Improve your open water starts

Practice them in the pool with no-push starts


Wondering how you can practice open water starts? Read on for some handy tips from former 220 Coach of the Year, Simon Ward.


There are several skills to practise for deep-water starts. No-push starts are a perfect way to do this, and can be practised in your local pool.

Starting position

Firstly, mimic the action of starting while floating. Swim 2m from the pool wall and stretch out on your left-hand side – not face-down but not completely on your side.

Your right arm should be extended out in front and your left hand by your left hip. Flutter-kick your legs gently and scull gently with both arms.

Starting reaction

In most races, you’ll have 30 or 60secs warning but no countdown. Get a friend to stand on poolside to give you that warning before shouting ‘Go!’.

Arm speed

As you start, initiate the catch with your right hand and throw your left arm forwards as fast as possible. You need to get the arms turning fast, so aim for shorter faster strokes to accelerate forward. You only need do this for 10-15 strokes before gradually getting into your normal swimming pace.


Most triathletes don’t kick to start. To get the ultimate deep-water start, you’ll need to kick very hard while your arms are spinning fast. This will also reduce the potential for other swimmers to swim over your legs.

Make at least 10% of your session kick-related and include some very fast efforts for 10-15m before settling into your normal race rhythm.


For more swim-related training advice, head to our Training section here