Apr 222012

This week’s drill centers on your turns, but not necessarily just flip turns. Actually, we are going to focus on using dolphin kicks to come off the wall. Many swimmers struggle to know how many dolphin kicks they should use. Some use just one, others may use up to 12. Those that use those higher numbers have very efficient, tight, compact dolphin kicks (not to mention great lungs). Most of us find our efficiency somewhere in the 2-4 kicks range. Well, this drill will help you determine how many kicks is most efficient for you. If you’ve got aid to a coach or teammate, all the better, as you will be able to time your distance from the wall to a specific point. Here’s how it works. To see a video of this in action, I refer you to my “go to” site for videos on all things swimming – the GoSwim folks. The video is embedded at the end of this post.

Here are the instructions from GoSwim on their video posting – Turns – How Many Dolphins?

We all have to realize that even though the majority of time at swim practice is spent going back and forth, it’s the switching from one direction to the other that is more important than ever.

Coaches can say it until they’re blue in the face, the fastest you’ll ever be going in a race is when you’re leaving a wall… either starts or turns. Since you have so much opportunity to practice turns… you should probably do it.

Why do it:
Switching the sport of swimming from a guessing game to a habit and system will help you improve in both your knowledge and performance. It will take time, consistent practice, and the help of your coach or another swimmer.

How to do it:
1) Set a mark on the bottom of the pool… it doesn’t have to be anything exact, but it needs to be a permanent mark so you have a standard to reach when you practice.
2) To find out exactly how many kicks you’ll need to maintain your momentum, create a progression.
3) Start with one dolphin, which for most isn’t enough, then swim to your mark.
4) Progress this by adding one dolphin until you’re either at your mark or you simply run out of momentum.
5) We added dolphins until we got to five.

How to do it really well (the fine points):
Sure you can practice this based just on feel, but if you want to really know what’s the best for you, you’ll need to add a time factor. Have your coach or friend time you from the wall to the mark. You’ll then have to determine, over time, which solution is going to be the one that allows you to continue to swim at your pace with the most efficiency.

While you may be the fastest with four or five kicks, the day you add this to your practice, you’ll quickly realize it’s not easy to do. You’ll have to build this up over time, so consistency will count for a LOT. This works for both starts and turns.

Go have some fun with this! Get your lane mates in on the action.



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