How to do a relay start. For competitive swimming

Doing good relay starts can give your team a big advantage.

The relay start is all about timing and momentum.

To make it simple let's divide it in three parts.

1- The follow 2- The arms 3- The legs

The first part is following the other swimmer with your arms. Here you try to get a feel

for when your teammate will get to the wall. You follow their head with your fingers pointing

at them. Before they take their last stroke you should have already started the movement

of the arms and legs. It is better if you have already practice the relay start at full

speed with your teammate. Specially if they are swimming backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly.

Freestyle is a more constant and fast stroke so there are no big surprises like in the

other strokes.

Once you decide to go, when the swimmer in the water is about half a second away from

the wall, you need to start the second phase. The second phase consists of moving the arms

and legs simultaneously. The arms do a circle. This will give you speed in the movement and

help you carry more momentum off the blocks. Once the circle is done, the arms go straight

into a streamline.

Part 3 are the legs. Both legs should do a step forward. One before the other one. You

can also have one leg already on the edge and the other one behind. The legs should

both be ready to jump when the arms are passing the knees.

To practice coordinating the arms and the legs, you can do it on land. Create a mental

image of the blocks and practice there.

By the time your body is straight while the feet are still touching the blocks, that's

when the swimmer in the water should have just touched the wall. A good relay start

should be around .10 to .20 reaction time. Any more than that is playing it safe but

losing some precious time. Any less than that is risking it too close.

This takes a lot of collaborative practice to master. The more time you spend with it,

the more confident the whole relay will be and the faster you'll be.

To practice at full speed the swimmer in the water may use fins and swim about 10 meters


This is by far the fastest start in swimming, but individually your time will not be official,

so make sure to have fun doing it and practice hard. Your teammates will appreciate it.

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Thanks for watching! Swim fast!