Dives can make or break the race. The dive gives you the initial speed to your race. OFF OF THE DIVE IS THE FASTEST YOU WILL BE IN THAT RACE! To have a good dive, you need to have the right start position, the correct muscle chain engagement, the right height, the right angle and the most perfect streamline ever.
I will be walking you through how I train my swimmers with the dive. Since most all blocks have the back foot Wedge, I will be focusing on starting with that.
Take Your Mark
The start position is almost as important as what happens as what happens after the beep. If you are not in the right position, the dive will be messy, delayed and slow. Here are all of the things I look for in the start position.
Back foot position: For the setting of the back wedge, it should be at a position that the hips do not turn outward when the foot is at or near the top of the wedge and in line with the hips. This requires some trial and error to narrow in. If the back foot is too far back the swimmer will not get maximum speed and may ‘fishtail’ into the water. If the foot is too close to the front leg, the swimmer will be slightly delayed in getting off the block. It is VERY important to give your swimmers the opportunity to practice with the back foot wedge. If you do not have one on the blocks at the pool you practice in. I HIGHLY recommend ordering one. Ours is easily added onto any block and is reasonably priced. Track Start.
Front foot position: Toes should be wrapped over the edge. The foot should be straight and in line with the hips.
Arm position: The elbows should be slightly bent back next to the ribs. The hands should be grabbing the front of the block straight under the shoulders. Make sure the thumbs are forward and not on top of the block.
Back position: The back at ‘take your mark’ should be flexed and straight. The back should be in a position ready for the muscles to engage at the beep.
Head position: The head should be in a neutral position. Eyes looking at the toes of the front foot.
After the BEEP
At the beep everything happens very fast. First, the arms engage. The arms have to push the block back. This gets the legs in the perfect position to get maximum muscle engagement. Next, the Back Foot engages. While the back foot is engaging, the head is thrown up to look at the Backstroke Flags. The back foot pushes until the last toe pushes off the block. Now, the front foot is pushing. With the toes curled over the edge, this allows the big toe to contribute to the power. As this happens, the arms swing back around to finish the dive in streamline. With the arms coming around, the head finishes into that perfect streamline position.
Like everything, this takes time and dedication to achieve a great start. Dives are something that needs to be worked on every practice. At every practice, try to do some races for time from a start. If your practice lanes do not have the Back Foot Wedge, consider an add-on to the block with the Track Start.
To do this with a big group, try to start them from the right lane and turning to go under the lane line and coming back in the left lane. We call this circle swimming. This way a bigger group can have clean water to dive into and you do not have a chance at hitting the swimmers coming back from the turn. Yes, the times will be slightly slower with the complication of turning under the lane line, but at least they get to work on their start and breakouts without worrying about hitting your lane mates.