At our National Junior Team Camp two weeks ago, some of our best young athletes got the chance to try out the new backstroke ledge during a workout. After observing that session and seeing a few other swimmers playing with it, here are my initial thoughts on the ledge’s impact. As always, these are just my opinion and will not necessarily be true for every swimmer.
It’s going to take practice.
The ledge is an adjustable piece of equipment with several height settings that may not line up exactly with where you currently place your feet on the wall. You are going to want to practice with it in warm-ups prior to using it in a race in order to find the best setting for you. You’re not going to slip, but if your feet are in an uncomfortable position at the start that could be just as bad. Also, you will not be able to stagger your foot position; if you choose to use the wedge (you don’t have to) they will have to be even.
You may go higher.
The wedge will allow you to come off of the wall with more height if you push off in an upward direction. This will change your body position in the air and ultimately what you need to do to establish your body line prior to entry (i.e. back arch etc.). If you go higher off of the start, you will likely enter with a steeper body line and…
You may go deeper.
If you enter the water with a steeper body angle, you will almost certainly go deeper off of the start. This will change your angle of approach to the surface and…
You may need fewer kicks to reach 15m.
This is, in my opinion, going to be the biggest adjustment. If you enter the water with more force at a steeper body angle it will almost definitely take you fewer kicks to reach 15 meters. However, it may also take you more time to resurface. If you’re already a good kicker you may need to adjust not only your kick count but also your angle to the surface in order to break out in time.
If you’re looking for more information about the ledge Omega has put together the following informational video: