Gwangju Update: Backstroke Ledges Will Be At Uniform Setting For All


We saw a tumultuous day 2 prelims session where we saw several mishaps involving the backstroke ledges in both the women’s and men’s backstroke heats. Due to this, a decision has been made for the ledges not to be used during tonight’s semi-final action at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Update since publishing: Ledges will now be reinstated, but they will be fully extended to the same setting for all swimmers.

Per NBC announcer Rowdy Gaines‘ Twitter, issues will be avoided altogether by the ledges simply not being in use tonight. We will continue to update on if they will be reinstated for the finals.

As reported during the heats, several women’s races were delayed as the backstroke ledges needed to be tended to prior to the starting sequence. The situation worsened with the men’s heats, where we saw 2 swimmers awarded time trial swims due to starting misfires due to the ledges.

Simone Sabbioni of Italy and Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago were each granted an individual time trial due to obvious, race-impacting slipping at the start, the latter of whom fired off a new National Record in his 2nd swim.

Ultimately, instead of displacing swimmers in the 15th and 16th slot that would have been booted out of the semi-finals due to Sabbioni’s and Carter’s individual swims, tonight’s men’s semi-final will see 18 swimmers in 2 heats of 9.

In terms of backstroke ledges and their impact on the race, swimmers typically benefit from better starting grip, body placement and push factor from using this relatively newer piece of equipment. You can read more about backstroke ledge’s early days here.

Below is a video released by FINA back in 2014, which explains how the backstroke ledge should work.

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Anti Kajlich
3 years ago

New affordable fail-safe BS Ledge, complying with Fina Rules, is coming out of Australia – moved (Pat Appl 2019) by TrackStart (2002 patent), global delivery to pools by air courier. SwimSwam – Yours is great swim sport promotion!

3 years ago

Even the non-back starts have looked a little sketchy, especially for the men’s sprint events. Seems to be a lot of flex in those starting blocks.

3 years ago

Forward start

pete kennedy
3 years ago

Phil Moriarty Yale swim coach was the first one to develop a backstroke in the water “starting block” but political forces
prevented him from being able to win FINA approval. It is mentioned in my book on Kiphuth.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  pete kennedy
3 years ago

Thank you for the insight Pete!

3 years ago

“I look up to you so much oh my god” what an amazing thing to overhear between Macneil and Sjostrom

The Ready Room
3 years ago

Shameful implementation.

Texas Tap Water
3 years ago

All things considered Gwangju organizers managed the fiasco very well and treated the impacted swimmers with fairness. Bravo!

3 years ago

Sorry? are we at a local club meet or is this the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS? They have had all day to fix/replace/AmazonPrime a new set in for the finals. A complete disservice to the athletes who have practiced their starts to perfection. FINA, what an absolute sh*tshow.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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