THE STARTING BLOCK
Part 2 The Finish!

Ever watch a race and someone who looks like they are behind at the finish wins! It is estimated an improved finish can reduce your time by .1 to .2 seconds, and a poor finish can cost .5 seconds.

Every stroke finishes slightly different; but we will start with Breast and Butterfly. Always look for the wall 8 to 10 meters out and try to finish on one final explosive outstretch of the arms, jabbing your hands into the touch pads 2 to 4 inches below the water surface. Never touch higher up as you might not activate the touch pad. If you come up just short, never take another stroke; streamline and stretch into the touch pads. The rules for both strokes allow your head to be underwater at the finish, so try to finish underwater. Your velocity is higher underwater than above, remember every hundredth of a second helps.

Some of you may recall that Mat Biondi in the 1988 Olympics glided into the wall and lost the 100 fly to Nesty. Biondi had the right technique - Nesty just judged the finish to perfection and won the Gold! Butterfliers must continue kicking even while jabbing into the pads, and in both strokes you should not breathe on the last stroke into the wall. You too can win more often by improving your finish.

On Freestyle and Backstroke you again must know exactly where you are. Make the last arm stroke the most powerful and the race. Extend the arm to the wall as far as possible.You can easily gain a additional 6 to 8 inches reach. Whatever you do, don't look up or back with the head. This can be just like throwing out a parachute, slowing you down enough to lose. You don't need to see where your competitors finish because you've just touched them out. Again, don't stop kicking until after the touch.

When you swim relays, remember the leading cause of disqualifications is not the swimmer on the blocks. The cause is usually the swimmer in the water not judging the finish, and taking extra strokes into the wall. The swimmer on the blocks cannot anticipate these extra strokes, and starts into the air too soon. Use these finishing tips. They can make a winner out of you and your relay teammates.

by Wayne McCauley




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