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2012-02-13 9:05 AM

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Subject: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

I was at the Y last night and working on my swim. 

I know I need to practice, my 100m times are about 2:30.

Anyway I know my kick really sucks, when I try a kickboard it can take me over 1 minute to get across the 25m pool.

Is it worthwhile to work on my kick or just stick with improving my arms/form?

p.s. when at the pool yesterday I saw a dude who was way faster than me, I chatted him up and he is a triathlete and he agreed to eyeball my form....he said it looked ok and nothing obviously "wrong" with it.



2012-02-13 9:24 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

I'm not a pro, or a coach.....so that being said.

 

I've heard people talk about when doing long distance swimming, it should be your upper body doing the work.  Now for me, I've just started working on my 2 beat kick this past month, which means I'm pretty much just using my legs for body position in the water.....and wouldn't you know....I'm getting quite a bit quicker.

So I think you would best be served working on your overall form and technique.  Don't waste precious training time working on your kick.  YMMV

2012-02-13 9:25 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Yeah, kicking with a board, sans fins, can take forever.

It's worth doing a few kick sets with a board but it shouldn't be the focus of your swim workouts. With triathlon swimming my main goal is to 1) make sure my feet and legs aren't dragging. Keep them near the surface of the water with short small kicks. And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

Another kick set/drill I like to do is to kick on one side of your body with one arm extended (the arm closest to the bottom of the pool). Count 6-10 beats and then take stroke and rotate to the other side. This focuses on kick, rotation, breathing position, and arm extension. Plus you'll get to the other side of the pool faster.



Edited by Barkeep 2012-02-13 9:26 AM
2012-02-13 9:29 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Here's my non-professional response:  While having a strong kick can be beneficial, it's not what swimming for a triathlete is all about.  With the times you mentioned, I would say it's probably more important to work on your form and overall swim fitness before getting too involved on your kick.

However, I'll also say that there's a few drills I like to do that work solely on my kick, and the reason I do them is more for a break between sets and a break for my arms than for improving my kick.  But as a side benefit it probably helps.  Go ahead and do some sets with a kickboard and just kicking if you want to give your arms a break halfway through a workout.  Or, get a set of fins (or without I suppose) and do this:  Kick off and swim about half the length of the pool under water, at least a foot or two below the surface.  Then come up and roll on your back and kick yourself the rest of the way with your arms at your side or above your head.  Then rest for the same amount of time it took you complete that.  Repeat going the other way for a total of 8 times.  Concentrate on long deep breaths while resting, it will feel easy for the first few, then by the end you'll be struggling to make the underwater portion without coming up for air.

2012-02-13 9:34 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

I would recommend getting a pair of fins. I always do a warmup 200m freestyle and then do 200m with my fins and a kickboard.  It's a fun feeling flying through the water just kicking, and it's actually a great workout for your legs.

But as the others have said, having a strong kick isn't super important in Tri, I think it's more about having your legs not slow you down than it is about getting a lot of propulsion from them.

edit...

Oh yeah, and swim a few laps freestyle with your fins on.  Talk about strapping a rocket to your feet.  It doesn't help you in any way get better, but it sure does feel good to do a few laps feeling like Michael Phelps.  Cool



Edited by tuwood 2012-02-13 9:36 AM
2012-02-13 9:37 AM
in reply to: #4044263

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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

This is another myth of the triathlon community.  The bottom line is the only time this might ever be true is on race day.  So, dragging your feet around every other time you are swimming to save them for a few events a year is not conducive to either fast swimming or good form.  Develop your kick in the pool, be it a two beat or a six beat.  But, talking yourself into saving your legs is a cop out.  Some of the best triathletes I know are six beaters.  



2012-02-13 9:52 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
H20 Killer - 2012-02-13 9:37 AM

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

This is another myth of the triathlon community.  The bottom line is the only time this might ever be true is on race day.  So, dragging your feet around every other time you are swimming to save them for a few events a year is not conducive to either fast swimming or good form.  Develop your kick in the pool, be it a two beat or a six beat.  But, talking yourself into saving your legs is a cop out.  Some of the best triathletes I know are six beaters.  

I'm not an advocate for dragging your feet as you swim, triathlete or not. Quite the opposite. If a swimmer is not kicking then their legs are dragging in the water which is counterproductive and eludes to my first point. For some, a six-beat kick might be necessary to keep there body position horizontal. My intent was to say that outside of a 50/100/200 pool competition, a fierce kick is not going to make it or break it for you, in the pool or in triathlon competition.



Edited by Barkeep 2012-02-13 9:54 AM
2012-02-13 9:54 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
H20 Killer - 2012-02-13 11:37 PM

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

This is another myth of the triathlon community.  The bottom line is the only time this might ever be true is on race day.  So, dragging your feet around every other time you are swimming to save them for a few events a year is not conducive to either fast swimming or good form.  Develop your kick in the pool, be it a two beat or a six beat.  But, talking yourself into saving your legs is a cop out.  Some of the best triathletes I know are six beaters.  

I don't think it's even true on race day. Unless you're doing breaststroke or churning out a kick like Yang on the last 100 of a 1500, you WILL NOT, CAN NOT blow out your legs on the swim part of a triathlon.

As to the original poster ... it really isn't a matter of working on your kick, as that's a part of the total package of body rotation and left/right swimming.

Honestly, it's very difficult to help you unless we can get a video of you swimming (got a digital camera and a friend?) ... in which case it will be a lot easier to point you in the right direction. Your kick may actually be fine and it's other areas that need more work, upon which improving your kick becomes a whole lot easier.

2012-02-13 10:02 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM

Yeah, kicking with a board, sans fins, can take forever.

It's worth doing a few kick sets with a board but it shouldn't be the focus of your swim workouts. With triathlon swimming my main goal is to 1) make sure my feet and legs aren't dragging. Keep them near the surface of the water with short small kicks. And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

Another kick set/drill I like to do is to kick on one side of your body with one arm extended (the arm closest to the bottom of the pool). Count 6-10 beats and then take stroke and rotate to the other side. This focuses on kick, rotation, breathing position, and arm extension. Plus you'll get to the other side of the pool faster.

x2 on this drill.  I also have a poor kick, I had video taken a week ago and am getting a coach consultation this week.  What the coach told me a week ago was to try the one arm extended drill as stated above and also to kick on my back, with hands at my sides I believe.  I notice that I kick much faster on my back than on my belly.

Don't stress over it, but do try and improve your kick, it will help you be a better swimmer, in our out of the open water.  Keep working on body position, form, etc. with increased volume you will start to get faster, perfect form or not.  Seek the help of others as much as possible. they know more than us!  It's tough for us on this site to help you so keep seeking advice of those who can watch you swim.  I paid $45 for an underwater swim analysis, hoping is was well worth it.  What I will probably do is poist a link to that video so some BT swim gurus can chime in.  I know it will be ugly but sometimes to truth will be ugly.

2012-02-13 10:05 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

When I kick, without fins, using a kickboard I also go very, very slow.  The kickboard drops my legs down in the water and the kick becomes less propulsive.  I think if I worked on the kickboard all the time I could get the hang of it, but instead I found that kicking on my back is better.  I had to do this after my shoulder surgery because my arm had to stay at my side (no board!) and the only way I could kick for an hour straight was to just lay on my back and go to town.

My kick went from worthless to OK.  And I'm seeing a great boost in my swim performance now that I'm back to swimming.  As an example...this morning when I got too tired during long threshold sets to keep my stroke rate, I had to slow down my stroke rate by adding extra glide in my stroke.  But because I actually have a propulsive kick now I was able to use that kick to maintain my momentum while gliding.  As a result, while RESTING, I only slowed about 1 second per 25. 

Work on your kick a little bit every time you swim.  Make it a part of your warmup and do 200-400.  Do it with or without a board.  You can turn on your back like I do.  But over time it will improve your swimming.  Even in the longer stuff.

 

2012-02-13 10:10 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Is it worthwhile to work on my kick or just stick with improving my arms/form?

The answer?: both.

You're not going to be able to truly fix either unless you can incrementally "fix" both of them mostly at the same time.

And with your swimming and kicking speeds, even though the other triathlete couldn't see it, you've probably got some major technique flaws. You really should try to get help from someone smart and experienced. If you want some help on how to find and screen for a decent swim coach, I posted a few suggestions here (post #4026276).

Good luck, your persistence will pay off.



2012-02-13 10:13 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
H20 Killer - 2012-02-13 7:37 AM

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

This is another myth of the triathlon community.  The bottom line is the only time this might ever be true is on race day.  So, dragging your feet around every other time you are swimming to save them for a few events a year is not conducive to either fast swimming or good form.  Develop your kick in the pool, be it a two beat or a six beat.  But, talking yourself into saving your legs is a cop out.  Some of the best triathletes I know are six beaters.  

x1  There are no short cuts to being a good swimmer but everyone has different goals and desires on what they want to achieve with the time they have available.  I have found I can pretty easily tell who is good at just kicking by watching them just swim freestyle.  Not by how many kicks, or how hard they kick, but by form that develops by good kicking.

I was the absolutely worst at kicking a few years back. In fact, I think I would almost go backwards.  After a few weeks of lots of kicking, something just clicked.  In our masters group, we had some guys that weren't very good at kicking a few month ago.  They also were triathletes and had the mind set you don't use your legs........    Well after we talked them into a bunch of kick drills, they have become a lot better, and A LOT faster in freestyle.  It isn't about putting more effort in kicking, or saving muscules; think of developing a good kick as building efficency.

2012-02-13 10:25 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:52 AM For some, a six-beat kick might be necessary to keep there body position horizontal. My intent was to say that outside of a 50/100/200 pool competition, a fierce kick is not going to make it or break it for you, in the pool or in triathlon competition.

Huh?  Having to use a six beat kick to stay horizontal?  Where in the world did you hear that?  No one has to have a six beat kick to stay horizontal.  A consistent six beat kick takes a long long long time to develop.  Anyone who can six beat can two beat and stay perfectly horizontal.  

You have to have a great kick for every single distance in the pool, period.  It might not be a six beat but it had better be a good kick.  With kids regularly going under 4:30 in the 500 the kick is super important.  And, yes, a kick makes or breaks most distances.  

It seems that in the swim, triathletes justify all sorts of short cuts.  That simply is self defeating.  Train like a swimmer in the pool just as you train like a runner/biker on the road.  

2012-02-13 10:35 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
Barkeep - 2012-02-13 10:52 AM
H20 Killer - 2012-02-13 9:37 AM

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

This is another myth of the triathlon community.  The bottom line is the only time this might ever be true is on race day.  So, dragging your feet around every other time you are swimming to save them for a few events a year is not conducive to either fast swimming or good form.  Develop your kick in the pool, be it a two beat or a six beat.  But, talking yourself into saving your legs is a cop out.  Some of the best triathletes I know are six beaters.  

I'm not an advocate for dragging your feet as you swim, triathlete or not. Quite the opposite. If a swimmer is not kicking then their legs are dragging in the water which is counterproductive and eludes to my first point. For some, a six-beat kick might be necessary to keep there body position horizontal. My intent was to say that outside of a 50/100/200 pool competition, a fierce kick is not going to make it or break it for you, in the pool or in triathlon competition.

I think if you are kicking like crazy because you are trying to compensate for poor form you can definitely tire your legs. Speaking from last year's experience here, unfortunately. Working with a coach this year I have (almost!) fixed my form and kick and the improvements are dramatic. Being efficient in the water can only be a good thing, both for speed and use of energy. Plus it feels SO MUCH BETTER to swim properly and not thrash around.

2012-02-13 10:44 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

I think there needs to be some clarification about kicking.

Do you need to do a lot of isolated kicking to be a fast distance swimmer? 

No.

Do you need to kick hard and fast to be a fast distance swimmer? 

No.

But do you need to know how to have a fast and propulsive kick (when you do isolated kicking, or when swimming) to be a fast distance swimmer? 

Yes. 

That skill (knowing how to kick fast and being able to do it when called upon) will help you better use your regular distance kick for good buoyancy and proper balance (and for speed management) in a good distance freestyle stroke, and especially in open water.

2012-02-13 11:33 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
I'll put it this way, I haven't seen a world record broken/medal won in the last 10 years where the kick wasn't an essential element, if not THE essential element, along with suberb turns.  Yang's kick on his last 100 was incredible.  Remember, he was behind WR pace at the 1400 before he put the kick in.


2012-02-13 11:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
datlas - 2012-02-13 9:05 AM

I was at the Y last night and working on my swim. 

I know I need to practice, my 100m times are about 2:30.

Anyway I know my kick really sucks, when I try a kickboard it can take me over 1 minute to get across the 25m pool.

Is it worthwhile to work on my kick or just stick with improving my arms/form?

p.s. when at the pool yesterday I saw a dude who was way faster than me, I chatted him up and he is a triathlete and he agreed to eyeball my form....he said it looked ok and nothing obviously "wrong" with it.

Hey,

First off if you are swimming 2:30s then you have some pretty big form issues - your tri buddy isn't right there.  Having a kick that takes you a minute to do one length is a sign you need to get a good lesson on kick form.  It is important - even if it isn't a major propulsor in tri swimming it sets a lot of your tempo and form. 

BTW, 25m pools are pretty rare.  You sure it isn't yards?

2012-02-13 11:52 AM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

H20 Killer - 2012-02-13 11:33 AM I'll put it this way, I haven't seen a world record broken/medal won in the last 10 years where the kick wasn't an essential element, if not THE essential element, along with suberb turns.  Yang's kick on his last 100 was incredible.  Remember, he was behind WR pace at the 1400 before he put the kick in.

Since it has been alluded to here a few times, here is the swim.  Amazing. 

2012-02-13 11:55 AM
in reply to: #4044213

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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

Thanks for the tips/suggestions.

I know I need to work on my form and likely my endurance.

I am a cyclist and have aerobic capacity to burn but clearly form is not ideal.

I am going to take a few private lessons at the Y next month and hope that will identify what about my form needs improvement. 

I also probably need to increase my intensity as my 2:30 for 100m is in zone 2.

I just checked the website and the pool is definitely 25 METERS and not yards.  Isn't this the "standard" length for most pools anyway??

Doug



Edited by datlas 2012-02-13 12:06 PM
2012-02-13 12:45 PM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
reecealan - 2012-02-13 9:02 AM

Barkeep - 2012-02-13 9:25 AM

Yeah, kicking with a board, sans fins, can take forever.

It's worth doing a few kick sets with a board but it shouldn't be the focus of your swim workouts. With triathlon swimming my main goal is to 1) make sure my feet and legs aren't dragging. Keep them near the surface of the water with short small kicks. And 2) Save leg strength/energy for the bike and run.  This means just doing enough to keep your legs at the surface.

Another kick set/drill I like to do is to kick on one side of your body with one arm extended (the arm closest to the bottom of the pool). Count 6-10 beats and then take stroke and rotate to the other side. This focuses on kick, rotation, breathing position, and arm extension. Plus you'll get to the other side of the pool faster.

x2 on this drill.  I also have a poor kick, I had video taken a week ago and am getting a coach consultation this week.  What the coach told me a week ago was to try the one arm extended drill as stated above and also to kick on my back, with hands at my sides I believe.  I notice that I kick much faster on my back than on my belly.

Don't stress over it, but do try and improve your kick, it will help you be a better swimmer, in our out of the open water.  Keep working on body position, form, etc. with increased volume you will start to get faster, perfect form or not.  Seek the help of others as much as possible. they know more than us!  It's tough for us on this site to help you so keep seeking advice of those who can watch you swim.  I paid $45 for an underwater swim analysis, hoping is was well worth it.  What I will probably do is poist a link to that video so some BT swim gurus can chime in.  I know it will be ugly but sometimes to truth will be ugly.



The real value of this drill is that it allows you to focus on balance. When you do this ddrill your body should be horizontal in the water. If a line were drawn through your spine it should be parallel to the surface and the hips (the high side hip) should be "kissing" the surface of the water. Sometimes you can feel this as a cold patch of air on your hips.

If you are not in this position while drilling then you're not getting maximum benefit...even if you use the drill as an opportunity to practice kicking.
2012-02-13 5:13 PM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day

I (and apparently very common in runner/cyclists) bend my legs too much when kicking.  My coach has me focus on trying to keep my legs straight and in my mind I try 'not to kick' - instinctively I am kicking but it really is just for position.  My legs are very close to the surface, i'm not a dragger.

However when doing a kick set with a board I am the fastest in the squad!  If only I could translate that into my freestyle stroke!

Anyway the technique we use is to kick like you're flicking off a loose sock.



2012-02-13 8:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Dumb Swim Question of the Day
I think the question of kicking and efficiency can be simplified a little bit more.

Efficiency is measured by how much of your energy input goes into forward movement (output). if your kick moves you backwards as many "runners kicks" do, then you actually have negative efficiency in your kick. Add that kick to any swim and it's going to make your swim less efficient.

An effective kick that moves you forward is an efficient kick, but the overall efficiency is likely less than the efficiency of swimming with a pull bouy (which one makes you more tired moving a tthe same speed?)

Adding an efficient kick may make you faster, but it doesn't necessarily make your swimming more efficient.

Everyone should learn how to kick efficiently, otherwise you're wasting lots of energy. THen you can worry about 2 beat, 6 beat and when you want to use what.
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