I recently saw advice on a triathlon forum to develop/improve the propulsiveness of the kick to become a faster swimmer.
As a triathlon coach coaching triathletes, 95% of whom are not former competitive swimmers, are swimming 2100-4200yds in a race (much, much farther than your typical competitive swimming event) in a wetsuit that adds a lot of buoyancy to their legs and who have to bike and run a long distance after their swim, my opinion is that the kick should be viewed as an aid to body position and balance first, propulsion a very, very distant second.
In my opinion, the best kick for a triathlete to have is one which does no harm. Rather than “powerful” or “fast,” its “effective”:
- Lifts your feet up at the surface of the water, getting them inside the tube created by your body moving through the water.
- Feet are kept inside this tube. That is, you don’t have a leg swinging out all crazy every other stoke, getting outside of that tube and creating a lot of drag.
- Is an aid to and does not hinder body rotation. An ineffective kick will simply get in the way of the natural rotation of your body in the water.
- It’s not a tool to increase propulsion, helping you go _that_ way.
For this reason, I don’t recommending kicking sets, especially with a kickboard, with the goal of developing a more powerful kick. I would rather have that time spent doing drills to improve body position first, propulsive swimming (better catch) second.
In my opinion, the swim leg of a triathlon should basically be a pulling event: legs only doing enough to help/do no harm to body position, not being used as another propulsion tool. The pull is a much better tool for that job and your arms are done working for the day when you exit T2.
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