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The swimming start is highly influential to overall competition performance. Therefore, it is paramount to develop reliable methods to perform accurate biomechanical analysis of start performance for training and research. The Wetplate Analysis System is a custom-made force plate system developed by the Australian Institute of Sport—Aquatic Testing, Training and Research Unit (AIS ATTRU). This sophisticated system combines both force data and 2D digitization to measure a number of kinetic and kinematic parameter values in an attempt to evaluate start performance. Fourteen elite swimmers performed two maximal effort dives (performance was defined as time from start signal to 15 m) over two separate testing sessions. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were used to determine each parameter’s reliability. The kinetic parameters all had ICC greater than 0.9 except the time of peak vertical force (0.742). This may have been due to variations in movement initiation after the starting signal between trials. The kinematic and time parameters also had ICC greater than 0.9 apart from for the time of maximum depth (0.719). This parameter was lower due to the swimmers varying their depth between trials. Based on the high ICC scores for all parameters, the Wetplate Analysis System is suitable for biomechanical analysis of swimming starts.
Elaine Tor and David L. Pease are with the Aquatic Testing, Training and Research Unit, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia. Elaine Tor and Kevin A. Ball are with the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.