Last week’s drill of the week was about timing the kick in freestyle. It generated a lot of discussion — and questions about WHEN to place the power kick so that it has the most effect. One reader mentioned a good drill — Freestyle Arms with Dolphin Kick — to teach the correct timing, so we thought it would be a good idea to make this an official drill of the week.
Why Do It:
Freestyle Arms with Dolphin Kick is an all-or-nothing drill. Unless you get the timing JUST RIGHT, you will feel like a total klutz — kind of like Dave Denniston’s famous "chicken on crack." But this is what makes the drill so valuable. If you can master the drill and make it flow, you KNOW you will have the right sense of timing when you return to Freestyle Arms with Flutter Kick.
Freestyle Arms with Dolphin Kick is also good for teaching a better sense of front-quadrant timing. If you have a windmill-type stroke, or if you are a triathlete who can’t seem to break the habit of pushing DOWN on the water to get UP to air, then this is a good drill to teach you to glide and ride out each armstroke.
How To Do It:
1. Push off in streamline and do a few underwater dolphin kicks into your breakout.
2. As you break out, start swimming freestyle, but with a dolphin kick. Time the kick so that each downbeat coincides with your hand entering the water and extending forward. You may have to use a slower dolphin kick than normal, to make it synch up with your arms. Also, you may have to slow down your armstroke and glide a bit more, to make the arms synch up with your kick. In either case, the drill will make you very aware that there is a link between the arms and legs. Get the timing right and you feel a powerful surge with each armstroke. Get it wrong and you feel like you are fighting yourself.
3. This drill works best when practiced for short distances — like 25 meters or yards. Try a set of, say 8 X 25, until you feel like the rhythm and timing are locked in. Then try 8 X 25 of freestyle with flutter kick, searching for the same timing. Whether you have a 2- , 4- , or 6-beat kick, the downbeat of the power kicks should coincide with the entry of the hands. Except now you shouldn’t have to think too much about all of this. The drill should have locked in the FEEL for where the power kicks should be placed.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Don’t go flat! When doing this drill, there is a tendency to go flat — with both undulation and rotation. Notice in the video clip that our female swimmer manages to maintain both the long-axis rotation of freestyle and the short-axis undulation of butterfly. Our male swimmer has relaxed a bit on both rotation and undulation.
2. Feel the power generated by making a connection between arms and legs. By timing the downbeat of the dolphin kick with the entry and extension of the hand, you should feel a power surge.