The Race Club: Fast Swimming Starts With Kasia Wasick

Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.

We worked with four-time Olympian Kasia Wilk Wasick on her swimming start. In our first video, we performed a series of dryland exercises and flexibility tests.

In this video we begin our pool session with Kasia first showing us her ‘old’ start. Coach Gary videos and then reviews each start with Kasia progressively working on techniques that can be improved.

Initially, Kasia’s first dives she has her weight forward that doesn’t allow for a coupling motion with the arm swing. In order to incorporate an arm swing into the dive Kasia must change her setup position on the blocks. This requires a ‘weight back’ start where the center of mass is shifted towards the back foot. This creates tension in the hands and arms and allows the swimmer to pull up on the block creating a coupling motion with the arms.

Once Kasia is comfortable with a new setup position on the blocks she begins to learn how to swing the arms around and keep the head up longer to maximize this coupling motion. In learning this start, each swimmer progresses a little bit differently that requires different drills and exercises to learn how to perform each coupling motion.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

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14 days ago

having a great start takes 3 steps, it’s really quite simple.

  1. Pull up youtube
  2. Watch Caeleb Dressel’s start
  3. Copy Caeleb Dressel’s start

Wham bam alakazam thank you ma’am. You’ve got a good start.

There are a lot of mixed opinions from various fans in the swim community about a lot of topics, but I don’t think anyone would argue the fact that Dressel has the best first 15m in the history of swimming. And if you can name someone better, please downvote me and leave your suggestion in the replies. But why learn from Wasick when you can learn from the best?

Reply to  saltie
14 days ago

The best start for a swimmer with a 41 inch vertical is not necessarily the same as the best start for a swimmer with a 14 inch vertical.

Knowing how to maximize both is what makes a coach a great coach :-).

(G)olden Bear
14 days ago

Here’s all that matters: first one to the 15m mark.

Raymond Woods
14 days ago

Gary, I agree with all of it with the exception of the rocking back.

Reply to  Raymond Woods
14 days ago

They have produced plenty of data suggesting putting weight (not a lot, but enough to “notice” paraphrasing) on the back foot = faster first 15m time. And it makes sense, since it forces the athlete to use both legs to jump off of (watch how many truly only jump off the front leg otherwise…)

Last edited 14 days ago by DrSwimPhil
Raymond Woods
Reply to  DrSwimPhil
14 days ago

All the test I’ve run on my swimmers show that when they’re on their front foot and not their back foot, the reflexes are faster and the whole point of the start is to go forward not backwards

Reply to  Raymond Woods
13 days ago

The reflexes don’t take into account the power and angle of entry (both of which are lost immensely with only using the front leg). That’s why their numbers show putting some weight on the back foot gets the swimmer to 15m faster. The power/angle outweighs any negativity of the reflexes.

15 days ago

Still lost to Kate Douglass of all people

Reply to  RealCrocker5040
14 days ago

Yet, Wasick cleaned out the entire USA Swimming female sprint crew in the women’s 50 meter freestyle last month at the 2024 TYR Pro Swim Series – San Antonio.

15 days ago

Would have been great to see the final product after the running starts. Not clear to me how one engages the hips upwards when the head is kept up high for so long?

Reply to  StuartC
14 days ago

By arching back. I suppose the Brad Tandy start is the reference

Last edited 14 days ago by alex
15 days ago

Gary Hall, SR – now there was a true Olympian!
PS: I liked the video and its nuts-n-bolts approach to the ever-increasing importance of good starting technique.