de Jesus, K., Figueiredo, P. A., Gonçalves, P., Pereira, S. M., Vilas-Boas, J. P., & Fernandes, R. J. (2010). Biomechanical characterization of the backstroke start in immerged and emerged feet conditions. 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 two variants of the backstroke start technique, one with the feet parallel completely immersed and the other with the feet parallel and completely out of the water. Male high-level swimmers (N = 6) performed two sets of four maximal intensity backstroke starts using the two variants. Trials were two minutes apart with one hour between the two sets. The handgrip system was adapted to keep the same body elevation above the water surface. The backstroke start was divided into three phases: hands-off, take-off, and flight. Several temporal and kinematical parameters were measured.

Higher flight time and higher horizontal displacement of the centre of mass were recorded for the immersed feet position. The feet-out-of-the-water start produced higher impulse, and higher time of hands-off, foot take-off, and total start. The total time spent during the start was lower for in-water than out-of-the-water feet positions. Immersed feet would be preferable for competitive use.

Implication. Coaching immersed-feet backstroke starts should produce the best starting performance.

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