Good News On Breaststroke And Backstroke

Elizabeth pel

FINA Congress has rejected a proposal to allow multiple dolphin kicking out of starts on breaststroke – the rule will remain the same and underwater cameras to be considered – while international federation bosses have approved the use of a ledge for backstroke swimmers at the 15th World Championships in Barcelona in a move that would give those who start races in the water the kind of support provided for those diving from the top of the blocks; mixed relays join the FINA programme from 2014

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FINA Congress has rejected a proposal to allow multiple dolphin kicking out of starts on breaststroke – the rule will remain the same and underwater cameras to be considered – while international federation bosses have approved the use of a ledge for backstroke swimmers at the 15th World Championships in Barcelona in a move that would give those who start races in the water the kind of support provided for those diving from the top of the blocks; mixed relays join the FINA programme from 2014



Thank you FINA for not destroying breaststroke, the most beautiful technical stroke, sanity prevails.

Craig, was anything decided about greater use of underwater cameras to detect violations?

Craig Lord

Hi there – I added a last par to the story – … no discussion on underwater cameras and therefore the issues remains unresolved…


So it’s carry on cheating then I guess. Shame on you FINA, dedicated athletes deserve better.

Craig Lord

Sorry, our comments overlapped more news… apparently FINA will discuss underwater camera backup at Congress tomorrow and the signs look good for approval of use…


That is good news, thanks for the update Craig. Let’s hope they do the right thing.


I’m not a fan of adding ledges on walls. Of course, elite athletes probably think it’s nice thing as it makes their start more reliable, easy and allows cutting off some time. Yes, more world records! There are drawbacks though. The backstroke events are not the same anymore owing to the advantage offered by new tools. Same applies to the improved starting blocks.

These new installations set more requirements for training facilities and they add costs. It’s not probably an issue for Mr. Peirsol, some elite clubs etc. but it may be the issue in a bit poorer countries and in wealthy nations as well especially when it comes to the facilities used by youngsters. In Finland, only the best swimming halls have these new blocks. They are updated every time when a swimming hall goes through a complete renovation but it may take years or decades.

It’s a little bit difficult to perfect your starts, from the blocks or wall, if you cannot train with the tools used in big meetings. Hanser Garcia was happy in an interview as there was no cold weather coming in the next weeks when he was training in Cuba. Why? Because he doesn’t have a heated pool to train in. I’m confident he doesn’t have these state-of-the-art starting blocks or helping ledges either. And everyone is wondering how bad starts and turns elite swimmer like Garcia has? There may be simple reasons for that. In my book, what makes swimming so beautiful sport is its purity. Adding these tools is a step towards wrong direction. Of course, just my opinion.

I think the timing pad is not too slippery. If you cannot jump from that, you haven’t made your homework well enough. What comes next? A catapult in order to make sure that everyone starts with same speed? A little uncertainty belongs to sports.

Lawrie Cox

Good news that sanity has prevailed it should never been allowed to get as far as it did. The issue of cameras is the responsibility of the general congress and as such it has been opposed by the bureau but supported by many as sensible not as a primary but an ability to be reviewed by the referee in the event of doubt. With todays result maybe just maybe we will get some use of the underwater camera. Should be many happy swimmers, coaches and technical officials today.

Mike in Dallas

Breast stroke was my forte for 12 years! The thought of having a fundamental change — and thus not being able to compare times any more — would have been terrible!! The guardians at this website have done a great job in helping FINA see through their own fog and get it right: NO CHANGES!

Underwater cameras are just a needed fact of life — when Olympic medalists telll us about unethical behavior, and then, FINA does nothing — that’s BAD! Cameras, YES!

If Aaron Peirsol says we need the backstroke ledge/wedge, that is good enough for me.

All in all, a positive day for keeping (and returning) swimming to 3 things: swimmer’s ability / textile suit / H2O!


If the underwater cameras are installed, I hope they are not one of the essentials of arranging FINA-status meetings for youngsters at national level. It’s a different kettle of fish at the World Championships level.

Mark Janlelow

Hi, Craig
Thanks for the update!
The mixed relays will be fun!
Imagime Missy Franklin in with the men?
How will the IM be constituted?


I hope FINA wouldn’t dilute too much the value of current events. I’m against adding the number of relays but for the slight modifications to the current schedule of the s/c World Championships.

I’m for a tryout of mixed relays as it increases the possibilities for smaller swimming nations. Still, let’s advance carefully. How about replacing some current relays with mixed relays in the schedule of s/c Worlds. I think we could swim the medley relay as a mixed version but the 4*100m free relay should remain as it is. When it comes to 4*200m free relay I’d cancel it in the s/c meetings but replace it with a 4*50m free mixed relay.

It would be just good if there were a little bit difference between the schedules of s/c and l/c championships. It would emphasize their positions as an independent World Championships.

Lennart van Haaften

I’m not a supporter of adding more relays, 8 overall is a bit much to me. I’m not necessarily against mixed relays though. Will the World Aquatics Championships also feature mixed relays from 2015 on?

I’d rather see the 50 meter real-freestyle (long course), that is, without the arbitrary 15 meter limit. It’s not truly `freestyle’ when your constrain the swimming technique.

Lennart van Haaften

SwimFanFinland, that’s a nice idea. The s/c worlds don’t have that much history yet, so it doesn’t hurt to experiment a bit with the program. I think the 4×200 isn’t really necessary in s/c meets, the European s/c champs only have 4×50 (same gender as well as mixed).


What a result for british breaststroke. We got the one of the fastest in the world 31’3 for the second 50. Now we got a more even start, and maybe cameras. 33-1 looking good for Ross Murdoch for a place in barcelona. Might have a pound on him.

Craig Lord

Hi Mark… teams can place swimmers in any order they wish…

Craig Lord

Hi Lennart. Yes, from 2014 s/c and 2015 l/c


There have been times when the American high school rulebook allowed a start with feet out of the water and you were effectively standing in the gutter. And you got seriously more power from it than you did from a FINA rulebook start. When it’s phased in, everyone gets a tick or two faster.

OldSchool Backstroker

Swim Fan FInland – you’re a little off base here on backstroke. Back in the 70’s and 80’s FINA rules allowed your toes to be above the water. The rule stated that some part of your body had to be in the water during the backstroke start which led to the standing start pioneered by John Nabor and others. Additionally, FINA allowed the use of a ledge for a brief time back in the ’70s. A Connecticut swim parent by the name of Jim Davidson, working with Phil Moriarity, invented and patented a device very similar to that described in the article. A metal ledge with adjustable straps that went around the starting blocks was placed in the water before each backstroke race, and removed after each start. The major advantage was mental – the fear of slipping at the start was removed.
I don’t see this as something new, this is a return to the way things were.


Raced and slipped horribly in the backstroke just yesterday on the plastic start pads. Reckon i lost about 1.3 seconds right there and emerged an entire body length behind the rest of the field. There need not be anything too sophisticated. Just a plastic board that can hang over the edge of the pool, with one side cut out, and on the bottom a 1 – 1.5 cm bulge on which to place the toes so as not to slip. That’s all. It shouldn’t reduce time in case someone starts properly, but it should nullify slipping.

Mark Jankelow

Thanks, Craig
So the mixed relays will have 2 men and 2 women in any order, and any stroke mix for the IM?

Mike in Dallas

Mixed Relays? Boring! And talk about making the programme LONGER.
With men competing against men in individual races, and women competing against women in individual races,
why all of a sudden would we do MIXED relays where time comparison is really worthless.
Swimming is all about TIME!
Let’s keep it neat, fast, and respectful of gender differences!

Craig Lord

Yep, that’s it (perhaps for both of those last comments :).


OldSchool Backstroker,

Thanks for your info, I didn’t know that. Still, I prefer keeping it simple.

Lennart van Haaften,

Yes, when it comes to the relays maybe we should follow the same schedule as is used at the s/c European Championships. Longer relays belong to long pool while these hectic 50m relays are more suitable in short pool. Among all sports swimming has probably most relays already so adding relays on top of old ones may just go too far. If we try something new, which is only a good thing, let’s make it carefully and start with s/c Worlds only.

I’m always trying figure out what is good for swimming in general. How to make it more popular in the eyes of people etc. Complexity and confusion are always a bad thing. What’s clear to swimming enthusiasts may not be to the big audience that is watching swimming once or twice a year. We must think them!


Sooo happy about the impending tick for underwater cameras on breaststroke!! About time!!!

Craig Lord



So they introduce the ledge on the world championships.

This small ledge can probably make a difference of 0.1-0.2 seconds

Oh yes.

Smart decision.


Since the ledge was not available for any swimmers before the competition, except maybe the US

coast boy

The ledge will be at least 0.5 to 0.7 sec faster (mens). Not only the actual drive but the speed in which the backstrokers will be swimming at. The start is the fastest phase of the swimming, so with the added acceleration from the start the speed will effect positively on the speed throughout the first lap. Simple physics!!!!!!

Craig Lord

More news tomorrow … but it won’t happen in Barcelona I now hear: only from 2014…

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