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The secret to a great forward start is STREAMLINE. For Cullen, that means both ends of the body are shaped like an arrow. He locks the hands. He gets his head right between his arms. He flattens his back...points his toes...and this SHAPE helps him maintain speed and momentum off the blocks.

Step #1: The “Sit” Dive

When Cullen teaches the forward start, SAFETY is his main concern, so he always teaches in deep water where there’s no chance of hitting the bottom.

He likes to start low and easy -- with something he calls the “Sit” Dive. This works best if your pool has a deck with a gutter and ledge underneath. Start by sitting on the deck and resting your heels on the ledge underneath. Get your arms in a tight streamline and hold onto your streamline as you stand up just a little bit and then dive forward into the water.

From the back, notice the tight streamline with Cullen’s arms...and that he tries to keep the legs nice and straight and toes pointed as he dives into the water.

Step #2: Fall into the Water - Kneeling
Step #2 for learning the forward start is to simply FALL into the water. Start in a kneeling position, with one foot over the edge of the pool. Arms in streamline. Back leg bent directly behind the body. Now all you do is fall in the water.

Don’t push off yet. If we slow it down, you can see that Cullen’s hands enter the water BEFORE his feet leave the deck. You want to feel like you’re SLIPPING into the water, rather than hitting with your chest. Remember to keep your head tight between the arms.

Once you can slip into the water, aim your hands just a little farther out. You’re still BARELY pushing off -- just aiming farther out.

Gradually aim the hands even farther.

And, finally, aim the hands a little farther out and now you can add a slight push with your legs.

Step #3: Fall into the Water - Standing
Step #3 is to fall into the water, but this time you’re standing up. Curl your toes over the edge. Lean over at the waist, with your head, arms, and hands in streamline. Then just fall in.

Let’s check...Are Cullen’s feet still on the deck when his hands enter? YES! He can actually SEE his feet as they leave the wall. And notice that he’s keeping everything flat -- from his hands through the shoulders and all along his back.

Now aim the hands a little farther out. Still keeping the back nice and flat.

Now aim a little farther, and add a slight push from the legs.

And with the same streamline but a little more push.

From the back, notice that Cullen enters the water with no splash...just a nice clean entry with the hands and feet.

Step #4: Fall into the Water - from the Blocks
Step #4 is to fall into the water from the blocks. When you step to the block, Job #1 is to plant your feet. Place them shoulder-width apart for a stable base. And curl your toes over the edge to get a really good grip.

Get your arms ready EXACTLY like you did in the previous steps. Bend at the knees and the waist, and simply fall into the water, keeping your head tight between your arms.

If we slow it down, you can see that the feet won’t QUITE be on the blocks when the hands touch the water. But notice that Cullen’s back is still straight. It’s really important to hold everything in a good streamline.

Try it again, but this time aim the hands farther out and add a slight push with the legs.

And finally...add a little more push. Aim a little farther out. Once you can do this, you’re ready to learn the Grab Start and the Track Start.