To Kick or Not to Kick

A question I hear often from adults learning how to swim is confusion about the importance of a good, hard, fast kick. As a former competitive swimmer I believe the kick is very important for many reasons. It helps you to better understand the stroke as well as build strength and endurance. I do not believe that you should kick hard during a triathlon. Perhaps I would kick hard to put myself in a good position, but otherwise I would stick to a 2 beat kick to save my legs for the run and bike. Whereas, freestyle usually has a 6 beat kick.

There are two things happening here. First, you are learning how to swim basic freestyle, which has everything to do with timing. Learning the proper kick helps you learn to use your upper and lower body together to swim with more force using hip-driven freestyle. Kick sets are a great workout for your core, gluten, hamstrings, quads and calves. During the kick set you are building up endurance and strengthening. Try kicking on your back to build muscle for your bike.

Second, your legs need to know how to effortlessly move through the water behind you without creating any drag. The more experienced a swimmer you are and the more you pay close attention to how the overall stroke works together, the faster and more efficient you will be in the water. Becoming a good swimmer takes practice time and a lot of effort and focus on proper technique. Kick sets with your face in the water can help you work on your breath control and taking a quick breath. Kicking is exhausting, which mimics how out of breath you might feel during a race. These are all things that need to be practiced.

I would recommend learning the traditional freestyle, then learning how to swim for a triathlon. The only result you will have is being a better, more well-rounded swimmer.