Racing start safety: head depth and head speed during competitive starts into a water depth of 1.22 m


From the perspective of swimmer safety, there have been no quantitative 3-dimensional studies of the underwater phase of racing starts during competition. To do so, 471 starts were filmed during a meet with a starting depth of 1.22 m and block height of 0.76 m. Starts were stratified according to age (8 & U, 9–10, 11–12, 13–14, and 15 & O) and stroke during the first lap (freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly). Dependent measures were maximum head depth, head speed at maximum head depth, and distance from the wall at maximum head depth. For all three variables, there were significant main effects for age, F(4, 456) = 12.53, p < .001, F(4, 456) = 27.46, p < .001, and F(4, 456) = 54.71, p < .001, respectively, and stroke, F(2, 456) = 16.91, p < .001, F(2, 456) = 8.45, p < .001, and F(2, 456) = 18.15, p < .001, respectively. The older swimmers performed starts that were deeper and faster than the younger swimmers and as a result, the older swimmers may be at a greater risk for injury when performing starts in this pool depth

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