Monthly Archives: June 2015

Underwater Kicking: Some Numbers

UW kick

These days everybody knows about that underwater kicking is a fast and necessary aspect of swimming. And we all know that the fastest swimmers generally have incredible underwater kick speeds and distances. But what surprises me over and over is the general lack of numbers involved with this knowledge.

How fast is it? How long can top underwater speeds be maintained. What’s the optimal breakout point? What’s the speed difference between underwater kicking and swimming.

I’ve done some tests on my own swimmers, viewed a ridiculous number of videos, and have done some research to try to come up with some of these answers. So far, just for backstroke.

Underwater Speeds

The key to underwater kicking is that the swimmer is not generating speed, but merely trying to maintain speed. This is an important distinction, as it affects how the body should move. (For more on this, see the second half of my post, More Than You Want to Know About Underwater Kicking).

There are two other things to keep in mind with underwater kicking:

  • underwater kicking at its fastest is slightly faster than freestyle swimming
  • underwater kicking speed cannot be maintained for long

Put these two things together and we can start to understand the underwater strategy of elite swimmers. Ideally, you want to breakout of the underwater phase when the underwater kick speed slows down to swimming speed, or 15 metres, whichever comes first. There is no advantage in staying under if you’re kicking slower than you can swim. However, speed, fatigue and a need for oxygen all pay a role in the underwater phase. We’ll try to find out how much of a role they play.

First, how fast is underwater kicking?

Here are the results for average speed to 15m for the fastest underwater swimmers in the first length of the 100 backstroke at the …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog

The Lazy Way to Get Faster

lazy duck

I still remember this phrase from my university coach in my freshman year. It’s such an appealing idea. The Lazy Way to Get Faster. Who could argue with that?

I have to admit that I distrusted the idea at first. Swimming is known for fast freshmen, and of course being teenagers we already knew everything. So being casually told that we could get faster by being lazy was beyond my suspension of disbelief.

However, I can honestly say it works. As long as your definition of lazy is a bit loose.

The idea is that by the time you get to university, any increases in actual swimming speed will take a very hard work. Months and months of very hard work. However, the non-swimming part of races was a different matter. My coach confidently predicted that we could drastically improve our times just by getting better at starts and turns. (These days I’d add underwater kicking but my swim career predated that invention.)

He was right, of course. We spent a lot of time improving our starts and turns, and gained significant time reductions in the process. Far bigger time reductions than we could possibly eke out of the swim portions of our races. So while lazy may not be the correct term, it was infinitely easier to get faster through improvements to starts and turns than through swimming. Unfortunately, all of our competitors worked on this as well, but at least we were all a lot faster while we raced each other.

This all came home to me at our meet this weekend. One of our boys had broken his wrist 2 months ago (see my post on this here), and the cast only came off a couple of weeks ago. He spent the time training surprisingly hard on his kicking and …read more

Source: Rick’s Blog