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Red60
November 14th, 2008, 11:34 PM
So I've been working on the mechanics of all my strokes for the past few months, and I've decided to swim a "sprint pentathlon" at the Louisville TYR meet on Sunday: 50s of all strokes plus a 100 IM. The idea is to establish baseline times to work from. Today I realized that despite years of youth and high school swimming, I probably have never performed a backstroke start in my life. I tried a few today at the end of my workout, and I felt like a chest of drawers falling off a cliff.

What are the parameters of a legal (and ideally not horrific) backstroke start?

pwolf66
November 15th, 2008, 08:21 AM
What are the parameters of a legal (and ideally not horrific) backstroke start?


1) Don't go before the starters beep
2) Don;t curl your toes over the edge of the pool
3) Be rotated towards your back at all times after your feet leave the wall
4) Makes sure your head breaks the surface before the 15m mark

That;s about it.

Redbird Alum
November 15th, 2008, 10:36 AM
Red -

If it is your first meet, and the start from the blocks for you is actually slower than a push off on your back, you may want to use the push off start in establishing your initial base time for future meet comparisons.

It is legal, as long as you remain on your back the entire time.

Usually, it is a good idea to have practiced starts (if your facility, the team and/or lifeguards will allow it) prior to the meet. Also, if you are an older swimmer, there's less chance of you getting hurt when you are pumped up for the race if you are unfamiliar with the correct starting sequence from the blocks.

Just an alternative view from the bleachers...

Red60
November 15th, 2008, 10:47 AM
Mr. Wolf, re: Don't curl your toes. Please explain. Why not?

Redbird Alum
November 15th, 2008, 10:52 AM
Mr. Wolf, re: Don't curl your toes. Please explain. Why not?

Since Wolf is offline, I'll respond...

You cannot use the gutter with your feet (i.e. grip the edge with your toes). The rule was changed some years ago. You have to have your feet/toes below the water line.

You will need to practice this if you have not done it yet, even if it is during warm-up at the meet. If they are using timing pads at your competition, most pads now have a textured surface to help in preventing slippage in the backstroke start. However, if the pads are older, or they are using watches without pads, your feet can sometimes slip during the start.

Red60
November 15th, 2008, 11:03 AM
Wow, thanks Matt. That is very useful information!!

Redbird Alum
November 15th, 2008, 11:06 AM
Let us all know how your meet turns out... it's always fun to hear first impressions as they help us old-timers remember when...

Swim fast!

quicksilver
November 15th, 2008, 11:21 AM
http://www.usms.org/articles/articledisplay.php?a=96

Disregard the toes over the gutters section.

Red60
November 15th, 2008, 11:33 AM
Thanks--will do!

Red60
November 15th, 2008, 11:40 AM
Quicksilver, many thanks for the article tip. Most helpful. Now, can I translate it into a physical action with a modest amount of practice? We shall see. I'm 6'3", 235 so it could be an entertaining affair, if not...

quicksilver
November 15th, 2008, 11:59 AM
You're welcome.


Clay is right in his suggestion of not pulling up too much at the start especially if you're big.
Once the hands are off the grips...gravity takes over.

It was easier when the toes were allowed to latch over the gutter.

I find that if you throw your hands over your head... and lock them together just before the entry, you're back dive will be much cleaner.

Good luck.

Notice how low the elite swimmers remain at take your marks...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yp5w666M24&feature=related

LindsayNB
November 15th, 2008, 12:07 PM
The rules do not require the toes to be under the water, just not in or curled around the gutter. In a pool where the gutter is at water level they would need to be under water I guess but in a pool where the wall extends above the water the toes and feet can be above the water.

ourswimmer
November 15th, 2008, 01:17 PM
I find that I get a much better push if I put my feet about hip-width apart, rather than right next to one another. I also get a better push if I stagger the feet, one up near the top of the water and one about 6 inches below.

knelson
November 15th, 2008, 03:29 PM
Here's a good backstroke technique video from floswiming: http://www.floswimming.org/videos/coverage/view_video/234221-technique-tuesday/78040-backstroke-start-work-with-guy-barnea

quicksilver
November 15th, 2008, 08:35 PM
That was pretty cool Kirk.

rtodd
November 17th, 2008, 08:08 PM
This is a better backstroke technique video

http://www.floswimming.org/videos/speaker/1974-agustin-magruder/80787-friday-afternoon-texas

Red60
November 19th, 2008, 05:08 PM
By way of an update: I successfully completed my backstroke start, insofar as I propelled myself backward into the water. I went a little deep, and had a moment of looking up and thinking, "I gotta get back up there, and soon." I was half a body back of the guy next to me when I came up. But no muscle pull, no humiliating slippage, and no DQ. So the forumites came through again!

I threaten no one in the backstroke department. But in my heat a 75 year-old guy set the world record in the 50 meter back with a 35+. Needless to say I did not seem him finish.

But generally the meet went well--took 1.4 seconds off my 100 meter IM, and stayed static in other events. Need lots of work on breakouts, that's for sure. My SDK needs work, too.

Thanks to all for the help.

mattson
November 19th, 2008, 05:47 PM
I went a little deep, and had a moment of looking up and thinking, "I gotta get back up there, and soon."

I had a moment like that too. Motivated me to work on my underwater dolphin kick.

BillS
November 19th, 2008, 06:10 PM
By way of an update: I successfully completed my backstroke start, insofar as I propelled myself backward into the water. I went a little deep, and had a moment of looking up and thinking, "I gotta get back up there, and soon." I was half a body back of the guy next to me when I came up. But no muscle pull, no humiliating slippage, and no DQ. So the forumites came through again!

I threaten no one in the backstroke department. But in my heat a 75 year-old guy set the world record in the 50 meter back with a 35+. Needless to say I did not seem him finish.

But generally the meet went well--took 1.4 seconds off my 100 meter IM, and stayed static in other events. Need lots of work on breakouts, that's for sure. My SDK needs work, too.

Thanks to all for the help.

I love pentathlons for forcing me to step outside -- way outside -- of my comfort zone. If it's any consolation at all, I am more than 10 seconds slower per 50 in back than free, and my breast is substantially faster than my back. I regularly negative split my 100 IMs.

My backstroke "start" (sic) looks something like the film you see of a ship sliding out of dry dock -- moving oh so painfully slowly, almost imperceptibly, even, at first; then gaining momentum as the inevitability of the combined force of its weight and gravity gradually overcome the inertia holding it in place; and finally crashing inelegantly and inefficiently into the water, sending forth a mighty wave to signal its ungainly arrival at its destination.

And somehow I often manage to go too deep, despite doing the backstroke version of the venerable belly flop.

But for pentathlons, I wouldn't be caught dead trying one in public.