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Thread: Kicking in open water.

  1. #1

    Kicking in open water.

    How much kicking should be done in open water? I have generally thought that excessive kicking is not very efficient (and more tiring being a large muscle group) in longer distances. When I was out last week, my kayaker said I wasn't kicking at all. I know I don't kick much, but I didn't realize it was so little and so noticeable. So, how much kicking should be done? How much benefit vs energy expenditure?

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    I'd like to hear about this too. My kick is very weak too. I do a lake swim once a week, about 1.5 miles. This week I concentrated on kicking more and ended up with lower leg/foot cramps in the last hundred yards or so. Had to breast stroke into shore to work out the cramping.

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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    I've only done 1 open water swim ever, so I don't really know the answer to this. But I've met a couple of open water swimmers who gave me lots of advice for my first open water swim. A 1 mile open water swim is considered as a "sprint". So I've been told to swim like it's a sprint, with rhythmic breathing. That means lots of hard kicking. For longer distances, they told me to kick, not as hard and frequent. So its a relaxed kicking just so that you don't feel out of balance when you are breathing on the side. Then start kicking hard on the last mile. A few days before my 1 mile OWS, our masters coach had made us do some kicking drills. With and without fins. A team mate of mine who swims a lot in the open water with barely any kicking, started getting cramps the first day of the kicking drills. He decided that he was going to try kicking hard throughout the mile, in the end, he thanked the coach because his time improved and he didn't get any cramps.

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    Very Active Member Gary P's Avatar
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    FWIW, Ledecky barely kicks in a 1500 until the last 150-200M. At this most recent World Championship, she maintained a one-beat kick most of the way. Yes, a one beat, kicking only with her left foot. Still went 15:30.

    You may have to put a little more energy into the kick when you sight, as that motion can push your hips and lower body down. You may occasionally find you need to kick a little more forcefully to drive rotation when you are swimming cross-waved. Otherwise, you don't have to kick any more (or less) than you do swimming long-distance in the pool. If your body posture is good, that may not be very much at all.
    Last edited by Gary P; August 5th, 2017 at 06:26 PM.

  5. #5

    Re: Kicking in open water.

    Well if Katie doesn't kick much...On the other hand, it sounds like it would't hurt to kick at little more, especially towards the end. I practiced increasing my kick in the pool this morning. A little awkward. I am doing Donner Lake Saturday; I think I will see how things go increasing my kick on the last stretch. If I don't like it, I can always go back to my wimpy way. Thanks for the input.

  6. #6
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    I'm not a big kicker, but I find kicking in the OW for me is a function of the conditions. Bigger waves call for bigger kicks. Helps to stabilize and get your breathing in without getting a mouthful (or at least minimizing it...)

    For me, it's a much slower kick than in the pool, and is really timed to the rhythm of the waves. On flat water, kicking reverts back to more pool-like.

    'tuna

  7. #7
    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    I grew up a sprinter with a 6-beat kick. When I made the move to open water distance in my 30's, I switched to a two-beat kick. It is strong enough to drive my stroke from the hip (more so with my right leg), but it is not a strong kick. I save my legs for the last 750-1000 meters when I switch to a 6-beat and let my legs and adrenaline drive me home. (Anything 5K or longer, my shoulders are flagging by that point anyway.)

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    Like some have said, it depends on the distance. Shorter races under 2m, yeah, I'll kick more. The longer races, I'll usually just do a 2 beat kick for most of the race then kick strong towards the last 1/2 mile or so to the finish. Or sometimes, to break things up or to creep up on someone from behind, I'll kick at a medium pace for about 10 strokes, then easy, then strong again. It breaks it up a bit more and gives you something to drive towards as you get an opportunity to pass. Don't do it to the detriment of your race, though.
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

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    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: Kicking in open water.

    I guess I don't feel so bad now. I'm still a novice, so I have nothing to guide me in OWS but this forum. I was trying to increase my kicking from the start, but after a mile+ it started to wear me down. Anyway, I wasn't in a race, so no harm done. I'll try waiting for the third half mile loop to get a harder kick on next time.

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