With the AUT Millennium Swim School Carnival coming up this month, I thought it would be a good idea to dedicate this month’s ‘tips’ section to racing. I’m going to share a little about what goes on in a race and some of the important things to remember when racing.

Firstly, what I believe is the most important thing to remember is that when you are swimming, you don’t automatically go faster just by moving your arms and legs faster without control. Remind your child of all the good technique that their teacher has taught them! The reason we teach your children good technique is not just so they look good in the water, but to give them the best opportunity to have the most control and movement in the water. Good technique = efficiency in the water.


Now, you may have seen your child learn how to dive in their lessons, however this can sometimes be hard to teach due to the water depths we teach in. To give you an idea of what your child should be trying to do, here are a few tips.

  • Aim to enter the water on an angle, NOT FLAT! We don’t want any belly flops! In order to do this, it is important to remember to keep the head down in streamline. This will allow your child to get their body at a good angle when entering the water.
  • Your hands should be the first thing to enter the water, and the body follows. A good way to help your child understand is to get them to pretend they have to dive through a hula hoop floating on the water without touching the edges.
  • Get your child to aim to get their body straightened out when they enter the water. This will allow them to enter smoothly and generate the most momentum.

Tumble Turns/Touch Turns

If your child is entered in events longer than 25m, then I highly recommend tumble turns! Tumble turns are a great way to get in and out of the wall at a high speed, rather than touching the wall, taking a short breather, and then pushing off again. Here are some top tips for tumble turns:

  • Tuck into a tight ball to get a fast tumble turn. Faster the turn, the faster your child will be off the wall.
  • Have a strong push off underwater in streamline! Streamline is significantly faster than just pushing off with the arms by the side.
  • Implementing butterfly kicks underwater helps keep the momentum from the push off the wall for longer. You are at your fastest when diving in and pushing off the walls.
  • Don’t forget to blow out your nose during the tumble turn!

Breaststroke and butterfly have a different turn compared to freestyle and backstroke. These strokes have a touch turn. Here are some top tips on touch turns:

  • Remember to tuck your knees up when completing the touch turn.
  • Try not to push off at the top of the turn, allow yourself to sink into the water before your push off to allow you to get underwater.
  • Remember to take a breathe on the touch turn!
  • In breaststroke, perform a pull out rather than butterfly kicks.

For more on tumble turns, check out this article.

Final tips

Here are some important things to remind your child before they go race:

  • The whistle will blow, meaning “swimmers get ready!” You must get up onto the block/alongside the block/into the water and be ready to go. The starter will say “Take your marks,” and then the starter will sound to begin the race.
  • Good technique = better efficiency.
  • Most importantly, HAVE FUN! This swim meet is a good opportunity for your child to see what racing is all about and to have a good chance to race against their friends.

If there are any technique tips you’d like us to tackle, let us know by emailing [email protected]

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Jacob Garrod works for AUT Millennium Swim School and the Schools Programme. He started back in February 2015 and teaches from Breather Level right through to Development Two. Whilst working part time, he is also in the home stretch of completing his Bachelor of Business Degree at Massey University in Albany. Jacob learned to swim aged three, and became a competitive swimmer at the age of 7. He continued right through until 22, clocking up 15 years in the sport. He specialised in breaststroke and has represented New Zealand on the international level, attending two Oceania Championships in 2014 and 2016, where he managed to get five medals - three gold, and two silver. Jacob also attended the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, in Nanjing, China, and the 2017 World University Games, in Taipei, Taiwan. Jacob attended multiple National Championships where he managed to get medals throughout the years, from junior level, to age group level, right through to open level.