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"Take Your Mark" - Dive Starting off a block

Why is this important?

Dive starting is the method for starting all races except for the backstroke. Thus, you need to know it! Plus, a good start to a 25 or 50 m swim (what most of you are doing) will put you in the lead; good stroke technique will keep you there!


  1. Before you can dive off a platform 2 feet above the water (at least), you will first need to learn how to dive off the edge. If you can't dive from the side, you aren't ready to progress to the diveblock, especially since Foothills Pool is quite shallow (unlike Talisman, where you will be swimming).
  2. Know the cadence, or order, around what will occur:
    1. swimmers marshall behind the block (you will be placed there if a beginning swimmer)
    2. you will be asked your name to confirm you are in the correct heat
    3. once the race before you has started, take off your shirt, put on your cap and generally get ready. Think fast thoughts!
    4. The whistle will blow 3 times. That's your cue to step UP to the block
    5. One LONG whistle will blow. This is your cue to step ON to the block
    6. Starter will say "TAKE YOUR MARK", this is you bending down to get ready to spring
    7. A "beep" or electronic "honk" will start the race. At hearing this, the race is on!
  3. To get yourself ready BEFORE getting on the block:
    1. Have a cap on. Caps help you to keep your goggles on
    2. Have your goggles on nice and snug
    3. Make sure you spit in 'em, rub around and rinse them just before. This helps prevent fogging up. Despite the H1N1, this is still the oldest and best fog prevention.
  4. To set after "TAKE YOUR MARK" is called, the bottom line is you've got to be ready to spring as fast as possible. How you do this is up to you but there are 2 general ways to do this: Classic and Sprinter
  5. At the beep, LEAP off the block by pushing forward off it with your arms and legs simultaneously once you are given the signal to go. In the air, your arms should quickly move into the streamline position above your head. As you hit the water, make sure your head is tucked in and that you straighten your body out after you enter the water to avoid going too deep. Begin kicking immediately if you are doing freestyle, otherwise streamline until you slow down.

Classic Method Stance:

  • Two feet in front with your toes over the edge of the block.
  • Swimmer bends down leaning SLIGHTLY on the balls of the toes forward
  • Hands grip the edge of the block
  • Head is looking down or tucked (whatever your preference)

Sprinter Stance:

  • Start by placing one of your feet on front so the toes of that foot are over the edge.
  • Place your other foot about shoulder-width behind you. It doesn't matter which foot is in front, you can experiment with both to see which you can dive better with.
  • Crouch down with your feet where they were and grab the front of the starting block with one hand at a time
  • At "TAKE YOUR MARK", bend down far enough so your chest is touching the top of your thighs and lift your butt.
  • When you become better, you should be leaning enough forward so you feel like you could fall in at any time.


  • Practise your dive outside of swim practise if you can. Try to remember the steps to the cadence.
  • At home, you can practise with a friend by working on reaction time. Bend over as if you are starting and jump forward when you hear the "beep"
  • Goggles coming off: First, make sure your goggles are on securely. Secondly, if they are coming off after being quite tight there's only one reason; you are not tucking your chin on entry.
  • Perfect this: it is the fastest part of your race.
  • To practise the streamline AFTER the dive, it's important that you practise the streamline EVERYTIME you push off for another length.