Gary Hall: Swimming Myths Debunked (6)

Ten Swimming Myths Busted

Myth #6:When it comes to swimming fast, kicking is overrated.

Kicking is anything but overrated. As some of you have already learned, I believe that it is the power of the kick that separates the great swimmers from the not-so-great ones, more than anything else. But there is a problem with that notion.

First, if you have strong legs but have limited flexibility in your ankles and feet, becoming a strong kicker is a long-term project. You can develop more flexibility to improve your kicking by doing some of the dry land stretches shown on our latest Race Club DVD, “Life is Worth Swimming.” Next, be sure to really work your legs in practice.

A six beat kick serves four main functions:

1) Provide propulsion (laws of motion)
2) Provide lift (reduce frontal drag)
3) Act as part of the stabilizing force for your pull (increase distance per stroke)
4) Sustain a more constant speed (obey the law of inertia)

If you can’t kick fast, you aren’t going to get much propulsion from your legs, but a lot of propulsion still comes from the arms. You can, however, still get enough lift and counter-force for your arm pull, both of which are very worthwhile. So don’t give up on the kick. If you wear a wet suit in open water, you don’t have to worry about the lift part, but you still need the counter-force to improve your distance per stroke.

A two-beat kick can still provide the counter-force needed to create lift, and with using a lot less energy. Not a bad method for a distance swimmer who can’t kick as fast or a triathlete that wants to save their legs for the bike and run.

So here is my advice to you: Work your legs hard. Devote every 4th or 5th practice completely to your legs. And, unless you have no propulsion, always use a 6 beat kick. Getting your legs in really good shape will pay big dividends in your racing. Although “social kick” is a great time to enjoy your company, it is not the right way to develop a strong leg drive.

In fact, the best way to improve your kick technique and practice your streamline at the same time is by using the FINIS Alignment Kickboard, coupled with the FINIS Swimmer’s Snorkel. The combination of these products creates great body position for kicking and gets you more accustomed to being in a streamlined position. At The Race Club, all of our board kicking is done this way; whether it’s flutter, dolphin or breaststroke kick.

I am such a big fan of kicking, I took an old, but good song, It’s in His Kiss and changed the lyrics a bit and renamed the song, It’s in his Kick. One of our Race Club families from Buffalo, NY came down to the Keys to learn to swim and kick faster. I told them about the song, so they went home and recorded it on the link below. Hope you enjoy it.


Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.

The Race Club


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