B. Schlegel, K. Wiebusch, & S. Otto, PhD,
Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN

In recent years starting block platforms in swimming have been modified to include an adjustable back plate, which has drawn the attention of some researchers. Beretić, Đurović, and Okičić (2012) reported that the kick-start with the use of the back plate resulted in a significantly faster ten-meter swim time (p=0.04) compared to a traditional track start without a back plate. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of adding a back plate to the platform of a starting block in swimming on reaction and 12.5-yard swim time. This study included male and female athletes from a Division III swim team. A one-sample design was used. Subjects were allowed time to familiarize themselves with both styles of starting block. They then performed three starts followed by a 12.5-yard freestyle swim using the back plate style and three using the traditional platform style in a randomized sequence. The average of each block style was calculated and used for analysis. The independent variable was the starting block style. The dependent variables were reaction time and 12.5-yard swim time. Two paired sample t-tests were used to compare the difference in reaction and 12.5-yard swim time between the two starts. Significance was determined at the p ≤ .025 level controlling for Familywise error rate due to the multiple t-tests needed. Results revealed that there was not a significant difference in reaction time between starting block style at the p≤ 0.025, t (24) = 1.955, p = 0.063. The results indicated a statistically significant difference in 12.5-yard time at the p ≤ .025 for the start with the back plate, t (24) = 9.98, p = 0.000. The mean score for the back plate reaction time (0.429 ± 0.109) was not significantly less than the mean score for the traditional starting block reaction time (0.464 ± 0.099). The mean score for the 12.5-yard swim time from the back plate (4.823 ± .388) was significantly less than the mean 12.5-yard swim time from the traditional starting block (4.972 ± .399). In conclusion, this study may suggest that a back plate could be utilized to improve reaction time and 12.5-yard swim time for collegiate swimmers. Future research might look at force generated from different starting style. IRB# 1314-0265.

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