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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Very questionable call here, don’t see that there is really any good option but a lot of swimmers these days rely on wedges and wouldn’t practice without them, myself included. I just hope nobody slips.


Thanks Simone, this is why we can’t have nice things.


“We couldn’t fix it in time and this morning was embarrassing so we’ve taken them away”.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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