The sport of swimming continues to grow and with that we are seeing an increasing amount of television coverage. From the Olympic Games to the NCAA Championships, swimming fans can now tune to their local sports station and watch the meet. With that in mind, it is particularly important that we, as pool designers, continue to adapt to ensure that the pools we create lend themselves well to being filmed, while also continuing to provide the fastest and most competitive environments.
For instance, a growing trend involves removing backstroke flags when not in use. This provides a better view for spectators and creates a clear path for television cameras to capture the action. Designing with this trend in mind means altering backstroke flag and post specifications to accommodate cameras. For instance, backstroke flags and posts that are designed to be easily removed or quickly adjusted to prevent sagging might take precedence over another product. Or it may be that flags and posts that are more aesthetically pleasing on camera need to be selected. A designer’s ultimate goal should be to ensure swimmers’ stroke counts don’t change from warmup to race, regardless of the flags being removed or adjusted during the meet.
Backstroke flags come in two types of materials: nylon and vinyl. Nylon flags can be used for both indoor and outdoor installations, and can span up to 60 feet (eight lanes). However, due to their weight, they are not recommended for larger spans, as they can sag and cause deflection in posts. Vinyl flags are generally more durable, but are recommended for indoor use only. They can span lengths of 100+ feet and can be used for 50-meter cross course purposes. Vinyl flags are more attractive, especially when identification and logos are used. Counsilman-Hunsaker makes sure to supply its facilities with the appropriate backstroke flag dependent on pool type, pool configuration, and aesthetic appeal.
While backstroke flags are important, so are the stanchion posts and cable that support them. Counsilman-Hunsaker recommends 8-foot backstroke stanchion posts. These posts are designed to support the flags, while also allowing them to be removed for filming purposes. Anchors are also often used for various course configurations to allow flags to be moved when altering course setup. Counsilman-Hunsaker also recommends utilizing a stainless-steel cable with a take-up reel and ring end fitting on each respective end. This cable allows for the precise tightening of backstroke flags, and provides the necessary support to reduce sagging.
As the sport continues to evolve, we hope to partner with competitive swimming leaders to ensure owners are educated and receive the best products when building new aquatic facilities. As designers, it is important to consider the little details that can make a pool stand out for a growing audience of spectators.