Have you ever noticed at the pool the fastest kickers tend to also be the fastest swimmers? not an exact science but next time if/when you are at the pool have a look at the people in the faster lanes. For us who coach, with multiple lanes to observe ie our London Bridge session it is clear that the faster kickers for the most part are also in the faster two lanes <lanes 3&4, 4 being top lane>.
So we know a bad kick is devastating in terms of incorrect propulsion <downwards> and higher energy costs. We know mechanically the legs do so much damage. Toes pointing down, excessive two way pivot at the knee, pedalling through the water all undo the work of the arms as they try to pull you forwards. Correct this and swimming will become a whole lot easier.
But what about the difference between lanes 3&4 <Lanes where the swim speeds are closer? ie at London Bridge where we have 4 lanes and can spot trends a little easier> What is it about the better kick of lane 4 <mechanics, efficiency, speed and propulsion> that adds speed? Don’t panic this is not for everyone and we are not trying to exhaust your legs for the bike. Train the legs within the stroke, get fitter, and so faster. Bike will not be impacted.
Coach Gary Hall who I have a lot of time for suggests “ Improving your freestyle kicking technique will virtually guarantee that you will swim freestyle faster and there is no better way to accomplish this than to incorporate creative freestyle kicking sets into your swim training program. The speed of the freestyle kick is the baseline speed for your freestyle. The higher the baseline speed (kick speed), the faster you will swim, after adding your pulling motion and body rotation.
First we unlearn this ! if you do suffer from this kind of kick please email me as I have a fins based solution to help remedy this big problem within swimming.
Progress to the narrow, hidden, fast big toes brushing, small hip range <think pendulum, a tiny movement at the hip is sufficient to keep it small at the feet> straight on the upsweep movement, bend on the down beat…have a think about the mechanics of your kick this week.
Try some of these to mix up your kick training <within FC and isolated legs only>
Single Fin can be useful for the leg flick on the down beat
Fins pointing down to get a feel for doing it really wrong <just a few kicks in each of the two positions>
FC full stroke with a small old fashioned flat float to keep kick small at the hips
Pulling with a pull buoy to add some endurance to the ‘core.’
Static horizontal kicking holding the wall as active recovery between lengths
Hands on Glutes to think about the correct muscles lifting a straight leg back up to the surface.
Add dryland to supplement and accelerate –