When I work with great swimmers, I’m always struck by how easy they make things look. But looks can be deceptive. In fact, they make it look so easy that you could easily believe they were BORN with all this talent. Genes may have something to do with it, but in talking with these athletes, I come to understand how long it takes, and how hard it is to develop that look of ease.
Take flutter kick, for example. Many of us have bought in to the premise that a swimmer either HAS, or DOESN’T HAVE a great kick, and that’s that. If you’re a swimmer, this is a defeatist attitude, and not one that should be adopted.
I recently had a chance to talk with a great freestyler who is famous for his kick. When I asked HOW he developed such a fantastic flutter kick, his answer was simple, to the point, and direct: "I used a 4- or 6-beat kick in every practice, and in every set, since I was 12 years old. Now it’s just natural".
Think of that statement. The swimmer I spoke to is 23 years old. That’s 11 years of focused, committed work on a daily basis. Would you say that his great kick is "natural" or something that was "developed?"
I got so inspired by talking with this freestyler that I grabbed some footage from ANOTHER great freestyle — Scott Tucker — to show you for our drill of the week. Scott, whose video we’re working on right now, has a great kick while at top speed. But Scott also has a great kick when he’s swimming at slow speed. His kick is fluent and natural. It’s not overdone, yet it’s consistent, no matter what speed he’s swimming at.
Consider this more of a "focal point" of the week, rather than a drill of the week.
Watch how Scott keeps his thighs small, and allows only his lower legs and feet to really break outside the line — or shadow– of his body.
Your task for the next week is to add a consistent kick to every set you swim. Many of you will find this awkward, and it will be tough to keep the rhythm, but don’t give up. Start slowly with a 2- or 4-beat kick, then throw in a 6-beat kick every few laps. The trick is making sure you don’t go sprinting off when you add the extra kicks.
Watch the flow of Scott’s feet and the power that’s generated when he chooses to add it. He controls the speed, power, and cadence of his kick, and can switch at any moment.
Start thinking about your flutter kick today, and in a couple of years, people will be watching YOU. The best compliment you could recieve is for someone to say, "You’ve got such a nice, natural flutter kick."
Only YOU will know how much work and focus it took to develop a "natural" kick. EARN your kick! Don’t settle with what you’ve been given…go get more!