3 Techniques for a Clean Start Entry: The Hip Lift

Of the ten techniques we teach at The Race Club for a great start, three techniques are for a clean start entry. A clean entry simply means causing less splash. The less the splash the swimmer makes, the lower the drag upon entry and the better a swimmer can carry his or her speed.
This week our Race Club video focuses on developing the hip lift on the start. Lifting or flexing the hip before entering the water is something that virtually every elite swimmer does, yet it rarely gets much discussion. Yet, the hip lift is a critical part of a great start.
Rather than entering the water with the body straight, right before entry, the swimmer should flex or lift the hip slightly, creating about a 15 – 20 degree angle of the upper body with the surface of the water. The legs then become nearly parallel with the surface.
If the entire body is straight at entry, the swimmer will often end up too deep on the start. To avoid going too deep, the swimmer often then over bends the knees at entry in order to change directions, causing an excessive amount of frontal drag. Interestingly, if the swimmer flexes or bends too much at the hip, he or she will also go too deep on the start. We often see the breaststrokers flex more at the hip upon entry, as they can afford to go deeper for the long pullout.
The secret is to bend or flex the hip just the right amount, and that seems to be around 15-20 degrees. With that amount of hip flexion, assuming the swimmer’s trajectory off the block is horizontal, the upper body pierces the water at just the right angle. The legs then follow the upper body very naturally through the same entry point. With a very slight knee bend and a strong toe point, the legs will also enter cleanly into the water.
Some swimmers learn to do the hip lift right away. Others don’t. The best drill we have found to teach swimmers how to do a hip lift on the start is using the run-and-dive drill at the deep end of the pool. This week we are releasing a great video on how we teach the hip lift at The Race Club by using this drill. As you will see, most of these swimmers are learning to do it for the first time.
When swimmers experience a nice hip lift on the start for the first time, they emerge from the breakout with a huge smile on their faces. They can feel themselves carry their speed into the water with a whoosh at entry. It is just like a diver who nails a dive off of the springboard. He or she knows it right away.
To improve your starts, and work on the three techniques for a clean start entry, check out our entire video series where we will cover all ten important techniques that you need to learn. Some of them are yet to come.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.
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