Grab Start


At a swim meet, swimmers most often start on a block. If you don't have a starting block at your disposal, the same techniques can be used to dive in from the edge of the pool. All events start outside of the water except for backstroke events.

For standard (non-backstroke) starts, there are two basic options: the grab start and the block start.

The Grab Start

Place both feet, shoulder-width apart, at the very front of the block, so that both of your big toes grip over the edge of the block slightly. When the starter says, "Take your mark," bend forward, relaxing your knees, and grip the front of the block with both hands. Pull yourself far enough forward and down so that your elbows are bent and relaxed. When the buzzer (or starting gun, whistle or simply the spoken word "go," depending upon the setting) sounds, extend your arms forward into streamline position letting your body fall forward slightly before propelling yourself upward and outward with your legs.

The Track Start

This start is preferred by most competitive swimmers, but it differs very little from the grab start. The only change is, instead of lining both feet up at the front, place one toward the back of the block (not so far that your heel hangs off the back). Which leg is back and its exact positioning can be changed for comfort and ease of movement.

Backstroke Start from Andrea Morgan on Vimeo

This is video shows the backstroke start. For a video of the full stroke go to the backstroke page.

The Backstroke Start

Jump feet-first into the water. Grab unto the bar on the block, or put your hands in the gutter or edge of the pool. Plant your feet as high up on the wall as is comfortable, shoulder-width apart.

When the starter says, "Take your mark," pull your body up so that your shoulders and most of your back are out of the water. On "go," throw your arms back in streamline position, and push back with your legs. Arch your back, and enter the water at a slight downward angle.