MOSCOW, Russia, June 20. THE Russian nationals might not have featured many performances of note, save for a national record, but the meet featured the official debut of a new starting platform for backstrokers that promises to reduce the danger of slipping on the touchpad.
According to a report issued by the Russian swimming federation, the platform was not tested during competition, but during a break in swimming between sessions in Moscow. The platform features a metal plate that has a non-slip coating for foot placement. In addition to the metal plate, the platform includes attachments that will hook onto the Omega starting blocks that are used in most top international competitions.
Below is the only existing photograph of the platform, courtesy of the Russian swimming federation. Without a full view of the platform, it still leave a few questions open, particularly its placement in the water.
Vladimir Salnikov, the Russian federation president, had high praise for the starting platform, saying: “The jump will be more powerful, and improve the trajectory of entry into the water. As a result, the speed of the athlete at the start will be a few tenths of meters per second more. It's all a positive impact on the result.”
Salnikov's comments echo the thoughts surrounding the fin attached to the Omega blocks for forward starts. Many praised the addition of the angled platform that was proven to shave tenths of seconds off swim times, while opponents called it cheating on the level of the rubber bodysuits that permeated the sport in 2008 and 2009.
The FINA Technical Committee is set to discuss the backstroke starting platform at their meeting next month in Barcelona. If approved, the platform could begin official global testing as early as the week after the world championships, when the World Cup begins in Eindhoven on August 7.
Early comments by swimmers who tested the device in Russia are favorable, with one saying that it levels the playing field by offering backstrokers a special device to aid with starts similar to the track start fin for forward starts. The major obstacle, the Russian report states, is installation. The major kink to work out is the ability of the athlete to install it quickly and without any interruption to his or her race preparation. Salnikov said testing would help reduce installation to “a few seconds.”
In addition to testing the World Cup, a few tests are set for the world championships, though not in during competition. Several countries will be able to conduct tests throughout the fall and report back to FINA, as well as Myrtha Pools and Omega, who worked in designing the platform. It is not known how long the testing phase would last.