Title:
Starting aid for use in swimming
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A starting aid for use in swimming comprising a platform with a leading edge wherein said platform is configured to be disposed with said leading edge adjacent to an edge of a swimming pool said aid further comprising a surface, located behind said leading edge and upwardly inclined with respect to said platform, for a swimmer to push against with one foot whilst diving from the platform.



Inventors:
Curry, Francesca (London, GB)
Application Number:
10/513559
Publication Date:
10/13/2005
Filing Date:
05/02/2003
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B5/10; (IPC1-7): A63B5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TAM M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HODGSON RUSS LLP (BUFFALO, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A starting aid for use in swimming comprising a platform with a leading edge, the platform being configured to be disposed with said leading edge adjacent to an edge of a swimming pool, and comprising a first surface extending back from said leading edge and upon which a swimmer can stand, and a further surface upwardly inclined with respect to said platform, for a swimmer to push against with the other foot whilst diving from the platform, the further surface being disposed behind the first surface so that the swimmer's feet are positioned for a track start.

2. A starting aid according to claim 1 comprising a second inclined surface positioned forward of said first inclined surface.

3. A starting aid according to claim 2 wherein said second inclined surface has a width less than that of the platform.

4. A starting aid according to claim 1 wherein the angle of inclination of a said surface is adjustable.

5. A starting aid according to claim 1 wherein the distance of a said surface behind the leading edge of the platform is adjustable.

6. A starting aid according to claim 5 wherein a said surface is provided on structure slidable along a track in said platform, said track extending rearwardly from said leading edge.

7. A starting aid according to claim 5 wherein the platform is provided with an array of spaced recesses adapted to receive corresponding projections on structure providing a said inclined surface.

8. A starting aid according to claim 1 wherein the height of said platform is adjustable.

9. A starting aid according to claim 1 wherein said platform and a said surface are integrally formed.

10. A starting aid according to claim 2 wherein the second inclined surface is configured for removable attachment to the platform at or adjacent either of said platform's lateral edges.

11. A starting aid for use in swimming comprising an inclined surface configured for attachment to a platform having a leading edge adjacent a pool edge such that said surface is located behind said leading edge and upwardly inclined with respect to said platform for a swimmer to push against with one foot whilst diving from the platform.

12. A starting aid according to claim 11 comprising a second inclined surface positioned forward of said first inclined surface.

13. A starting aid according to claim 12 wherein said second inclined surface has a width less that that of the platform.

14. A starting aid according to claim 11 wherein the angle of inclination of said surface is adjustable.

15. A starting aid according to claim 11 wherein the distance of a said surface behind the leading edge of the platform is adjustable.

16. A starting aid according to claim 15 wherein a said surface is provided on structure slidable along a track fastened to said platform such that it extends rearwardly from said leading edge.

17. A starting aid according to claim 15 wherein the platform is provided with an array of spaced recesses adapted to receive corresponding projections on structure providing a said inclined surface.

18. A starting aid according to claim 11 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

19. (canceled)

20. A starting aid according to claim 2 wherein said platform and a said surface are integrally formed.

21. A starting aid according to claim 12 wherein the angle of inclination of said surface is adjustable.

22. A starting aid according to claim 13 wherein the angle of inclination of said surface is adjustable.

23. A starting aid according to claim 12 wherein the distance of a said surface behind the leading edge of the platform is adjustable.

24. A starting aid according to claim 13 wherein the distance of a said surface behind the leading edge of the platform is adjustable.

25. A starting aid according to claim 14 wherein the distance of a said surface behind the leading edge of the platform is adjustable.

26. A starting aid according to claim 12 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

27. A starting aid according to claim 13 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

28. A starting aid according to claim 14 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

29. A starting aid according to claim 15 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

30. A starting aid according to claim 16 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

31. A starting aid according to claim 17 wherein said aid is adapted for removable attachment to said platform.

Description:

The present invention relates to starting aids and in particular to starting aids for use in competitive swimming, or in swimming training.

Whilst swimming in its purest form is a simple sport requiring nothing more than a body of water to swim in, at elite levels every facet is closely examined and refined to maximise performance and efficiency. This process has seen the constant streamlining and development of the various strokes, the material and cut of an athlete's swimming costume and even the design of swimming pools themselves.

One relatively recent development in competitive swimming technique is the “track” start which differs from the conventional “grab” start by the positioning of one foot some distance behind the edge of the starting platform. The difficulty of this starting technique is greater than the grab. As a result, younger swimmers are initially taught the grab start and consequently they must relearn their race starts at a later stage when they are capable of performing the track start.

The object of the present invention is to overcome or ameliorate at least one of the disadvantages of the prior art or to provide a useful alternative thereto.

Accordingly, in a first aspect of the invention there is provided a starting aid for use in swimming comprising a platform with a leading edge, the platform being configured to be disposed with said leading edge adjacent to an edge of a swimming pool, and comprising a first surface extending back from said leading edge and upon which a swimmer can stand, and a further surface upwardly inclined with respect to said platform, for a swimmer to push against with the other foot whilst diving from the platform, the further surface being disposed behind the first surface so that the swimmers feet are positioned for a track start.

One advantage of such an aid is that it may assist younger swimmers whilst learning the track start. In a track start, as the athlete leans forward to grab the front of the starting platform, the heel of the back foot lifts up off the platform, reducing the athlete's stability. By providing an inclined surface towards the rear of the platform, full contact can be maintained for both feet making it simpler for younger swimmers safely to master this technique. A faster start may also be obtainable because the swimmer can push more effectively against the inclined surface.

In preferred forms, the angle of inclination of the surface is adjustable. This adjustment makes the aid flexible enough to cater for different individual's physique. Also, the degree of support provided by the surface may be gradually reduced by decreasing its inclination as the swimmer becomes more proficient at the track start. More preferably, additional flexibility may be provided by enabling adjustment of the distance of the surface behind the leading edge of the platform. In one preferred form, this may be achieved by configuring the surface to be provided on structure slidable along a track provided in the platform, where the track extends rearwardly from the leading edge of the platform. Alternatively the platform may be provided with an array of spaced recesses adapted to receive corresponding projections on structure providing a said inclined surface.

In another preferred form, the starting aid is adapted to enable its height above the surface of the pool to be varied. In yet another preferred form, the platform and the inclined surface are integrally formed. More preferably again, the aid may include a second inclined surface positioned forward of the first inclined surface and wherein the second inclined surface has a width less than that of the platform. The second inclined surface is preferably configured for removable attachment to the platform at or adjacent to either of the platform's lateral edges.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a starting aid for use in swimming comprising an inclined surface configured for attachment to a platform having a leading edge adjacent a pool edge such that said surface is located behind said leading edge and upwardly inclined with respect to said platform for a swimmer to push against with one foot whilst diving from the platform.

One advantage of this second aspect of the invention is that it is possible to retrofit a starting aid to an existing start platform.

A preferred embodiment of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the figures in which:

FIG. 1 shows a prior art starting platform;

FIG. 2 shows a swimmer in a conventional “grab” starting position;

FIG. 3 shows a swimmer preparing to start using the “track” starting position;

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a first embodiment of a starting aid according to the invention;

FIG. 5 shows the starting aid of FIG. 4 with a user adopting a “track” starting position;

FIG. 6 shows a second embodiment of a starting aid according to the invention;

FIG. 7 shows a third embodiment of a starting aid according to the invention; and

FIG. 8 shows a fourth embodiment of a starting aid according to the invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, a typical known starting platform comprises a frame 10 to be disposed at the side of the pool, and having a platform 12, a leading edge 14 of which in use is directly over the edge of the pool.

As seen in FIG. 2, in the “grab” start position the swimmers shoulders are vertically in line with his feet which are both positioned with toes adjacent the leading edge of the starting platform. In this position, the swimmer's centre of mass is over the toes, making it difficult to balance with negative effects on the explosiveness and speed of the start.

The “track” start differs from the grab start in that the swimmer's feet are staggered with a front foot adjacent the leading edge of the start platform and the other foot parallel to but behind the front foot. This is shown to good effect in FIG. 3. When the swimmer leans forward to grab the front of the platform, the swimmers centre of mass lies at some position between the two spaced feet offering greater stability.

However the track start requires a different technique to the grab start; the feet have to come from being at a distance from one another when on the block, to being together before entering the water, to gain a streamlined position. Perhaps because of this more demanding requirement, it has been found that a regular problem with track starts is that the back foot can slip when in the process of starting, causing a false start and possibly an injury.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, a starting aid according to the invention includes a platform 12, having a leading edge 14 which in use is located adjacent the edge of a swimming pool. The platform 12 is slightly upwardly inclined rewardly from its leading edge 14. Towards the rear of the platform is provided a surface 16 which is more steeply inclined than the platform 12.

As shown to advantage in FIG. 5, the inclined surface 16 provides support for a swimmer's rear foot when taking the track starting position. This added support increases the area of contact between the swimmers feet and the starting platform increasing stability. This extra surface area, and its inclination relative to the platform 12 also enables the swimmer to drive more strongly with the rear foot increasing the speed and airborne distance of a racing start.

The platform of FIG. 4 is a prototype of fixed height. In production versions it is envisaged that the height of the platform above the pool surface can be varied to achieve the same versatility as in conventional starting platforms. This is illustrated diagrammatically in FIG. 6. Height variation can be achieved by using interchangeable legs 18 of different lengths.

Whilst the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 to 6 have the inclined surface fixed with respect to the platform, other embodiments implement the inclined surface as a separate structure. In this fashion, the spacing of the surface 16 from the leading edge 14 can be varied.

In one form, such variable spacing is provided by way of a block 20 with pins 22 extending from a lower surface and an array of corresponding holes in the upper surface 24 of the platform as shown in FIG. 7. This principle may be developed so that the holes 24 are in the form of shaped recesses which engage correspondingly-shaped projections on the underside of the block 20, and lock the block more securely in position.

Alternatively, a longitudinal slide or track may be provided set into the surface of the platform. The block 20 or other inclined surface is mounted to slide along the track and a ratchet assembly is used to retain the block in a desired position.

The embodiment as shown in FIG. 7 has the advantage that, with minimal difficulty, it can be fitted to existing starting platforms simply by drilling the surface of the existing platform. This has obvious cost savings for existing facilities.

Future starting aids may include a second inclined surface for the front foot. In this way, swimmers would be able explosively to start with both feet in full contact with the starting platform in much the same manner as a 100 metre runner, especially if the platform is made longer. In such embodiments, the width of each inclined surface will be less than the width of the platform and releasable fastening means eg. as in FIG. 7 will enable the surfaces to be adjusted to accommodate the preferences and physiques of different swimmers, in particular whether the swimmer wishes to have his left or right foot to the rear.

The angle of the inclined surface or surfaces 16 can be made adjustable by configuring the block 20 to be adjustable in the same manner as are starting blocks for track athletes.

One simple way of achieving variable inclination in the embodiment of FIG. 7 is shown in FIG. 8. Here the block 20 is made of four plates 26, 28, 30, 32 pin-jointed (pivoted) together at their edges at 34, 36, 38. The pins 22 are carried by the plates 26, 32. The plate 28 provides the inclined surface 16, the inclination of which is adjusted by putting the pins 22 into the holes 24 in the surface 12 either closer together or further apart, as desired. Maximum inclination of the surface 16 is achieved when the angle between plates 28 and 30 is 90°.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to specific examples, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that it may be embodied in many other forms.

Each feature disclosed in this specification (which term includes the claims) and/or shown in the drawings may be incorporated in the invention independently of other disclosed and/or illustrated features.

Statements in this specification of the “objects of the invention” relate to preferred embodiments of the invention, but not necessarily to all embodiments of the invention falling within the claims.