2 May 2009

Australians make a flying start with new blocks

7:31 am on 2 May 2009

Australia's swimmers are being given the chance to pinch an early advantage over their international rivals by installing angled starting blocks, at the National Institute of Sport.

The sport's latest innovation to lower times features an adjustable rear footrest, similar to the system runners use, allowing swimmers to make a much faster getaway.

Swimming's world governing body FINA has approved the new blocks for use in international competition from next year.

The AIS head coach Shannon Rollason says improvements of up to a tenth of a second wouldn't be surprising because swimmers can push off more effectively with their back foot.

The blocks were trialled at a World Cup meet in Sweden last year and used as a display at the Olympic pool in Beijing.

And Australian officials have been given permission to use them at next month's 'Duel in the Pool' against Japan.