Starts Turns and Finish Tips


Basic Guide to Start, Turns and Finish



  • Starts- swimmer must be ready on whistle – no adjusting goggles on blocks. On take your mark – swimmers must be still in start position. Swimmers must surface before15 m
  • Breaststroke and Fly: Touch simultaneously with 2 hands, hands cannot meet but 1 can be higher than other
  • Backstroke Turn: Can touch turn on front and push off on back. In backstroke flip turn, the pull must be continuous, starting while rotating onto front
  • Backstroke Finish: Must touch on back, 1 part of the body must break the water.
  • IM Butterfly to Back and Breaststroke to Freestyle: Touch with 2 hands
  • IM Backstroke to Breaststroke: Must stay on back to touch and then push off on front


  1. Launch
  • Pull up on blocks= switches on and fire up gluts to drive you forward
  • Hands directly below shoulders
  • Launch is straight out
  • Back leg pushed right back and up (ball of foot only on start wedge)
  • Strongest leg in front

              Test – jump in air – see which foot goes in front or someone pushes you from behind

  • Arms come through
  • Front leg pushes through and back to join back leg
  1. Entry
  • Punch through water – like a knife straight
  • Head in line
  • Gluts switched on
  • Don’t stay underwater for too long as forward momentum will be lost

Breaststroke Start:

  • To get most out of underwater work, in pull, include 1 fly kick in streamline
  • Dive, streamline, fly kick and pull through, 1 kick and then hands to top to commence stroke. Head needs to break the surface of the water before your hands start the catch part of the pull i.e. before they move past shoulder width.

Backstroke Start:

  • Pull up to sit on the surface or as far as you can (limitations of an older swimmer!)
  • Flat back – 90 degree power position for knees
  • No need to pull in -Straight back, head in line with spine
  • Feet – shoulder width apart and slightly staggered gives better grip on wall
  • Sequence: Arms then shoulders then hips then toes point to blocks

-Like a dead lift movement

-Arms switch up before legs – arms go back

-Push against bar 1st– body driving back before legs   ***prevent slipping

-Arms BACK, not UP!  Bend through and around

-Head neutral

** Older Masters swimmers may find it just as effective to duck down on start and push off underwater.


  • Underwater Work very important
  • Practise dolphin kick off wall, no stroke till flags, no breathe on first stroke


Tumble Turns Drills

  • Somersault in water push off pool bottom and jump to streamline.

Next step – jump and rotate 180 degree

  • Somersault down lane – couple of strokes and tumble slapping calves on water
  • Time turns from 10m – full pace on wall

Touch Turns

Can be just as effective for novice swimmers as a tumble turn

  • Finish on a full stroke
  • Hit the wall at speed to come off quickly
  • Head down – breathing – low and late
  • Technique: eyes down, touch with hands, 1 hand come off almost immediately, knees up on wall and body starts to come onto side, arms go: PUNCH YOUR BROTHER, PHONE YOUR MOTHER

Touch Turn Drills:

Hanging on side of pool, on whistle bring knees up on wall, then work through stages of turn until finally complete action with push off.