During the Fall through Spring season we train at the Vashon Athletic Club. This pool is too small and shallow to conduct all necessary training for competitive swimming. Therefore, we schedule off-island practices at South Kitsap HS or Mt Tahoma HS. This allows us to work on block starts, turns and familiarity with a 25 yard course. We also use it to throw in a lot of fun and games, as well.
All swimmers need to be able to demonstrate that they can control the depth of their entry before they can be certified for diving off the blocks at meets.
It’s a great opportunity for team building, and there is only one practice per quarter, so please be sure to attend.
Improper head-first entries can be dangerous for experienced as well as inexperienced swimmers. The American Red Cross outlines a progression for the teaching of a head-first entry in the water. Coaches should instruct swimmers in this step-by-step progression before attempting to have them use the starting blocks. Swimmers must be able to enter the water with control at each step before moving on to the next. The steps are:
- Sitting Position
- Kneeling Position
- Compact Position
- Stride Position
- Shallow-Angle Dive
Racing Starts from Starting Blocks
Water entries from starting blocks present an additional area of concern. Starting blocks should only be used by trained swimmers during controlled practice, supervised warm-up or meet conditions. Knowing how to properly enter the water is the key to knowing how to control how shallow or deep an entry is into the water. Trained swimmers of all ages can adjust the depth of their entries when they are aware of the depth or when told of the water depth. It is important that coaches verbally provide the direction to dive shallower when swimmers are performing racing starts in shallower water. Swimmers must learn how to enter the water with control in order to manage depth safely.
Swimmers who are unable to control the depth of their entries should not be directed to perform racing starts from the pool deck as a “safer” alternative to using starting blocks. Studies indicate that swimmers who are unable to control the depth of their entries from regulation starting blocks also cannot control their entries from the pool deck. They go just as deep in the water from the pool deck as from starting blocks. This means that swimmers who are unable to control their entries at any step in the learning progression are not ready for racing starts.
Once these skills are learned, they should be performed only with proper supervision and in water depths that conform with the rules of the concerned regulating body, such as USA Swimming.