• P. Vint
  • S. Mclean
  • R. Hinrichs
  • S. Riewald
  • R. Mason
Keywords: swimming, track start, incline, side handle, FINA


The purpose of this study was to quantify differences in swimming track start performances using side handle and front handle grip techniques and using an inclined platform at the rear of the starting platform. An instrumented starting block system was designed to allow front grip and side grip starting techniques and inclusion of a rear incline. Thirty male and 20 female junior elite swimmers completed three starts in each of four start block configurations: (1) Flat (traditional) block, front handle grip; (2) Flat (traditional) block, side handle grip; (3) Incline (new) block, front handle grip; (4) Incline (new) block, side handle grip. Force and video data were used to quantify parameters related to starting performance. Results indicated that use of side handles had a substantial impact on start performance while the effects of the rear incline were less pronounced. Compared to using a front grip technique, use of the side handles increased horizontal velocity at takeoff up to 18%, resulted in a more horizontal takeoff angle by up to 2°, increased contribution to horizontal impulse from arms up to 12%, increased peak horizontal power up to 28%, decreased time to 6 m by 4% and increased velocity at 6 m by 2.5%. These advantages were achieved at a cost of an 8% increase in propulsion time. Based on this study, we recommend swimmers develop familiarity with the use of side handles when performing a track start and to use this technique if handles are available on a starting block.
Coaching and Sports Activities