Butterfly - Outside-In Kick

Apr 13, 2007
Butterfly - Outside-In Kick

It's funny how we discover new things in swimming. Sometimes, when you're looking at one thing, you discover something else. Just goes to show that we should always keep an open mind on EVERYTHING in swimming.

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These observations are driven by last week's Drill of the Week, and the comments about the swimmer's kick. In the drill, the swimmer was working on her underwater dolphins. Someone commented that it seemed like her knees were too far apart. In this week's drill, we'll illustrate a few different athletes who kick in a similar fashion.

Why Do It:
Practicing this drill could give you a new dimension in your dolphin kick. Who knows... if you've always had trouble moving forward with your dolphin kick, maybe you're not making the right connection with the water and this little trick can help. For others, this may not work at all. Is it right? Only YOU can tell.

How To Do It:

1. This is a tough one to explain, so rather than go through step-by-step instructions, we'll show you some examples. While you're watching, imagine you're going to kick from outside to IN during your dolphin kick. Rather than kick up and down, try to snap your feet down and inward. Just as a sweeping hand motion in freestyle (the "S" pattern) can help you grab more water, this inward-moving kick can help you grab a bit more water during the path to the finish of the kick.

Let's check out some other swimmers who perform this type of motion.

The first swimmer is Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman, and this footage is from her Go Swim Butterfly video. Notice that her legs separate and that the feet sweep IN slightly on each kick. The faster she goes, the less time there is to complete this move... but it's in there.

The next swimmer is 4-time Olympic medalist Kaitlin Sandeno, with footage from her Go Swim All Strokes video. Kaitlin also has a tendency to sweep her feet IN on the kick. Again, during whole-stroke swimming, the motion is not quite so evident, but it's there.

Next, let's check out a great swimmer who's using ONLY his legs. This footage shows Kevin Clements doing a kicking drill. From the side, you can see it's basic dolphin kick... but as Kevin rotates his body toward the camera, you'll notice the distinct outside-in motion of his feet.

Finally, let's take another look at our swimmer from last week's drill. Notice that when she's swimming -- rather than just working on her underwater dolphins -- her legs don't make such a pronounced, inward motion. Instead, they incorporate that move in a more narrow, more efficient manner.

There are many lessons we can take from this. One... is that when one part of the body is taking SOLE responsibility for propulsion, the actions frequently become LARGER. Two... is that if we can identify the productive things that what we do when we isolate a particular move, maybe we should try to incorporate a bit MORE of that into our whole-stroke swimming. And three... that we should not restrict our natural motions when we experiment and search for faster ways to swim.

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