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Thread: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

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    Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    I have spent the last 20+ years with a 2 beat rotational kick, hip driven freestyle focusing on middle and ultra distance events(half and full iron). Fast twitch kid and ran the 100/200 and 100 hurdles in high school. Now back in the pool I have come to embrace what fast twitch I have left and apparently have a knack for the sprints!

    Doing tons of kick work to begin the never ending process of getting a powerful 6 beat kick. It's pretty lame at the moment. Working on keeping my hips a little flatter and using that as my platform for a powerful flutter. My issue is that I seem to lose my balance and downhill feeling that is so ingrained with my 2 beat rotational kick once I focus on the 6 beat flutter. To fully engage my 6 beat it's feels like I need to let my legs sink a little bit which just seems wrong. When I do that I feel all that extra drag build up immediately and it's a momentum killer. I'm used to having my bum slightly breach the water with my hip driven stroke. Not able to do that successfully yet with my 6 beat. Ideas or thoughts on what I might be doing wrong or is this just how the 6 beat feels when amping it up for 50/100?

    I was given a suggestion today by a really fast sprinter from a local club team to kind of squeeze my bum a little bit and kick even more compact than I am. Didn't really get the hang of it, but open to idea on what I might want to focus on with this new kick journey I'm on. Thanks.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    What types of kicking drills are you using to try to develop the 6-beat kick? There are certain types of drills that can work towards a 6 beat, rotational kick...

    Julia Galan
    www.swimspire.com

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimspire View Post
    What types of kicking drills are you using to try to develop the 6-beat kick? There are certain types of drills that can work towards a 6 beat, rotational kick...

    Julia Galan
    www.swimspire.com
    Ahh thanks! I do two: kicking streamlined on back and streamlined face down with a snorkel. I cannot use a kickboard due to neck issues from being rear ended by a drunk driver about 20 years ago. That said I like streamlined kicking b/c it feels much more like my 'swimming' kick.

    Thanks for some tips with rotational kicking. If you are referring to kicking on side with downside streamlined I do that a ton mixed in strokes: 6 beat switch. Part of my warm up.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Thanks for the additional info! Below I've listed a few drills that you can try. You'll see that some of them involve kicking within the context of the pull motion. You should practice these over short distances only, depending upon your level and ability, combined with fullstroke.

    - Roll shoulders drill is excellent for achieving body balance, rotation in the water and maintaining a consistent and faster-paced kick. In this drill, you're on your stomach, arms at side and rotate along your body axis (keeping your head still) while kicking continuously. You breathe bilaterally to the side every 3rd rotation

    - Single arm hesitation drill is a fundamental drill that will allow you to focus on keeping up your kick during the stroke cycle by using only one arm and hesitating for 2 seconds during the recovery phase of the pull. Be sure to breathe every stroke on this drill.

    - The drill that you mentioned (the 6 beat switch) is what we call side-to-side, but you can also do a variation on this by taking 3 side-to-side strokes, followed by 3 fullstrokes for the duration of the set.

    - Fingertip drag is also a great drill for developing a consistent kick throughout the duration of the stroke cycle. Fingertip drag mimics the fullstroke with the exception that you drag your fingertips across the water during the recovery phase of the pull, thus slowing down your arm recovery and allowing you to increase the speed and beats of your kick.

    Given that you've been swimming over 20 years with a 2-beat kick, it will take a good deal of time and energy to work up to the 6-beat kick, so don't get frustrated if your progress is slower than expected - this is completely normal and it takes years for swimmers to develop this type of fast-paced kick. You can always check out my website (http://www.swimspire.com) or email me if you want further help! Good luck!

    Julia Galan
    http://www.swimspire.com

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Thank you for the detailed info. Things are coming along great seeing improvement! Something my coach suggested with my desire to sink the legs to engage them better was to really focus on firing my glutes. In over 2 decades I have never once heard a coach say the kick should have gluteal input? I guess I'm just an idjit and we are supposed to know this, but wow once the initial soreness went away I have discovered a power source that blows away any kick technique I had used previously. Firing the glutes more automatically raised my legs AND gave me super fun kick power I have never had. Win!

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    I've just started experimenting with some intentional glute-engagement too, vo2. It feels so right that I have to assume this is what "good swimmers" normally do without anyone telling them to.

    In general, I'm making the "amazing" discovery - as in "DUH" - that there is a group of muscles that "anchor" the legs to the torso and another group that anchors the arms. And lo and behold, those muscles actually have to be fully engaged and firing when you try to use your arms and legs to move!! Pretty smart, eh? (For anyone wondering "How else could you move?" trust me, there are lazy, cheater ways of moving that over-rely on more peripheral muscles.)

    This is sort of related to earlier discussions of "core muscles" - but a bit different. "Anchor muscles?"

    As always, encouraging to hear people making parallel discoveries. Hope you KICK ass on your next sprint race.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Oh cool glad it's clicking for you too. I have even found it applies to my trusty 2 beat as well even though it's essentially a straight leg with that approach. It's more of a body line/rigidity thing with a 2 beat, but has certainly given me a boost towards the end of longer sets in that my legs don't get draggy. On good days my 2 beat would have my heels just kissing the surface only occasionally, but now they are there all the time which simply means less drag. Have yet to do a hammer session of longer stuff, but will try it out on my open water swim Sunday.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    I mainly do 2-beat as well - bumping up to 4-beat (I think) for faster swims. The glut-engagement thingy seem to apply in all types of kicking, all strokes, and also even in walking/running.

    Also, could've mentioned that I also have to focus on firing those muscles of the inside upper thigh (adductors? - the ones you use to squeeze legs together) in all these activities as well. Those have gone so underused I've been doing drylands to try to bring them back to life. Those, plus gluts, seem to provide a pretty good base of support for more "natural," efficient leg movement.

    Sounds like you're saying that faster kicking/6-beat is less straight-leg than 2-beat? Didn't know that - will check that out.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    As a distance swimmer, it is natural that you would find the 6 beat kick challenging, not only in practice, but in theory. Your downhill feeling from the 2 beat is almost exactly opposite of the drive that a good 6 beat offers. If you are not comfortable with it, you likely feel as if you are plowing through the water.

    Since you only use it for 50 or 100, enjoy the ride. Kick like mad and don't get stuck thinking too much during the race. If your legs are paralyzed about 10 yards form the end, you probably kicked just right. Amplitude is not necessary, but it can be effective. Fiddle with the kick in practice and find what works best for you.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Quote Originally Posted by GregJS View Post
    Sounds like you're saying that faster kicking/6-beat is less straight-leg than 2-beat? Didn't know that - will check that out.
    Yea don't take my word as gospel, just try it an if it works for you great, if not pitch it! On both kicks the upbeat is definitely a straight leg. Downbeat is where it's different for me. 2 beat I keep them straight it's purely rotational generating. 6 beat flutter I'm actually getting some propulsion and I relent to the water a bit and have slight knee bend with relaxed ankles. GoSwim did a nice video on straight or 'straighter' leg kick not long ago that detailed it nicely.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Didn't Jonty Skinner accomplish his world record 100 free with a two -beat or 2 - beat crossover?

    I read the 2 crossover is ideal for lean swimmers that sink easily

    I can actually sprint very close to my peak speed using a 2- beat, maybe several 10ths slower for a 25. And I might even try the 2- beat in my next 100 fr race just for fun. Interestingly, I'm slightly faster doing dolphin kick free than with a 6-beat, but 25m is about the limit.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    Didn't Jonty Skinner accomplish his world record 100 free with a two -beat or 2 - beat crossover?

    I read the 2 crossover is ideal for lean swimmers that sink easily

    I can actually sprint very close to my peak speed using a 2- beat, maybe several 10ths slower for a 25. And I might even try the 2- beat in my next 100 fr race just for fun. Interestingly, I'm slightly faster doing dolphin kick free than with a 6-beat, but 25m is about the limit.
    I'm not certain on that, but anything is possible. I'd say this was pretty much true for me until I learned how to use my glutes as a source of power though. Every single swim I get a bit stronger and faster. Knocked down my 50m free best again last night by .8! At the end of the day I will end up with a 6 beat for 100 or less and anything more gets my trusty 2.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Congratulations on a near second time drop!

    The 6-beat is just slightly faster, but it is faster nonetheless and mandatory for a 50. For distance swimming, like 100 and up, I will use the 2beat for most of it.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    I never hear anything about 4-beat - only 2- and 6-beat. Is there a specific reason for this? I assume that when I kick faster, I go from 2 to 4, but honestly never really counted.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    Congratulations on a near second time drop!

    The 6-beat is just slightly faster, but it is faster nonetheless and mandatory for a 50. For distance swimming, like 100 and up, I will use the 2beat for most of it.
    Thanks! I'm not sure that is all kick improvement as I'm still learning a lot about starts and cleaning them up, but I can certainly see a drop in my kick set times and things feel better on shorter harder stuff. Clock says so too.

    Interesting to hear you say that about 100 b/c when I look at where my 6 beat drops off and I think ok, I can either start with a 6 and ride it until it dies an finish with a 2? Start with a 2 and go 50 and finish 6 beat 50? Or a 2 all the way. Still have a long way to go b/f I get my kick fitness to where it's an honest assessment, but I don't envision ever using a 6 beat for anything over 100 that's for sure.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Hello

    Try my Help! My Flutter Kick is Horrible! Program
    it works!

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Modern distance swimmers have become great kickers. Hacket coming to mind. I read Larsen Jensen kicks a 50 LCM in 30. I think going to six beat kick you loose some efficiency in trade off for outright speed. I think you may be feeling this. I know some swimmers can now six beat kick an entire 500 and some will do it for the 1000....amazing.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    Hey Rob. welcome back
    Did you run masters track? what distances?

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    I've been around, just busy. I started assistant coaching USS team a few years ago. Best thing I ever did. I ran masters until I was 42. Did up to the 400. The running was very hard on me, back, tendons, sports hernia. I find swimming more agreeable to my body.

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    Re: Transitioning from distance to sprint: the kick

    This video does a good job showing which muscle groups need to be activated in order to maintain a horizontal kick. Also includes some excellent fashion ideas.


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