Every time we practice starts in or out of the water, I place strong emphasis of swimmers doing the following in a streamline position:
- Chin to chest, looking down at the bottom of the pool
- One hand on top of the other and arms extended, making the body a long as possible
*note that in freestyle or backstroke the hand of the first stroking arm should be on the bottom
Despite repeating this instruction and demonstrations of the technique, many swimmers do not fully take on this position when pushing off the wall from a start, turn or dive. Swimmers who do not adopt the best streamline positions have their arms apart or their arms are not fully stretched above the head, leading to a diamond shape being made with the arms. The video above from Gary Hall Sr at The Race Club in Florida demonstrates the art of streamlining really well.
The challenge of streamlining is to be able to apply the correct technique through training and in a race when the swimmer is tired. When we fatigue it becomes easier to leave the arms apart or not extend the position properly, which in turn, while perhaps feeling easier, actually slows us down.
So, perfect the streamline push-off and see your performance improve, so long as you pair it with a strong kick off the wall.
Have fun, train safe and train smart!