Intro: Catapult Swimming Start
Now-a-days swimming technique is becoming more and more refined as swimmers become faster and faster. In order to work towards becoming as faster you have to do two things: build strength in the water and improve how your body moves through the water.
This post is dealing with a small part of the second thing. This post is about how to improve your catapult start which in my opinion is the best and fastest start. The catapult involves putting tension in your legs and arms as you lean your body back into position. The catapult start gets its name because of the way your body performs the start.
To get you started:
Good and Bad:
Although the video does a good job explaining some of the basics of the catapult start, let’s continue to see how we can improve your catapult start even more.
The idea behind the catapult start is to achieve as much power as possible off of the block and transfer it as best you can into speed going into the water. As the video above showed, entering with your body at a 45 degree angle is good and throwing your hands out in front of you is good, but what else can be improved?
In order to fully maximize the catapult start, you should also focus on when and how your body achieves its pike into the water. To get the most out of your start, you need to pike (or slant) your body into the water at the last possible second. Before I get too far into explaining this let me show you a video: feel free to slow down the video by the “play” button.
So what did I just see?
What you saw was a swimmer who maximizes his catapult start by putting full tension on his arms by leaning back fully. This helps add power to your start because you are using more than just legs (the more muscles involved the better). The other thing that you saw if you watch carefully is the way he keeps his body as parallel with the water as he can for as long as he can. Before he would’ve ended up doing a belly flop, he pikes his body into the water.
Pike? Like the fish?
Piking just means that you use your head, shoulder, and hips to hit the water at one point and follow through with the rest of your body. The motion to start piking begins with your hands, shoulders and head; you direct them towards the point of entry and then continue to follow through with the rest of your body. Confused? Cue video…again I encourage you to use the slow motion.
Did you notice how he started out in a straight, parallel position? He then uses his head, shoulders and hands to tell his body where to go…after that he uses his hips to adjust his body position to create a smooth entry.
Putting the Catapult Start Together
So at the bottom I’ll put one more great video to demonstrate the catapult start but here is a step by step of things to remember:
- Put plenty of tension on your straight arms as you lean back into position
- Make sure to lean back fully to maximize the force going forward (like a slingshot)
- Upon leaving the block, throw hands behind you from the pull but bring directly forward again into streamline.
- For the first split second keep your body parallel with the water but be ready to pike
- Starting with your head, hands and shoulders find the point of entry
- Have your body follow the path set by body in step 5 by using your hips for adjustment
- Enter the water as clean as possible
Whoa..so this might seem like a lot of steps and pretty intimidating but practice will make perfect. The only way to beat out your opponent indefinitely at the start is to apply these elements as seen above. With practice and confidence in your swimming skills, you’ll nail this in no time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your coaches either (that’s what I did).
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