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How to Do a Front Pike Take-Down

As the first move in so many different figures, the front pike take-down has the power of the first impression. Because it's such a common beginning, it will likely be a part of every figure competition you ever participate in. That makes learning it—and learning it well—that much more important.

This guide first takes you step-by-step through a successful front pike take-down. Then, there are some suggestions for performing the skill in a routine.

Learning the Front Pike Take-Down


Front Layout

  1. Start in your best front layout. Check your position and make sure that at least your heels and head are on the surface (but you should try and get as much of your body up to the surface as possible).
  2. Use canoe scull, with your hands underneath your chest or stomach, and of course, palms facing the bottom.
  3. Your face can stay up to breath until you're ready to start.

Barrel Scull & Pike Down

  1. After taking a breath, put your face slowly into the water.
  2. Gently reach your hands forward towards the bottom corner of the pool. Take one or two mini breaststrokes using just your wrists to get some forward momentum.
  3. Start barrel sculling, pushing water behind your head. This will pull you headfirst through the water and help you keep your feet up.
  4. At the same time, begin to pike down by bending your body (instead of pushing or pulling yourself into position with your hands).
  5. When you arrive in the pike, your hips should be where your head was before you started piking. Keep your legs, from hips to heels, at the surface the entire time.

Hot Tip: First Impressions

You might feel like you're doing the judging panel a favor by rushing through the front pike portion of your figure. But even if you're the 219th figure competitor they've seen over the last few hours, they will always reward you for doing it slowly, correctly, and with control.


  1. Hold the pike position using barrel scull, instead of bringing your hands immediately into paddle scull under your knees.
  2. If this makes you travel foot-first, turn your palms so they face your feet every time they scull away from your head.


Front Pikes in Your Routine

Front pikes will show up in just about every synchro routine you ever do because they're a quick and comfortable way to get into a hybrid. Two of the more basic ways to pike down in a routine are described below.

Front Layout

It's actually easier to flatten out your body during a routine than in figure competition because you get to use momentum. Here are two methods for swimming into your front layout:

Using breaststroke:

  1. Start with a head-up breaststroke pull and draw in your legs to get ready to kick.
  2. Put your face in the water at the same time as you kick and glide into a front layout with your hands out in front of you.

From your side:

  1. Start in a side layout, flutter kicking.
  2. Extend the arm closest to the surface alongside your body and reach the other one out in the direction you're swimming.
  3. Sweep the arm that's by your side across the surface, passing in front of you, so that it ends up next to your other hand (also pointing in the direction you're swimming). By the time it gets there, you should have rolled all the way onto your stomach to end in a front layout with both hands out in front.

Pull & Pike

Whichever way you choose to get into your front layout, the next steps are the same.

  1. Use both hands to pull yourself headfirst and your body down into your pike position.
  2. As soon as your body reaches the pike position, your legs, from hips to heels, should be at the surface. Your hips and feet should not have to go far, since they started very shallow in the front layout.


The second you arrive in your pike, move your hands into position and support scull. It won't take a lot of work to hold your pike up, but it's good to be ready for whatever is coming next.


Getting It Down

Learning to do a great front pike take down, whether for figure or routine competition, is something that you'll be proud to check off the list of must-have synchro skills. Practice and perfect it every time you get a chance—you will definitely get the opportunity often enough!

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