Posted on December 04, 2014

OMEGA assumes its role as Official Timekeeper once again at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha, Qatar this weekend. The brand has long been involved in the development of timekeeping technology and equipment for a number of high profile sports and this weekend it officially introduces underwater lap counters and backstroke ledges, both of which have been developed specifically for the swimmers’ benefit.

Backstroke Ledge

The backstroke ledge improves the start push and trajectory of the swimmers when they enter the water. The angle made by the legs in relation to the water surface during the final push off the wall is greater, and as a result, the swimmer‘s feet travel the path during the start phase of flight with less contact to the water. The height of the backstroke ledge can be adjusted to several different positions using a manual rotating system. Its grip mechanism is covered with an anti-skid surface, thus providing more confidence to the swimmers as they enter the water.

OMEGA brand ambassador and twelve-time Olympic medallist Natalie Coughlin and seven-time Olympic medallist and backstroke specialist Aaron Peirsol played important roles in the development of this new equipment. Their experience and success as backstroke swimmers allowed them to make valuable contributions to the conceptualisation of the backstroke ledge. They were also involved in the final stages of its creation.

OMEGA serves as Official Timekeeper 2 [].jpgNatalie Coughlin said, “I’m really excited about the backstroke ledge. It takes the guessing out of the start. When a backstroke swimmer is about to start on a slippery vertical wall, the last thing he or she wants to worry about is slipping. Having the backstroke ledge is great because it allows the swimmer to focus on the power of the start.” Perhaps most significantly, because the backstroke ledge allows the swimmers to increase the power and force of their pushoffs, they are able to achieve their best performances.

Asked if she thought the equipment would contribute to faster finishing times, Natalie said: “I definitely think it has the opportunity to make times faster. Sometimes the touchpad is a little slippery; speaking from my own experience, I’ve been a little hesitant on the start. The backstroke ledge eliminates that slight, slight hesitation.”

Lap Counter

Freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke swimmers will be able to take advantage of the lap counters that will be placed at the bottom of the pool. There is one lap counter for each lane - positioned on the opposite side of the finish – which counts down the number of laps remaining for the competitor swimming in that lane.

OMEGA serves as Official Timekeeper 3 [].jpgPreviously, officials standing at the edge of the pool next to the starting blocks of each lane would display the number of remaining laps to the swimmer, meaning that the competitor would have to shift his or her attention from the pool. The lap counters, with their highly visible digital screens, ensure that the swimmers can concentrate on their technique and on their position in the race while remaining aware of the distance they have yet to swim. Unlike other pieces of equipment or technology that OMEGA has introduced in the past, the lap counters will have no effect on the timekeeping or the data-handling of the races and have been created solely for the purpose of improving the race experience of each swimmer. 

The 12th FINA Swimming World Championships

The FINA Swimming World Championships, held in even years, is a five-day short-course tournament where the world’s fastest swimmers compete for a total of 138 medals. Among the 900 swimmers participating in 46 events (34 individual and 12 relays) are brand ambassadors and Olympic medallists Chad Le Clos and Natalie Coughlin. Chad recently won gold medals in each of the 27 events he participated in at the FINA Swimming World Cup and was named the Male Overall Winner for the second straight year and the third time in four years.

Natalie has won twelve Olympic medals in her career, is among the most successful female American Olympians of all time and has a collection of twenty world championship medals. At the Mussi Lombardi Femiano meet in Italy in November, Natalie set yet another American record when she clocked 58.55 in the 100m individual medley. OMEGA looks forward to seeing what its ambassadors accomplish in Doha this weekend.