Biel, K., Fischer, S., & Kibele, A. (2010). Kinematic analysis of take-off performance in elite swimmers: New OSB11 versus traditional starting block. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 16–19, 2010.

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This study compared the kinematic take-off profiles of German élite swimmers from the new starting block (surface area 74 x 50 cm, 9° surface angle to the ground) and from the traditional starting block (surface area 50 x 50 cm, 5° surface angle to the ground). Male swimmers (grab starters = 3; track starters = 4) had their take-off performances videotaped and examined for selected kinematic parameters (take-off angle and take-off velocity related to the centre of mass trajectory) over the last 10 frames during the block phase and the first five frames in the flight phase. A second video camera measured the starting performance by the time elapsed between the starting signal and the passage of the head at 7.5 m. Ss performed three track starts on the new OSB 11, three track starts on the traditional starting block, and three grab starts on the new OSB 11. The best two trials for each condition were analyzed.

For the track starts, performance was significantly reduced by 0.2 s in the new OSB 11. For the new block, there was a shorter block time and a higher horizontal takeoff velocity. Comparing the two starting techniques on the new block, track starters showed significantly shorter starting and block times as well as a higher horizontal take-off velocities. While a significantly better starting performance was found for the new OSB 11, a modification of the dive-in form is necessary to fully utilize its possibilities.

Implication. The new starting blocks (OSB 11) provide a performance advantage over older models.

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