The starting block is one of the most eye-catching pieces of swimming pool equipment and is a feature that contributes towards highlighting the style of the whole pool. Therefore, the design of the starting block is an element that is at least as important as its practicality, reliability and durability.
It is above all for this reason that this element of “interior pool design” has undergone such considerable change over the years. From the first models made of fibreglass or coated sheet metal, increasingly complex and refined versions have developed.
Patentverwag, the leading company in Italy in the market of swimming pool equipment, has played a vital role in the evolution of starting blocks for at least twenty-five years.
The first models had simple shapes and, basically, they had only to comply with standards.
Later on, the problems and requirements of design came to the fore.
The load-bearing structure developed. From a simple parallelepipedon made of coated sheet metal, a highly advanced mirror polished stainless steel column support has evolved.
The screws securing the block to the floor were initially visible, but have now been moved inside the block support for reasons of appearance and safety.
From a simple fibreglass rectangle, the diving platform has become a refined feature injection moulded in ABS (acryl-butadiene-styrene) provided with a non-slip surface marked on the area where the athlete prepares to dive into the pool.
The starting blocks are basically of two types. The first is the “low” type that is fitted on the head wall and the “high” type that is secured to the floor around the pool and which, during competitions, must be fitted with a piece of equipment known as a “turning plate”.
The high type has a projecting step to enable the athlete to climb onto the starting block more easily. It is a step with a non-slip surface that can be removed to gain access to the points inside that secure the block itself. Finally, Patentverwag has fitted the diving platform with an adjustable stainless steel support that enables the block to be installed correctly on the edge of the pool.
In fact the regulations provide that the diving platform and the grip must be perfectly aligned compared to an ideal vertical plane coinciding with the side of the pool or the head wall.
Patentverwag Italia produces between 600 and 700 starting blocks a year for installation in hundreds of public swimming pools, as well as fitting many of the high blocks with the relative turning plate, an essential accessory for competitions.