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Abstract

To expand upon previous studies showing inexperienced high school swimmers can complete significantly shallower racing starts when asked to start “shallow,” 42 age group swimmers (6-14 years old) were filmed underwater during completion of competitive starts. Two starts (1 normal and 1 “requested shallow”) were executed from a 0.76 m block into 1.83 m of water. Dependent measures were maximum depth of the center of the head, head speed at maximum head depth, and distance from the starting wall at maximum head depth. Statistical analyses yielded significant main effects (p < 0.05) for start type and age. The oldest swimmers’ starts were deeper and faster than the youngest swimmers’ starts. When asked to dive shallowly, maximum head depth decreased (0.10 m) and head speed increased (0.32 ms-1) regardless of age group. The ability of all age groups to modify start depth implies that spinal cord injuries during competitive swimming starts are not necessarily due to age-related deficits in basic motor skills.

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