USA Swimming Hopes to Unveil Backstroke Wedges at Mesa Grand Prix

  28 Braden Keith | January 24th, 2014 | Arena Pro Swim Series, Industry, News

If all goes well at a site visit by makers Omega next week, the newly-approved backstroke start wedges will make their USA Swimming major debut at the Mesa Grand Prix in April, and be seen again at the Santa Clara Grand Prix in June.

“That is our goal,” USA Swimming Assistant Executive Director Mike Unger, and swim meet operations guru, told us today. “We are working with Omega to have them used at the Mesa and Santa Clara Arena Grand Prix meets.”

The “wedges” were approved by FINA at last summer’s new rules committee meetings in Barcelona in July, but as with any new equipment it takes some time for development to be completed, and for further testing, before it can logistically be used in competition.

The purpose of the new wedges is to give a more standardized starting foot placement for backstrokers. With different pool designs and different types (and qualities) of touch pads, it can create an inconsistent starting surface for backstrokers. The hope is that these new wedges will decrease the incidence of slips on backstroke starts, which are not uncommon even at high level meets.

With the combination of these new blocks, as well as the recent addition of vertical gripping handles, the start continues to become a more-and-more explosive part of the backstroke race.

Below are photos from demonstrations of the new wedges that Myrtha Pools and Omega developed; images are from the 2012 World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Courtesy: Myrtha Pools

Courtesy: Myrtha Pools

Courtesy: Myrtha Pools

Courtesy: Myrtha Pools

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28 Comments on "USA Swimming Hopes to Unveil Backstroke Wedges at Mesa Grand Prix"

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I wonder if these will be in effect for the coming olympics in rio. Will this new starting wedge be a world wide aspect? or will only the united states have access? if it is only the united states that is getting practice with it before the olympics, it seems as though it would be an unfair advantage for teams from other countries.

Its good thing because in india most of swimming pools tiles are smooth and we boys couldn’t take good start due to more slippery of tiles.
wish it could come in india


I’m sure the majority of swimming halls in the world don’t even have the starting blocks currently used in FINA meets. Some can train with the official blocks and some don’t. By the way, is this about creating a little bit revenue for the important sponsors of FINA?

I second what Patrick Brundage said above. Why not to get rid of the whole backstroke start? A swimmer can make a normal dive start and turn himself/herself over during the underwater. This would bring new world records to grab the headlines that FINA and many others so much love.

But actually swimming needs more dramatics not less.


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Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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