View Full Version : Dolphin Alternative

April 26th, 2011, 02:06 PM
I am completely horrible at dolphin kicking and wanted to know what others thought about changing my kick to flutter off walls and starts. Is it possible to be just as fast using the flutter kick (especially on backstroke turns) and does anyone here do it this way?

April 26th, 2011, 03:14 PM
Dolphin kick is the wave of the future. Hop on. Flutter kick may be faster for you for now, but it'll never be as good as an awesome dolphin kick. Work on it, you'll get better.

I guess it depends how much speed you're willing to leave on the table versus how much extra work it would take to get better at it.

Redbird Alum
April 26th, 2011, 03:23 PM
It all depends on the individual. If you have honestly tried both, and flutter is faster for you, then by all means, use the flutter kick.

Make sure you have trained both ways, however, as you may find that with proper training, the streamlined dolphin comes through for you.

April 26th, 2011, 04:04 PM
Train both, test both,
do whatever is fastest for you.
Keep training,
keep testing.
1) breakouts using SDK's & SFKs
2) 15 & 25 SDK & SFK

Give SDK 6 months to a year.
You might improve with training
Some swimmers don't have the feet or timing to SDK fast.

For me, my SDK is around 10 to 15% faster than my SFK.

Times will tell. What are yours?

I am completely horrible at dolphin kicking and wanted to know what others thought about changing my kick to flutter off walls and starts. Is it possible to be just as fast using the flutter kick (especially on backstroke turns) and does anyone here do it this way?

April 26th, 2011, 04:19 PM
I think sdk takes more QUAD. strength than flutter.

April 26th, 2011, 04:44 PM
As others have suggested, do what works better for you. But definitely work on dolphin kicking before deciding to bag it.

I gave it a try for a year, where I did a minimum of 2 dolphin kicks off of every wall in practice (in some cases, more). I eventually went back to a flutter (or glide, depending on the race) despite some improvement. Then again, I do mostly freestyle events where it makes less sense to stay under.

Keep in mind that although there are some superstars that are all about dolphin kicks (Phelps, Coughlin), there are also those who do not (Lezak) and still do well.

April 26th, 2011, 05:40 PM
Hi L. S.

SDK is not an easy skill to learn, keep at it and try different things with how you do it. I'm still working on it and will be for a long time to come. I really do believe that it is faster than SFK, but it is also a skill that I may never fully master or my 52-yr body won't do.

These are my opinions, developed through study of the skills and work of others. Certainly subject to critique and discreditable, but here it goes! :blah:

That said, I practice it on every turn and some days add exercises where that is my prime focus. I am not a master of this technique, but I have been studying it and trying to turn what my brain has grasped into body action and muscle memory...I've got a looong way to go!

Try making your back and free turns deeper. This gets you away from your own wash coming into the turn, but also you can use your full lung buoyancy to assist you in keeping the SDK fast. Ande has talked about this before and his new video posted with the thread "How Far can you glide" really shows the value as he rises the depth is turned into horizontal speed and distance. I've also found that really getting my breakout right and combining that first arm pull with the last SDK kick is a blast (pun intended)!

In addition to 25 sprints where my focus is the push off/SDK and breakout I do some kicking on my side. The focus here is trying to learn what's right for head/chest/hips/knees/ankles & feet. There definitely is a point of too much head shoulder movement when trying to produce propulsion w/ dolphin kick, in my opinion. I think this is a very different skill than the dolphin kick associated with swimming butterfly where there is a fair amount of vertical displacement of the head and shoulders. (I'm not a butterfly'r and my shoulders don't do that anymore.)

I really like the work done by Raul Arrellano of the University of Grenada. From reading his papers, I prefer to call this underwater undulatory swimming or UUS. It is one and the same thing as SDK, but I wanted to make the conceptual break from dolphin or butterfly only because I find the body motions different.

I am trying to have a faster UUS rate (SDK) based on Raul's work, aiming for 2 HZ or 2 kicks per second. This is much faster than my dolphin kick when I swim butterfly...or at least really different. With my butterfly there is a fair amount of vertical translation of my center of mass (core) and my dual kick is coordinated with the arms. With fast UUS, the head really doesn't move much in the Y or vertical. There is a great youtube video that shows this both in computer analysis and real time video of Natalie Coughlin. "Natalie Coughlin Dolphin Kick Analysis"
YouTube - Natalie Coughlin Dolphin Kick analysis

Much of what Raul has written can be found at:

One of my favorites of his is "UNDERWATER UNDULATORY SWIMMING: KINEMATIC CHARACTERISTICS, VORTEX GENERATION AND APPLICATION DURING THE START, TURN AND SWIMMING STROKES" This is cowritten by Susana Pardillo and Arantxa Gavilan. This file is 2002ArellanoISBS.pdf (http://homepage.mac.com/natacion/SwimmingScience/page4/page16/page38/files/2002ArellanoISBS.pdf)

I hope this helps more than confuses. If I've got it wrong...let the flames begin! :argue:


April 26th, 2011, 06:22 PM
In distance fly, I do 3 big dolphins out of every turn. Yes , I need to hold my breath longer, but stroke less in each length!

May 1st, 2011, 12:16 AM
I remember seeing a clip of Popov and Hall at the turn. Popov didn't dolphin kick, in fact he didn't kick one beat until he surfaced. I'll try to dig it up

Here, I know it's old but Popov hit the wall at 23.51, 0.04 seconds later than Hall. Without kicking he then won on the second 50M.

Perhaps his strategy was to conserve on the second half after pushing Hall in the first half knowing he would do anything to get there befor him.

YouTube - Swimming technique Crawl Turn