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Indianaman79
February 3rd, 2013, 03:25 PM
So i was at a swim meet this weekend and a guy was using a towel on the starting blocks because there was zero traction on the tops. The offical came over right before the heat started and told the guy he couldnt use the towel because it was an artifical surface and it gave him an unfair advantage (i was in the lane next to him and i overheard the conversation). I was bored between events and looked at the rules and didnt see anything about this. Was the official right? If not, im bringing a towel next time too!

Betsy
February 4th, 2013, 06:41 AM
There does not seem to be a consensus on this among officials. I have been to meets where a towel was allowed and ones (more often) where they were not allowed. To be really technical, in my opinion, it gives you an advantage because it shortens the pool length by whatever the thickness of the towel is. Times are disallowed if the pool length is off at all, so should a towel be allowed?

Rob Copeland
February 4th, 2013, 08:40 AM
It depends on which official it was. If it was anyone besides the referee, then it would be incorrect. If it was the referee, then it is within the referee’s jurisdiction to make the call.

If the decision was a correct call, I’ll leave this to the Rules Committee. However if the blocks had “zero traction on the tops”, then these blocks should have been not used for starts. USMS 107.11.3 “… The entire surface of the platform shall be faced with permanent nonslip material” is mandatory for all sanctioned events. Any lane with a block without nonslip material should not be used or if the lane is used the swimmers should only be allowed to start from the wall or in the water.

You are within your right to respectfully ask the official to cite the reference.

fmracing
February 4th, 2013, 09:27 AM
I asked about this with a meet official once last year. He said that normally it isn't allowed, but that I could make a case with him and if I could show that there existed a risk to safety due to slippery block surfaces that I would be permitted to use a towel.

As for the comment about towel thickness.. do you think those blocks are installed THAT uniform that they all line up to the wall perfectly square and of the same depth within a compressed towel thickness? Every meet I've ever been to there's at least one block thats not even squared up to the wall because its either bent from a fat guy like me, or that they squared up the block anchor and the block surface is not square to its own anchoring system. I'm not talking about a millimeter either. I've seen blocks that are an inch further towards the pool edge on one corner, and and inch back on the other.

knelson
February 4th, 2013, 09:52 AM
Every meet I've ever been to there's at least one block thats not even squared up to the wall because its either bent from a fat guy like me, or that they squared up the block anchor and the block surface is not square to its own anchoring system. I'm not talking about a millimeter either. I've seen blocks that are an inch further towards the pool edge on one corner, and and inch back on the other.

I know. It's sort of funny when you think about all the effort that goes into certifying pool length and I've never ever seen anyone check that the blocks are actually mounted correctly.

Allen Stark
February 4th, 2013, 10:17 AM
I know. It's sort of funny when you think about all the effort that goes into certifying pool length and I've never ever seen anyone check that the blocks are actually mounted correctly.

It seems strange that the blocks aren't checked,but I doubt that they are.Some of the blocks where I swim most are noticeable out of alignment, such that you gain or lose a couple of cm depending on which foot you put forward.If you think 1 cm doesn't matter,you haven't been following the pool length discussion.

__steve__
February 4th, 2013, 10:35 AM
What about using a towel to dry the block off? The towel is still being used on the block but is removed prior to the start sequence.

knelson
February 4th, 2013, 10:43 AM
What about using a towel to dry the block off?

I can't imagine there's any problem with doing this as long as you aren't delaying the meet.

Chris Stevenson
February 4th, 2013, 10:54 AM
You are within your right to respectfully ask the official to site the reference.

Where would the official put it? Or is that part of the respectful suggestion? :bolt:

Rob Copeland
February 4th, 2013, 11:03 AM
Where would the official put it? Or is that part of the respectful suggestion? :bolt:Hopefully within plane cite.:blush:

fmracing
February 4th, 2013, 11:17 AM
I know. It's sort of funny when you think about all the effort that goes into certifying pool length and I've never ever seen anyone check that the blocks are actually mounted correctly.

We won't even go into the blocks that actually shift backward when you push off...

Allen Stark
February 4th, 2013, 02:11 PM
When a pool gets new blocks, do they check to make sure they are exactly aligned with the wall?

fmracing
February 4th, 2013, 03:27 PM
When a pool gets new blocks, do they check to make sure they are exactly aligned with the wall?

Maybe. Depends, I suspect many of the square drop-in mounts are probably squared up to the pool side when they are poured or bored into the deck, but its doubtful that when a pool is being constructed that all 8 blocks are installed first and checked for squareness before finalizing the anchors. Over time also, they bend, shift, get rounded off, etc which allows for minute amounts of play at the anchor, and that leads to alot more play once it reaches the front of the block surface.

I've also seen plenty of pools over the years where the front of the block surface was out over the water past the pads rather than situated in the plane of the pads. It would be unknown whether this was improper setup at build time, an aftermath install by someone that didn't know any better, or bending/replacement of the blocks to become out of spec over time.

Its just funny how exact we are about the pool length, and no one ever says anything about the blocks being screwed up far greater than the tolerance factor we have for the pool itself. I've also never seen mesurements of the plane of the front of the blocks performed at the same time the pool was being measured, and I've watched this rather laughable site a few times over the years (a tape measure with floaties?). You would think in our stickler set of rules that this would also be paramount. What is the actual tolerance for the pool? Did I read +/- 3mm?

Sorry the towel topic went off course with the block talk.

Back to topic I queried a local high school coach about towels on the blocks just a few weeks ago and heard the most strange thing yet regarding this practice. In my state's high school athletic administration, a new rule was passed in regards to the block towels. A request must be put in with the home team athletic director explaining the need for towels on the blocks, this must be then approved, ratified by the coaches and the athletic directors of those respective schools that are also participating in the meet, and from there everyone MUST use towels on the blocks, and the officials can still chose to shoot their use down. Oh, and all of this massive collaboration must take place two weeks in advance of a meet.

What the hell happened to "let them play" ? Are there lawyers involved in sports rulebooks now or something?

TRYM_Swimmer
February 4th, 2013, 04:42 PM
What about using a towel to dry the block off? The towel is still being used on the block but is removed prior to the start sequence.

I seem to remember a lot of the Olympians drying the blocks with towels before their races.

rxleakem
February 4th, 2013, 10:08 PM
I seem to remember a lot of the Olympians drying the blocks with towels before their races.

I've seen this done at a masters meet, but can't remember when someone has left a towel on the block during a start. Wonder if a towel on the block's deck might affect the reaction time recording that happens at some meets?

Michael Heather
February 5th, 2013, 01:06 AM
Out here in the wild west, I have never seen an official comment on a towel on the blocks. It also may have to do with the very real problem of heat in the summer months. Some blocks are faced with black anti skid material that can blister the bottoms of the feet. A towel is, at that time, a safety measure.