Takeda, T., Takagi, H., & Tsubakimoto, S. (2010). Comparison among three types of relay start in competitive swimming. A paper presented at the XIth International Symposium for Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, Oslo, June 1619, 2010.

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This study evaluated the effectiveness of the no-step, single-step, and double- step relay starts. Collegiate male swimmers (N = 8) performed six, maximum effort relay starts of each form. Ground reaction forces, take-off velocity, and take-off angle from the force plate were measured. Relay time was measured by counting video images.

Relay times were significantly shorter in the order of no-step start (~0.018 s), single-step start (~0.052 s), and double-step start (~0.087 s). Horizontal velocity (leg-drive) was significantly faster in the no-step start (~3.50 m/s) than in the double-step start (~3.22 m/s). There were no significant differences in horizontal take-off velocity or take-off angle between any of the starts. Trials were missed because of the difficulty of performing accurate stepping actions in the step-starts [an indication of the degree of difficulty of the techniques].

Implication. Performing any form of a step-start requires much practice because of the difficulty in the stepping movements. Without practice, a no-step start is better than any step-start and would be the preferred form of relay start in young swimmers. The possibility exists for the step-starts to be superior once a swimmer's skill level at executing them is developed.

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