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The first few yards after the wall push-off is the fastest part of each lap. Take advantage of this “free speed” by powering off the wall with strong legs, a tight core and a good streamline position. Swimming 3,000 yards in a 25-yard pool equals 120 push-offs—or the equivalent of a 20-minute squat workout in the gym!
Studies have shown that a swimmer will experience less turbulence 1–3 feet underwater than when gliding along the surface of the water. Get into this position naturally with a flip-turn or by dropping below the surface after an open (touch) turn. In preparation to push off the wall, use a stance similar to jumping on dry land. Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the wall and keep a bend in your knees.
A good streamline position offers the least resistance and provides the most distance after a powerful push-off. Imagine yourself as a pointy arrow piercing through the water. Place the palm of one hand on the back of the other hand. Raise your hands over your head, point your fingers toward the opposite wall, straighten your arms and squeeze your head with your biceps while keeping your chin tucked.
Maintain a streamline position as you “jump” off the wall. Start flutter kicking and angle yourself toward the surface as you begin to slow down. (You can also dolphin kick, which will add core strength to any swim workout.) Use 2–4 strong kicks, originating from your abs (not your knees), to maintain momentum underwater before taking the first stroke.
Want to build strength for a stronger push-off? Here are a few exercises to build explosive power in your legs.
» Box Jumps: 3×30 sec continuous jumps. Use a low box that you can hop on and off of quickly.
» Walking Lunges: 3×20 lunges (10 each leg). Hold dumbbells to increase difficulty.
» Froggies: 3×8 jumps. Start in a deep squat position (sitting on heels); jump up vertically using arms to lift you up high (arms and legs will form an “X” in the air), then land back into a deep squat.