Kicking while swimming is a key component to moving your body forward in the water and having a proper body line. Underwater dolphin kicking in the streamline position has emerged as a “fifth stroke”, due to its incredible speed. For these two reasons, kicking is a main training focus for improving your swimming. A key aspect to a fast and propulsive kick is ankle flexibility, the more flexible your ankles are the more water you can catch with your foot. Consequently, if you choose to not work on ankle flexibility, it can actually inhibit your swimming. The closer your foot is to a right angle with your leg, during the downward portion of your kick you are actually creating a backward force, slowing down your swimming
There are a few very simple ways to work on your ankle flexibility, however it is very important to slowly build up your ankle flexibility, pushing your ankles too far too soon can lead to discomfort or injury. First, before or after a workout, you can do a basic stretch of leaning your against the wall and pushing your ankle in. A more advanced ankle stretch is sitting on your ankles and leaning back, slowly working on moving further and further back. Secondly, you can work in kicking or swimming with fins and monofins into you work out. Kicking with fins mimics the desired effect of flexible ankles, by using the flexibility and surface area of the rubber to maximize forward propulsion, all while stretching your ankles with each kick. Also, they make it easier to work on your underwater dolphin kick, which not only provides a great core workout out, but help you with your underwater streamlining.
If you want to use fins, the FINIS Zoomer Gold’s short rigid blade allows for fast kick with limited resistance, but the rigidity helps flex the ankle. Another alternative is to use the monofin to work in ankle flexibility and speed during a workout. You can mix up your set by kicking with your monofin on your front, back or side for a more varied workout. Each direction works a different part of your body, but still focuses on stretching out your ankles. For different levels of flexibility, the FINIS Foil Monofin is a beginner friendly monofin due to the rubber blade and foot pocket which allows for more freedom of motion and less ankle flexing, however for the more advanced swimmer the FINIS Shooter Monofin’s rigid fiberglass blade provide a much stiffer system which can produce greater speed but requires greater ankle flexibility.
Example Monofin or Fins Kicking Set:
4 x 25s on 40, kicking out as far out underwater dolphin kicks as possible
3 x 100s on 1:50 moderate speed, 1 kicking on your back, 1 kicking on your side, 1 kicking on your stomach
2 x 50s on 1:00, kicking as fast as you can go
1 x 100 on 2:00 easy kicking
Total Yardage: 1,200