Have you ever noticed during your swimming lessons that the fastest kickers in the pool also tend to also be the fastest swimmers? It’s not an exact science, but next time you are at the pool have a look at the people in the faster lanes. For swim coaches with multiple lanes to observe (just like at our London Bridge sessions) it is clear to us that those with the strongest leg kick are usually the fastest swimmers.
It’s all about learning how to train theyourlegs within the stroke, overcome technical issues, get fitter and therefore faster. Your bike will not be impacted if you learn to kick correctly. The misconception is that you work the legs hard for propulsion. But if you look at the pictures, you see that we work the legs to reduce and restrict bad swim habits and avoid issues that create problems. Creating this much drag will slow your bike, because you will simply be exhausted.
First we unlearn the big kick! It’s logical that big and strong kicks should produce more momentum, but not when you’re kicking through water. Progress to the narrow, hidden, fast big toes brushing, small hip range, straight on the upsweep movement, bend on the down beat. Have a good think about the mechanics of your kick this week. If you were swimming head on towards a submerged camera and you reviewed your footage afterwards, your kick should not be visible.
Try some of these to mix up your kick training:
– 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
– FC full stroke with a small old fashioned flat float to keep kick small at the hips
– Pulling with a pull buoy at the ankles to add some endurance to the ‘core.’
– Static horizontal kicking holding the wall as active recovery between lengths. Feel the toes bubble at the surface.
– Hands on Glutes to think about the correct muscles lifting a straight leg back up to the surface.
– Add dryland to supplement and accelerate your kicking progress.
Why bother with all of this focus on your leg kick? In our experiences coaching swimming we know that a bad kick is devastating in terms of incorrect propulsion and higher energy costs. We know mechanically that the legs do a lot of damage in terms of drag and form. Toes pointing down, excessive two way pivot at the knee, and pedalling through the water all undo the work of your arms as they try to pull you forwards.
Correct your leg kick and you will certainly find that your swim training will become a whole lot easier.