Sabbioni Time Trials into 100 BK Semifinal After Start Wedge Malfunctions Twice


Throughout the heats of the women’s and men’s 100 back prelim races Monday in Gwangju, it became clear that a number of swimmers were struggling with the backstroke wedge system.

Multiple heats saw the field stand down as officials tended to swimmers who had difficulties with the wedge. All seemed to go smoothly until the final heat of the men’s race, when Italy’s Simone Sabbioni stopped after the start due to an issue with his wedge. The rest of the heat completed their race.

Sabbioni was granted a solo re-swim and moved from lane six to lane five. But in his second attempt, the same thing happened: something appeared to go wrong with the wedge and he again stopped before he could accelerate off the wall at all. Sabbione’s backstroke start position is notably more horizontal than we typically see; he sticks his lower back out fairly far while keeping his head in toward the block.

In the video below, however, there appears to be a clear issue with the wedge mechanism–– you can see the straps holding the wedge give out entirely at the :50 mark:

The 22-year-old was again granted another attempt and ended up going 53.85 to qualify 13th for the semi-final.

“I was very focused on making a good start, then when I saw the device come off I said ‘what now?'” Sabbioni said after the race. “The second time it came off I only focused on the fact that I was worried if it came off again. The device also caused problems in the other heats but I’m still very happy that he managed to get into the semifinals.”

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1 year ago

What was the brand?

Reply to  Coachy
1 year ago

Big Baller Brand backstroke wedges

Reply to  Sccoach
1 year ago

A+ comment, SCCOACH!

Reply to  COACH ID
1 year ago

Thanks. I wasn’t sure if it was too deep of a cut. Was also considering making a fyre festival joke

Reply to  Sccoach
1 year ago

Save the fyre fest joke to the ISL

Reply to  Coachy
1 year ago

Based on the photos and the fact that most international meets are Myrtha-

The michael phelps caterpillar
1 year ago

Hmmm. Seems like cheating to me!

Coach ID
1 year ago

Does anyone think his start is the issue? It looks like he’s putting too much downward force on the wedge, and not pushing backward on the pad & wedge together.

m d e
Reply to  Coach ID
1 year ago

He is using the wedge to start as opposed to it being used to avoid a slip. All of his weight is on the wedge.

That doesn’t make it not an equipment failure, but it isn’t really the purpose of the wedge either.

Chaitha D.
Reply to  m d e
1 year ago

Its still legal so it doesn’t matter if he uses the wedge to help his start and not just to avoid slipping

m d e
Reply to  Chaitha D.
1 year ago

I never said it wasn’t legal.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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