Poolside starting blocks, also known as starting platforms, help provide a standardized start for each swimmer in a competitive meet. Mastering the technique of diving off the platform and into the water for a fast start can make the difference between winning or losing a swim race.
There are two main ways of diving off the starting blocks: the track start, with one foot forward, and the butterfly start, with both feet together. In both cases the forward foot or feet are curled over the forward edge of the starting blocks. (See Reference 1.)
Swimmers should try to explode with the legs, using their toes to push off the blocks, and push instead of grabbing with the hands. This helps ensure the fastest start possible. (See Reference 2.)
Competitive starting blocks come in many designs and may be permanently or temporarily fixed in place at one or both ends of a pool. (See Reference 3, under "Blocks.")
Size and Cost
Swimming platforms typically range from about 18 inches to 30 inches in height. They may cost as little as $1,000 each or upward of $4,000. (See Reference 5.)
Most starting dives from the starting blocks or platform are done facing forward. Swimmers competing in the backstroke start in the pool, grasping the edge of the starting platform. (See Reference 4.)
Article Written By Marie Mulrooney
Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.