Too often these days I see swimmers, at the start of a race, reach down and grab the block only to just let go at the beep. Unless you’re a penguin who have arms(wings) that are too short arms need to be used to help propel you forward. To make best use of your arms in the start you must prepare at the “take-your-mark”. Come down, and not only grab the block, but tighten your muscles, ready to push off the block. At the beep, push back against the block as you also push off with your legs. When you can no longer reach the block throw your hands forward. Your hands will not have enough time to get above your head, luckily that is a good thing. Don’t throw your hands over your head, let your head come down to you. The pictures below demonstrate the first moments after a dive.
Use this link to see an excellent photo of a start where the arms are behind the swimmer as they leave block. Each swimmer has used the arms to push off of the block and will then swing the arms forward:
If you don’t use your arms to push off the block you are leaving some speed behind.
Up Next: Swimming a workout? Why it is so critical to remember the water bottle.
photo by Ian Parker