Fast Water Entry Techniques
Learn fast water entry techniques for escape or rescue in water.
There are different entry and/or initial propulsion techniques which you can use. The one you choose depends on the situation.
- Pool wall push off and the streamline position
- Swimming flip turns and push-off
- How to shallow dive
- How to dolphin dive
- Deep-water floating starts
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Fast Water Entry Techniques
When speed is your primary goal, all these actions will lead into the underwater fly-kick.
Note: When you need to enter unknown waters, use the safe entry techniques described in Part Two of this manual. Opting for a safer entry technique may slow you down, but you won’t be very fast at swimming if you get injured. Safety first, always.
Pool Wall Push off and Streamlined Position
For the greatest speed when pushing-off the edge, drop below the water 1 to 3 feet. When doing a flip turn this will be automatic. Information on how to do swimming flip turns are at the end of this article.
The best position for your legs/feet is shoulder width apart and with a bend in your knees. Push hard off the edge with strong legs and a tight core.
When you push off your body must be as streamlined as possible. Become a straight arrow, stretching your body from your toes to your fingertips.
Place the palm of one hand on the back of the other. Wrap your upper hand’s pinky and thumb around your lower hand and then raise them over your head. Point your fingers in the direction you are going.
Straighten your arms. Tuck them behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Another method is to squeeze your ears between your biceps.
Keep your head down (swimming down-hill) with the top of your head pointing in the direction you want to go.
Point your feet and turn your toes in towards each other a little (pigeon-toed).
Keep your chin tucked and use a smooth exhale in whatever way is most comfortable for you.
Maintain this streamline position as you push off the wall. Start the underwater fly-kick to maintain momentum underwater before surfacing into freestyle.
Note: Being on your side (as opposed to facing down) creates less resistance and you may gain some speed. You should experiment with this.
Swimming Flip Turns and Push-off
Flip turns are often identified with swimming races in a pool. In an emergency situation having to turn in the water is not likely, but it is possible. Knowing how to flip turn will make it much faster.
First, learn the flip turn without having to push off the wall. In an emergency situation, this is most likely the style you will use, and it also makes it easier to learn.
The main flip part of the flip turn is actually only a half-flip. Start by swimming on your stomach (e.g., freestyle). As your arm enters the water for the turn, start a half-flip by tucking your chin and doing a small dolphin kick. At the same time, move your hands to your sides. Breath out through your nose to prevent any water getting up it.
Continue the half-flip by tucking your knees towards your eyes and your feet to your bum. At the same time, push down with the palms of your hands to get your feet over your head. Keep your elbows close to your body while doing this.
As you complete the half-flip, bring your arms into the streamline position. You are now pointing in your new direction of travel.
Roll onto your stomach by twisting your hands a little and looking in the direction you want to rotate. Don’t turn your head, only move your eyes.
Use an explosive kick and arm pull to set you off in your new direction like you would in a floating start.
Note: Don’t try to look where you are going during the flip. It will slow you down and mess up your co-ordination. Look at your knees instead.
To turn and push off a wall (such as in a pool swimming race) speed up (kick harder) when you are about 5 meters away from the wall. Ensure you have enough air to make the turn, but don’t take a breath before it as you will slow down.
Once you are a bit more than an arm’s length away from the wall, do the turn as normal. Push off the wall as described before (Push-off / Streamlined Position). The difference is that you will be face up when you do the push off, toes pointing up.
Once you push off, start to turn onto your stomach and then do underwater fly-kicks.
You may wish to start to fly-kick before (whilst on your back) and/or during your turn also. Experiment to discover what you prefer/works best for you.
Continue to fly-kick until you need to start surface swimming.
Once you can do the basic turn and push off, work on perfecting your distance in relation to the wall. Land your feet with your knees bent close to 90º and your hips bent close to 110º.
How to Shallow Dive
Diving will give you the most propulsion but is also the most dangerous entry method.
Important! If you are unsure of the water depth and/or what lies below the surface, DO NOT DIVE!
In an emergency situation, you may be pretty sure it is safe to dive but do not have the time for a thorough assessment. For this reason, use the shallow dive.
A shallow dive is when you “arc” into the water hands first whilst you adopt the streamlined position.
When starting to perfect your dive, do so from a stationary position. Place your lead (strongest) leg on the edge of the water (e.g. poolside) with your toes a little over the edge. Your rear foot is flat on the ground.
Balance your weight evenly on both feet.
Place your arms above your head in the streamlined position, with your chin tucked to your chest.
Push off with your lead foot so you get some distance. Arc over as you push.
Adopt the streamline position as you enter the water.
Once you are in the water, hold your head up and arch your back. This will steer your body up away from the bottom.
The more you arch, the more speed you will lose. You have to compromise depending on the water depth. Also remember, that you will be faster streamlining a couple of feet below the surface.
Note: Do not look/arch up before you are in the water. You will lose speed and may get injured.
When you’re ready, try diving from a walking and then a running start. In this case, your arms will start by your sides. Once you leap off the edge adopt the correct position so you can enter the water using the same basic form.
How to Dolphin Dive
Dolphin dives are useful when running into the water in a beach scenario. It will allow you to overcome waist/chest deep water as fast as possible. Run until the water is knee/waist high and then use the dolphin dive.
As you run in, be vigilant for obstacles in the terrain, e.g., rocks or holes. Once you hit the water, lift your feet completely out of the water for as long as possible. This decreases “drag time”.
Put your hands in the streamline position and leap/arc over into a dive. Do this before the water decreases your forward momentum. Roughly knee to waist deep.
Don’t dive too hard (you might injure yourself) but dive deep enough to grab the sand on the bottom. Grab hold of the sand and lock your feet in one in front of the other. Push forward off the ground as fast as you can into your next dolphin dive. Continue to dolphin dive in rapid succession until it is too deep to continue (about neck deep).
Do not look up whilst dolphin diving. Like in the shallow dive, this is important for safety and speed.
If a wave is approaching, dolphin dive under it, grab the sand and stay under until the wave passes over you.
Once it is too deep to dolphin dive, transition into the underwater fly-kick.
You can use the dolphin dive to come back into shore also. Swim until it is shallow enough to dolphin dive, then continue to dolphin dive until you can run out.
Deep Water Floating Starts
Use a floating start from a floating/treading position when you have nothing to push off.
The key for this is to use an explosive initial kick (such as a side scissor kick) and then go straight into freestyle.
If you know that you will need a floating start, get as close to the freestyle position as possible.
Adopt a horizontal position. Place your dominant hand in front, ready to pull back into your first stroke. Have your other arm in a half-stroke position. Your heels should be close to the surface of the water. Tread water in this position.
When it is time to swim kick hard as you pull with your first stroke and transition into normal freestyle.
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This concludes the best ways to enter the water when it comes to speed. When approaching a wall in a pool, use the flip turn and push-off to propel you. Go straight into the streamline position. If starting out of the water, the dive is the fastest, but also the most dangerous. Never dive into unknown waters. For open water scenarios, like the beach, the dolphin dive is very useful. Finally, when starting in deeper waters, use the floating start.
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