What’s old is new again. Back in the “old days,” breaststrokers had to keep the legs firm, rigid, and straight during the underwater pullout..or risk getting a DQ. When many swimmers started to add a dolphin kick, saying it was too hard to control this “natural movement,” the rules were changed to allow a single downward dolphin AFTER the hands had separated. The rule has changed AGAIN, this time allowing a single butterfly kick at any time prior to the first breaststroke kick. This means…the dolphin kick can happen while the swimmer is still in streamline. If that’s where you choose to place the dolphin kick, it means you’ll have to revisit that old skill of keeping the legs firm, rigid, and straight during the remainder of the pullout.
Why Do It:
If you initiate the dolphin kick while your hands are still in streamline, you can maintain your momentum better off each wall… because you’re spreading out the propulsive phases of the pullout. There’s the dolphin stage…the pulldown stage…and the kick stage. The new rule allows you to initiate your dolphin kick while your hands are in streamline. Remember, however, you STILL get only ONE dolphin kick.
How to Do It:
1. Let’s start with where we were before the most recent rule change. Push off. Then, as closely as possible, separate the hands, and initiate the dolphin kick.
2. Prior to that, the “natural movement” of the body had the dolphin kick happening as the hands were finishing the pulldown.
3. Prior to that, you weren’t allowed to move the legs at all. So during the pulldown, squeezing the legs, and pointing the toes kept the legs hidden behind the body… in great position to maintain momentum.
1. We’ll start with a simple progression. Start with the hands in streamline and take ONE dolphin kick.
2. Now push off in streamline, initiate the dolphin kick…. then wait… then pull the hands down WITHOUT moving the legs.
3. Now, push off in streamline, initiate the dolphin kick… wait… pull the hands down with straight legs… wait… recover and kick to streamline.
How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Why the pauses? When you’re learning, take that extra second between the steps to focus on overcoming the instinct you’ve built over the past few years to have the legs moving while the arms are pulling. We’re seeing instances where the kick is being placed prior to the separation of the hands, and then it’s also showing up again as the arms pull down. You’ll need to think through and overcome this learned action.
This is about maintaining more of your momentum, rather than creating more power. Push — Dolphin — Pulldown — Recover and — Kick to Streamline — THEN swim.