One of the most overlooked and under-practiced parts of swimming fast is the kick. In particular, sprinters’ times are typically made or busted by how strong their kick is. Even the fastest distance swimmers have now developed exceptionally strong kicks. Strong legs come in very handy near the end of races as muscles start to fail and your stroke starts to fall apart. Engaging the legs can be the difference between finishing strong or grinding to a near halt as muscles fail and your body “ties up.”
Over the years I have been swimming Masters, I have noticed that many Masters swimmers are averse to kick sets. In fact, many teams rarely incorporate any kick into their workouts. Or, if they do, it is a minimal amount and many swimmers will either skip it entirely or wear fins and leisurely kick back and forth. For those of you out there looking to improve both your speed and your overall body health, I would encourage you to reconsider your position on kick sets and embrace them more often!
Incorporating kick sets into workouts does more than just give your shoulders a break while continuing to work other often-overlooked parts of your body. Having a strong flutter kick will help you become a better overall swimmer by giving you added propulsion, improved body position in the water, and adding power to your hip rotation. Further, kicking provides the opportunity to better train your lower body, which is largely under-utilized in swimming as compared to most land sports.
At a minimum, I would encourage everyone to add 10-20 minutes of dedicated kick time to each workout. Vary the kick workout between high-intensity kicking and long, low-intensity kicking. Some example kick sets to try out are:
- 15 x 50 free kick with board on 10 seconds rest like so:
25 fast, 25 cruise
Every 5th one all out
- Or 15 x 50 free kick with board on 10 seconds rest like so:
3 x through in groups of 5 like so: (50 EZ, 50 moderate, 50 hard, 50 EZ, 50 hard)
- 15 x 25 underwater streamline dolphin kick on 40 seconds rest
I am sure that many of you creative people can come up with fun sets for you and your teammates to do.
Don’t forget that one of the great aspects of kick sets when using kickboards is that one’s head is out of the water. This means that it gives us a somewhat rare opportunity in the sport of swimming to work out and socialize. Build your legs and your friendships at the same time by doing more kicking in practice!