The NCAA announced last month that it wouldn’t allow the kick-plates to be removed from blocks for relay events at the women’s NCAA Championships in Minneapolis.
For those swimmers preparing for the competition in just a few weeks who want to know how the blocks will work for relay exchanges, or for fans who want a closer look at what the Spectrum-brand blocks are like, SwimSwam has you covered.
We’ve got some photos of the Minnesota starting blocks with the kick-plates (the wedges on top of the blocks) in various positions. Here is how the block looks with the wedge slid all the way back:
Here they are with the wedge a bit farther forward:
The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committee decided not to allow the wedges to be removed for relays as was done at the Big Ten Championships last March. Here’s a quick video of the wedge being removed – it slides off the front of the block, and though the action is pretty easy to accomplish, there is a possibility of a kick-plate falling into the pool, which might be one reason their removal isn’t being allowed.
The big guns pulling the wedge off the block belong to Minnesota swimmer Andrew Hartbarger, who graciously volunteered to be our SwimSwam hand model.
Still, the blocks are quite large, so swimmers should still be able to do step-up relay starts without having to step on or over the wedge. Here’s a picture of the blocks with a swimmer’s feet for scale. On the block is Minnesota women’s swimmer Jessica Plant, who told us she hasn’t had a problem relay starting from in front of the wedge so far this season.
And since we’re posting pictures, here’s one more for the backstroke-inclined among us. This shows the backstroke bars, which are essentially H-shaped with grab areas set up both horizontally and vertically.