Open Letter to FINA Questioning Backstroke Wedge Rules

MISSOULA – Shirley Gustafson, a swim mom and volunteer at Missoula Aquatic Club and a representative of Spectrum Aquatics, has released an open letter to the FINA Technical Committee questioning the current backstroke wedge rules in place.

The letter questions whether the current rules for the backstroke wedge are tailor-made for pools with Omega equipment, or whether the rules are open enough to allow for other manufacturers such as Spectrum to make competing products.

Swimming World requested comment from FINA on this particular letter on Nov. 10, but considering it was late in the evening in Lausanne, was not expecting an immediate response.  Two days later, FINA still has not responded to our inquiries.

Dear FINA Technical Committee,

I have written to you as a representative of Spectrum Aquatics over the past year, trying to get some definitive information regarding the backstroke starting device rules. Today, I am writing to you as a former coach of 20 years and current swim parent for the Missoula Aquatic Club in the state of Montana. We just had our first swim meet using the Spectrum backstroke wedges- it was a success. However, the “rules” that you have put in place which are essentially a copy of the Omega sell sheet, make it difficult for swimmers to use a product made by another manufacturer in a pool without high turning walls (I would guess 90%+ pools in the US do not have this kind of wall configuration). Swimmers can no longer start with their feet at a comfortable position- they need to start with their feet at water level (the Omega rule offers 4 cm of leeway which is just over 2-1/2″). It is clear that this rule was not written for the swimmers but to fit the product constraints of the Omega wedge. I am writing in protest and am hoping you will consider altering the rule to state that the backstroke wedge can be used on the wall wherever it is most comfortable for the swimmer…as the current rule without the wedge allows.

All of the federations in the world are at your mercy, waiting for you to set a fair rule that benefits the swimmers.

Thank you for your consideration,

Shirley Gustafson
Missoula Aquatic Club Mom/Volunteer
Missoula, MT