Honda, K. E., Sinclair, P. J., Mason, B. R., & Pease, D. L. (2010). A biomechanical comparison of elite swimmers' start performance using the traditional track start and the new kick start. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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"The international governing body for swimming (FINA) has approved the use of a new starting block (Omega, OSB11) with an inclined kick plate. This has required the development of a kick start technique. The kick plate is angled at 30 to the surface of the block and can move through five different locations on the platform. To date, no study has examined the biomechanical factors associated with a start using the OSB11."

This study determined the effects of the new start platform on performance relative to that of the track start on a standard platform. Elite swimmers (M = 9; F = 5), whom had personal best times of a minimum of 850 FINA points, completed six dive and glide starts (three kick starts and three track starts) in a randomized sequence. The analysis system included a series of calibrated high speed digital cameras, one above water to capture the start and three underwater from 0 m to 15 m. A video camera timing system was used to obtain the times at 5 and 7.5 m.

The mean time on block was 0.77 s for the kick start, which was significantly less than the track start (0.80 s). The kick start was also significantly faster at 5 and 7.5 m than the track start (~.04 s differences). The kick start produced a significantly higher horizontal take-off velocity (4.48 m/s) compared to the track start (4.41 m/s) and a higher average horizontal force (0.60 N/kg compared to 0.57 N/kg). The average velocity between 5 and 7.5 m was not significantly different between the two techniques.

Implication. The kick start on the new OSB11 start platform was significantly faster than the track start on a conventional platform. Despite Ss' own preference for the track start, the kick start was significantly faster off the block, with a higher horizontal velocity and an increased on-block horizontal force. This advantage was maintained through 5 and 7.5 m. Adapting to the new block and the new starting technique is advisable.

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