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Swimming Pool Backstroke Flags

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Backstroke Flags Explained

Swim Flags are essential pool equipment, recommended for aquatics programs hosting swim practices, lap swimming, or swim meets. They are useful for swimmers, coaches, and aquatics directors. Read on to learn what you need to know.

How Swimmers Use Swimming Flags

Generally speaking, pool flags alert swimmers to their whereabouts in the pool. Additionally, flags have specific uses important to athlete practice and competition:

Perfecting Backstroke Turns & Finishes

  • Stroke Count Analysis: Perfecting flip turns and finishes requires swimmers to determine their stroke count, calculating how many strokes it takes to swim from swim flags to pool wall. For an accurate count, I recommend starting from the 15 meter mark, reaching your stroke cadence, and then beginning your count from the flagline.
  • Perfecting Backstroke Turns & Finishes: Once a swimmer determines their flag to wall stroke count, they can work to perfect finishes and turns. When teaching turns, I recommend that swimmers with a 4 stroke finish count use a 3 stroke turn count. Starting at the flags, count 1-2-3, roll, and pull yourself into a flip turn. That last stroke is crucial to maintaining momentum, so don’t let if fall lifelessly to your side. Grab water and push it down to your toes, propelling you into your turn.

Lane Number Orientation

Many programs choose to add lane numbers to flags, streamlining competition by allowing swimmers to double check lane assignments from the starting blocks.

What Aquatic Centers Should Know About Swimming Flags

Flag Location and Anchoring

Pool Stanchion

Pool Flag Stanchion

Backstroke flags are usually strung between stanchions, sturdy metal posts anchored to the pool deck using slip anchors. Whether swimmers are using short course yard pools or long course meter pools, they rely on colorful swim flags to determine their distance from the lane end wall. Flag lines are less commonly anchored directly to facility walls, usually in cases where tying to stanchions isn’t possible.

Flags and pool stanchions are stationed 5 meters (in the case of long and short course meters courses) or 5 yards (in the case of short course yards courses) away from end of course, to create a standard for swimmers using stroke counts to optimize turns, perfect race finishes, and avoid ramming into the pool wall!

Sliding stanchion collars can be added to quickly and easily change the height of pool flags.

Pool Flag Options

Pool Flags

Vinyl Swimming Pool Flags

Backstroke flags are offered in a choice of materials. Flag material selection is based on the needs of the program, and whether your pool is indoor or outdoor.

For Indoor Pools Only: Vinyl and Plastic Flags

Kiefer’s Vinyl or Plastic Pool Flags are sturdy, durable, and recommended for indoor pools. Plastic flags are pre-strung in 45 foot or 100 foot lengths. Vinyl flags offer a cleaner look and can be customized to specific dimensions / aesthetics of your pool, and can be personalized with logos, team name, and lane numbers.

For Both Outdoor and Indoor Pools: Nylon Flags

Kiefer also offers Nylon Backstroke Flags, made from heavy-duty woven nylon pennants pre-strung in 45 foot lengths, and are used for both indoor or outdoor facilities.

Don’t Forget Recall Stanchions

When adding flags, keep in mind that competitive swimming programs require more than just swimming flags and backstroke stanchions. To host competitions, you will also need recall stanchions. Recall stanchions allow meet officials to easily drop a false start line, alerting swimmers of a false start and sending them back to the wall for restart.

Lane Ropes and 15M Markers

Kiefer likes to help! You may also like our posts on Restringing Racing Lanes and our explanation of the 15M resurfacing marker.



Do you have any other questions or creative uses for swimming flags? Please share your comments!

About Emily Milak

Emily Milak is a lifetime competitive swimmer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. Emily is a US National Team champion, NCAA champion, and USMS champion with extensive coaching experience. She is a product development consultant at Kiefer.

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