Pre-NCAA PSA: Photos and video of Minnesota starting blocks and kick plates

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:

Minnesota Spectrum starting blocks

The spectrum starting blocks have kick-plate wedges that slide along the handgrips. Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson.

Here they are with the wedge a bit farther forward:

Courtesy of Jared Anderson

The mechanism to move the wedges around is pretty typical – pull the handle at the back and slide the kick-plate to whatever depth you want. Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson

Courtesy of Jared Anderson

Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson.


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.

Courtesy of Jared Anderson

Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson.

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.

Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson.

Photo courtesy of Jared Anderson.

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Steve Nolan

Locker room shots or GTFO.


Agreed STEVEN NOLAN, what do the urinals look like??


Another reason to dislike the NCAA for this senseless rule.


Ever see one of those wedges shoot off the back of the block, when not properly re-secured. My bet is that this will become a more permanent part of the block and the sport.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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