forward with your hands while simultaneously driving forward with your upper body.
  2. Lift your head slightly to spot the water and the point at which you hope to enter.
  3. At the same time, bring your hands forward toward the streamlined position.
  4. Then tuck your chin to your chest in the streamlined position.


  1. As your hands enter the water, begin to straighten your body so that it goes into the same hole in the water that your hands entered.
  2. As your body passes through the surface of the water, arch your back slightly to control the depth of the dive.


  1. Push your chin forward slightly to adjust the depth and bring you to the surface for swimming as you streamline and perform the appropriate kick for the chosen stroke.


You look up, lose your balance, and fall in.


Keep your neck loose; looking at the end of the pool constricts blood vessels in the neck.


You rock back too far and sit on your back leg.


Having the hips slightly forward or back is common and often merely a matter of preference. However, a knee bend of more than 90 degrees does not allow for a good push. Move your hips forward.


Your front leg is straight and locked out.


Make sure that you bend your knee so that you have some way of pushing off of the block with your lead leg rather than just your foot.

Drills for the Track Start

The next few drills focus on connecting all of the skills of the set, push, entry, and breakout streamline into one integrated skill.

Track Start Drill 1: 15-Meter

Though not really a drill, this exercise enables you to determine which start is best for you. Try the grab start and record your time at 15 yards. Do the same for the track start with each leg serving as the forward leg. Do this sequence several times to determine which type of start is best for you.

In competition pools, the 15-yard mark is signified by an off-color (e.g., red or yellow) disk as part of the lane line. If the pool does not have such a mark, you can use any measured distance beyond 10 yards.

Track Start Drill 2: Standing Jump

This drill isolates the push portion of the start. From the take-your-mark position, push forward as forcefully as possible to get as much forward velocity as you can. Then pull your feet up to enter the water feetfirst. Practice this drill several times to see how far down the pool you can get.

To Increase Difficulty

  • Place a marker (e.g., a diving brick) on the bottom of the pool as a target and try to hit the spot in the water directly above it.

To Decrease Difficulty

  • Start from the deck and just do the drill as a standing broad jump.
  • Start from the deck in the set position.

Success Check

  • You can hold yourself steady in the set position.
  • You can enter the water at least 4 feet (1.2 m) away from the block.
  • You can hit a target in the water after spotting it.

Score Your Success

  • 1 point: You can do the drill from the deck and get at least a yard from the wall.
  • 3 points: You can do the drill and get at least 4 feet (1.2 m) from the wall.
  • 5 points: You can do the drill and hit a designated target at least 4 feet (1.2 m) from the wall.

Learn more about Swimming: Steps to Success.

More Excerpts From Swimming: Steps to Success