Whether it’s your first time on a relay or you’re a veteran, you’re probably aware of the impact a relay dive can have. A single dive can take you from first place to last place, or vice versa. You probably also know how many points a relay can be worth. The last thing you want to do is get your relay disqualified! If you’re wondering how to do a relay dive or how to take yours to the next level, this guide is packed with ideas for you.
Throw & Go
Throw and go is the simplest type of relay dive. If you’re new to relays, this is a great dive to start with. Bend your knees and lean forward. Lean your chest over your thighs. Place both feet forward with your toes on the edge of the block. Stretch your arms out from your shoulders.
Hot Tip: Stay Low
As you bring your arms back, keep your knees bent and your chest low. Many swimmers stand up while swinging their arms. This eliminates the knee-bend, and decreases the push from the block.
When the swimmer before you is at about mid-pool on their last lap, point your fingertips toward them. Follow them in with your fingertips until the swimmer gets about one stroke away from the wall. Then swing your arms down past your hips, and forward into a streamline. As they swing forward, push off the block for the dive.
Time It Well
Timing is everything. There’s a rule that the swimmer in the water must touch the wall before the next swimmer leaves the block. If you leave too early, your relay can get disqualified. This can cost your team several points, since relays are worth much more than individual events. If anything, leave a little late.
Since each swimmer is a different speed, the one-stroke suggestion might not apply. It’s simply a good ballpark for when to start bringing your arms back. Practice the relay dive over and over, and see what’s right for you.
Start in the same position you did for the throw and go dive: Knees bent, chest low, and arms out. This time, start to bring your arms back when the swimmer gets to about the T. Instead of bringing your arms down past your hips, move them upward. Reach your hands up toward the sky like a double-arm backstroke motion. Swing your arms all the way behind you, and continue past your hips. Bring them full circle, and join your hands together for a dive.
Now that you’re doing a full wind-up, the urge to stand up as your arms swing around might feel stronger. Make sure you keep your chest low as you swing your arms around.
Focus on Timing
Once again, the timing will need to be tweaked. If the person before you is swimming in butterfly, the timing for your wind-up will be much different than if they’re swimming backstroke. Also, one person’s tempo for a stroke can be drastically different from someone else’s. Make sure you practice with the swimmers that are actually on your relay, as they perform the strokes that they will actually be swimming.
Some swimmers like to start with one foot on the edge of the block, and one placed foot back. This foot placement looks similar to a track start. Perform a wind-up start as you did in the previous dive. As your hands pass your hips, step forward with your back foot.
A Tricky Start
You might like this step-start for added momentum leaving the block. Keep in mind that this is tricky and can be difficult to time correctly. Only attempt this start if you already have a proficient wind-up start. Also, make sure you get a lot of practice in before the meet!
This next dive is for advanced swimmers only. The jump start can be tricky and dangerous! You can easily fall off the block and hurt yourself. Only attempt this with a coach’s supervision and approval.
Wipe off the Block
Before you begin, wipe off the block with a towel. You don’t want to attempt the jump start on a slippery block! Start with both feet back. Place your feet at an easy hopping distance from the edge of the block. Since everyone is different, do a couple of hops on the ground to find what your comfortable hopping distance is.
Perform a wind-up start once again. Right before your hands pass your hips, hop forward. By the time you reach the edge of the block, your hands will be ready to meet into a streamline.
Play It Safe
Keep in mind that it’s not required that you do a relay dive. If you’re uncomfortable with a relay dive, do a regular track start or two-foot start — the kind you would do for an individual race. Ask a teammate to tell you when to leave the block. This way, you can focus on your race instead of worrying about throwing your arms around. The dive will be slower this way, but it’s better than getting your relay disqualified!
Also, practice with your relay. This way, you can get an idea of what their tempos are like. The more you practice, the more accurate and comfortable you will feel on race day.