Streamlines and Kicking Underwater
The streamlined body position in swimming focuses on moving your body through the water using the least amount of effort. This fluid movement also helps to generate speed. Thus, streamlining is a critical aspect of the sport. For example, swimming with improper body position will result in excess drag and a more difficult time getting to the wall. The underwater streamline has evolved tremendously in recent years and is characterized by a tight bodyline and fast, powerful kicks.
With the emergence of signature underwater kicks at the Olympics, streamlining off the walls has become almost a fifth stroke and if done properly, can be even faster than swimming. It is more evident in collegiate athletics as swimmers use a 25-yard course that requires more powerful turns than a long course pool. Athletes at the NCAAs have become notorious for kicking out to the 15-meter limit over the past few years, which has been devastating to the record books of some marquee events, like the 100 fly and 100 backstroke.
So how do you improve your underwater streamline? Like many other aspects of swimming, a great streamline simply requires the right technique and a fair amount of repetition. Here are some characteristics of a great streamline:
- Body is completely straight, but not tense
- Elbows straight and locked
- Head in between elbows, with ears being squeezed by biceps
- Shoulders shrugged upwards
- Ankles are together with your toes pointed
A common way to train with this body position is to practice kicking with your head down in the streamline position during a kick set. This is possible when using the Swimmer’sSnorkel to breathe and the AlignmentKickboard serves to hold your hands and arms up in the correct position.
The next step is to focus on the actual underwater kick. Most athletes choose to do a dolphin kick rather than a freestyle kick as they have found that it can generate more propulsion. Allow yourself to glide for a brief period when you push off of the wall, starting to kick only when you feel as if you are losing your forward momentum. Most swimmers find that a simple one-second count after pushing off the wall is optimum. Once this becomes second nature, it is helpful to set goals for how far you want to streamline off of every wall. If you new to underwater streamlining and kicking, a good goal would be to try and kick one dolphin kick off every wall in a practice. Perfecting effective streamlines does not happen overnight and it takes a great deal of discipline to become an underwater giant.
Here is a simple set to work on your underwater kicking:
Complete this set, 2x through:
4 x 50s, kicking in a streamline position with a snorkel on 1:30
1 x 100, with 2 underwater dolphin kicks off of every wall on 2:15
2 x 75s, with 3 underwater dolphin kicks off of every wall on 1:45
3 x 50s, with 4 underwater dolphin kicks off of every wall on 1:15
Take a minute break after the first round to catch your breath!
Struggling at first is normal but the key is to not give up. This is a process that can only be mastered through patience and persistence – underwater training challenges even the very best swimmers!