At least one SEC coach has speculated that the step-over relay start (originally popularized by Texas which you can read about here) is creating a situation where despite clean relay takeovers, swimmers are being disqualified due to the reaction judging pads thinking that they left early at this year’s SEC Championships.
In a step-over start the swimmer prepares for the takeover with one foot on the wedge and one foot behind the wedge on the back portion of the block. When initiating the motion, the swimmer brings their foot onto the front edge of the block with their toes. At no point is there full contact with the foot on the portion of the block in front of the wedge.
Although it’s just speculation, the belief is that the Relay Judging Platform (RJP) is recording swimmers leaving earlier than they actually are due to position of the foot; most likely the step foot leaving the front of the block an instant before the wedge foot does, or the front foot not registering at the front of the platform.
While there’s no proof that this start is causing the false readings from the pads, there is video evidence of disquadlified relays that appeared to be safe but show negative takeovertimes from the RJP.
Beginning with Wednesday’s preliminary session, the RJPs were turned off at the meet for both individual and relay swims. No relays were disqualified in the men’s or women’s 200 free relays on Wednesday evening.
As of now, the following relays have been disqualified at the SEC Championships
Women’s 200 medley relay
- South Carolina
Women’s 800 freestyle relay
Men’s 800 freestyle relay