Useful Facts About Touch Pads & Precautionary Measures for Swimmers

A swimming Touch Pad is an automated electronic timing tool to precisely record a swimmer’s time, free from any type of error. Independent of the human reflexes to push a button, these touching pads can record time precisely up to hundredths of a second.

Working of Touch Pads:

  • Master invention by Dr. Bill Parkinson, professor of physics at University of Michigan's, these pads became a part of Olympics only after 1968.
  • These pads are ultra-thin with sensors that can even sense the minute touch of fingers of a swimmer. But, at the same time, are not at all sensitive to the splashing water.
  • When the sensors feel pressure on the touch of a swimmer’s body part, they get tripped. At the same time, computer receives the signal, records the accurate time and displays it on the screen.
  • The final touch time is also recorded in the similar way.
  • Even the split times are also recorded and displayed, every time when a swimmer touches the pool wall and takes a turn.

Types of Swimming Touch Pads:

  • Lane Touch Pads: The Portable Lane touch pads can be easily affixed on to the both ends of the pool and easily detached if there is no competition in the pool or pool cleaning or some maintenance work is going on.
  • Starting Block Pads: Endowed with pressure-sensitive sensors, Block pads record the time a swimmer leaves the block at the beginning of a swimming race. These are significant for relay swimming competitions. It keeps a check that the next swimmer doesn't leave the block prior to the arrival of the previous swimmer.

Dimensions of Touch Pads:

The recommended dimensions for the touch pads at the national and international competitions are:

  • Width - 2.4 meters, or 7 feet 10.48 inches
  • Height - 0.9 meters, or 2 feet and 11.43 inches
  • Thickness - 0.01 meters plus or minus 0.002 meters, or .39 inches plus or minus .07 inches

It should be taken care of that the pads don’t have any sharp edges.

Installation of Touch Pads:

Installation of Touch pads should be done in the middle of the lanes and should be 0.3 meters above and 0.6 meters below the water. There should be a black border of about 25-inch, or 9.84-inch.

Precautions to be Taken While Using Touch Pads:

  • There is no need to push the buttons in the beginning or end or turns, if touch pads are being used.
  • As soon as the computer receives signal via the flash of light at the start of the race and when the swimmer ends the race by touching the pads, it records and displays the timing of all the competent swimmers. Beware that no flash photography is permitted near the swimming pool as the computer records time from the flash of light at the start of the race.
  • The swimmers need to push the touch pads, a little harder and that too at appropriate time.
  • Take care that you push the same touch pads every time.
  • Always review the working of touch pads prior to swimming meets.
  • Touch the yellow part of the touch pad and the black casing on the top, as yellow part only records the timings.
  • The swimmer should positively touch the pads at the turns and finish. He/she should also keep in mind the number of turns taken, for a safer side, in case the electronic device fails.
  • To prevent the pads from tripping again and again, the swimmer should rearm the system as there may be too many touches as relay swimmers move out from the pool.

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