Using kicks to improve speed?

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Matt Lobe » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00


I am competing in triathlons and have moderate experience swimming.  Most of
what I have learned I have taught myself through trial and error.  But here
is one question that I haven't been able to figure out. . .

Does kicking your legs really help improve speed?  I don't kick very much,
really just light kicks beneath the surface of the water.

I have heard experienced swimmers both tell me that kicking can
significantly improve speed and that it doesn't help at all.   Which is it?

Help?!?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

-- Matt

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by BAYCITVIDG » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00


the water.

Quote:

>I have heard experienced swimmers both tell me that kicking can
>significantly improve speed and that it doesn't help at all.   Which
is it?

>Help?!?

>Thanks in advance for any advice!

>-- Matt

            Matt...quit mind-fucing yourself

            why not do this: learn how to  
            kick well and very efficiently.  

            then you can find out for yourself
            who of them is right....

            don't allow others to make up your
                mind when it's only you that            
                can swim against your time
                every time on time....

            bill conduit
            etc.

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Gleshna » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:
>Does kicking your legs really help improve speed?  I don't kick very much,
>really just light kicks beneath the surface of the water.

>I have heard experienced swimmers both tell me that kicking can
>significantly improve speed and that it doesn't help at all.   Which is it?

I have just been reading about this.  Kicking for propulsion can quadruple
oxygen use so it is usually not worth the effort.  It is useful for sprint
races and spring finishes, or I would guess, if you just feel like using more
oxygen.

For triathalon I would suggest a good wetsuit whenever possible since the good
swimmers constantly complain about the advantage this gives poor swimmers.

Bob

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by BAYCITVIDG » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00


Quote:
(Gleshna99) writes:

>I have just been reading about this.
>Bob

            Bob

                or is it boB?  
                or is it BOB?
                or be it BOb?
                or be it Bob?

                or Bobbie?  

                Bob...you scare me.  You are always
                reading about swimming....

                gee, what a concept.  

                epistomologically speaking B-o-B,
                how do you explain what you are
                being seen as being expert in...
                the fact that you read.  ?

                gee Bob...

                what do you have within that is
                special to contribute to people
                in need of ideas that are found
                in the water bob?  

                are you a water-Bob?  

                Bob. Be a water first Bob..  

                Get certification and teach for
                a few years and have a bio to
                go....

                `Bob...you scare me.  

            bill conduit
            guru to the living.  

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by jean sterlin » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

> I am competing in triathlons and have moderate experience swimming.  Most of
> what I have learned I have taught myself through trial and error.  But here
> is one question that I haven't been able to figure out. . .

> Does kicking your legs really help improve speed?  I don't kick very much,
> really just light kicks beneath the surface of the water.

     You get a small amount of  propulsion from the kick in freestyle (crawl
stroke) - I think I have read that the kick accounts for something like 20% of
the propulsion in freestyle, while in ***stroke about half of your forward
motion is from the kick.  In freestyle, the kick is more necessary for good body
position than to provide push through the water.

                                            Jean S.

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Kenneth Cherto » Thu, 24 Jun 1999 04:00:00

I think the conventional wisdom is that the kick is most propulsive in
sprint events, but that it primarily serves to stabilize in distance
swimming.   Certainly it works that way for me -- I'm a sprinter and I
rely very heavily on the kick both for speed and to drive the rhythm of
my stroke.  Nevertheless, I think it really depends on the individual
swimmer's technique and strengths.  Since no two swimmer's bodies are
identical, I think its  find out whether you have have a strong
propulsive kick and take advantage of it if you do.

Ken Chertoff
http://homepages.go.com/~kenswim/index.html

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by (Pete Cresswe » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00

RE/

Quote:
>I am competing in triathlons and...

>Does kicking your legs really help improve speed?

Speaking as just a beginning swimmer, but one who has read a few threads on
kicking....

1) For anerobic distance speed, it's a no-brainer:  a strong kick makes for
better times.

2) The conventional wisdom is that distance swimmers only kick enough to help
with their roll.   "2-beat kick" is the word.

3) A few people have freakish ankle flexability.   One guy is reputed to be able
to lay his legs flat on the floor (with the backs of knees touching) and
simultaneously touch the balls of his feet to the floor.     I'd think that
people at this end of the spectrum would get more out of their kick and,
perhaps, use it more even in distance.

4) There seems to be an argument that:
    - Distance-pace swimming doesn't tax the cardiovascular system all that much
compared to running, so there's some capacity left over
    - The large muscles in the legs can act as a sink for waste products
produced by the upper body - more so, the more one kicks
    - Therefore a moderate six-beat kick will help siphon off waste products
from the torso/arms without taxing the whole system too much.

I don't know enough to have an intelligent opinion on this, but it has been put
forth in this forum by someone who clearly knows a *lot*.
-----------------------
Pete Cresswell

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Don » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00

A further source on kicking and its relevance is Marty Hull's
video "How Swimming Works: New Ideas in Freestyle and Backstroke".

Don

Quote:

>RE/
>>I am competing in triathlons and...

>>Does kicking your legs really help improve speed?

>Speaking as just a beginning swimmer, but one who has read a few threads on
>kicking....

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by BAYCITVIDG » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00


writes:

Quote:

>A further source on kicking and its relevance is Marty Hull's
>video "How Swimming Works: New Ideas in Freestyle and Backstroke".

>Don

            well don...how about
            being a swell guy
            not wearing your
            speee-o's and
            help people;
        where and how much and
            address and zip
            and phone and more

        be a pal.  plenty of    
    interest out there.  Be a
            pal...to the little
            people.  

            bill conduit
            etc.

            post it under: VIDEO Teaches Swimming

            be a hero to a little guy.  

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by BAYCITVIDG » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00


Quote:

>I think the conventional wisdom is that the kick is most propulsive in
>sprint events, but that it primarily serves to stabilize in distance
>swimming.   Certainly it works that way for me -- I'm a sprinter and I
>rely very heavily on the kick both for speed and to drive the rhythm
of
>my stroke.  Nevertheless, I think it really depends on the individual
>swimmer's technique and strengths.  Since no two swimmer's bodies are
>identical, I think its  find out whether you have have a strong
>propulsive kick and take advantage of it if you do.

>Ken Chertoff
>http://homepages.go.com/~kenswim/index.html

        yet there are others in the        
        sprints who use their arms  
        primarily and win.  

        I agree that the propulsion            
            for sprints comes from
            leg thrust...as the
            arms join to beat in    
            unison towards the  
            wall times distance

            at least with a very    '      
            well developed kick
            system you can put
            it into fourth gear
            and rise higher in
            the water and go for
                it last lap.  

            the legs take over.  
            the stroke allows
            that to happen and
            the stroking becomes
            more purposeful.

            Two doing as one.  
            it's great when it
            works and lousy when    
            it don't.  

        especially the last race
            of the season.  

        you can never practice  
        for it to occur next
            week.  it's over.  

        and it was beautiful
            except for....

        bill conduit
        etc.  

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Gleshna » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00

Quote:

>            well don...how about
>            being a swell guy
>            not wearing your
>            speee-o's and
>            help people;

Just a side note on our reactive, poetic, personable "friend" and his comments
as above.  I have just filtered the guy, and I believe this will decrease the
"boor" factor of this newsgroup a great deal for me.

Bob

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Don » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00

The referenced video can be had from Sports Publications, Inc.,
1-800-352-7946, ext. 1, for $34.95. Also of interest is Scott
Volkers' Swimming Towards 2000, for $49.95, which has a
lot of footage of Susie O'Neill, Sam Riley, and others.
Same source.

[I am not affiliated with the referenced company.]

Don

Quote:


>writes:

>>A further source on kicking and its relevance is Marty Hull's
>>video "How Swimming Works: New Ideas in Freestyle and Backstroke".

>>Don

[...]
>        where and how much and
>            address and zip
>            and phone and more

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by BAYCITVIDG » Fri, 25 Jun 1999 04:00:00


Quote:
(Gleshna99) writes:
>Just a side note on our reactive, poetic, personable "friend" and his
comments
>as above.  I have just filtered the guy, and I believe this will
decrease the
>"boor" factor of this newsgroup a great deal for me.

>Bob

        was it something I wrote?  

        pray tell, what angst is thee
            after the foray you
            claim I am responsible for?  

        why would you filter out a
        "personable" guy who is very
        much interested in being the
            "guru to the living"?  

        i'm sure you mean well, but
            you snipped it wrongly.  

        you see, you snip
            it ends up flip

            bob...take a deep breathe
            and float around for a
            while...just think a bit.  

            face down.  

        bill conduit
            etc.

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by RunnSw » Fri, 02 Jul 1999 04:00:00


Quote:
(Gleshna99) writes:
>I have just been reading about this.  Kicking for propulsion can quadruple
>oxygen use so it is usually not worth the effort.  It is useful for sprint
>races and spring finishes, or I would guess, if you just feel like using more
>oxygen.

The above is convention wisdom.  It really does miss the point.

For starters, if you don't use oxygen, you don't burn fat.  The reason why you
get increased oxygen use is that you are using the oxygen to metabolize both
lactic acid and fat, both of which the upper body does poorly, relative to the
lower body.

In the second place, there is nothing wrong with "increasing oxygen use."
Ability to supply oxygen to exercising muscle is not limiting to swim
performance.  There is no correlation between VO2 max and distance swimming
performance.  Janet Evans had a relatively low VO2 max.  Chad Carvin remains a
great distance swimmer, despite losing significant cardiac function with his
devastating myocardopathy. VO2 max highly correlates with performance in lower
body sports (running, cycling). But not in swimming  Heart evolved to meet the
needs of the lower body musculature, which have vastly more cross-sectional
capillary diameter than does upper body musculature.  Therefore, there is
EXCESS capacity to supply oxygen than needed for maximally working upper body
muscles. Also, upper body (higher ratio of anaerobic glycolysis to aerobic
Krebs' cycle metabolism, relative to lower body) burns little fat, which IS
burned along with the "increasing oxygen use" as more and more kicking is
brought into play).

Some of this excess capacity can and should be put into kicking.  You want to
kick at an "aerobic" (positive ratio of lactate consumption over lactate
production) level.  A good approximation for an aerobic kick is one which can
be maintained continuously for 30 minutes.  At this aerobic level, you will
gain the following advantages:

1. Improved propulsion (speed)
2. Improved front to back balance, less drag
3. Increased fat burning (see # 4, immediately below)
4. Net lactate removal from the ***.  The upper body
is very poor at utilizing oxygen (fewer capillaries per
unit of muscle, fewer mitochondria, less myoglobin).

The reason behind this is evident from evolution.  
Paleolithic humans did use their legs continuously
for hours, but used their upper body for just brief,
instense efforts (spear throwing, tree climbing to
escape saber tooth tigers, etc.).  So human upper
body is more like turkey wings (white meat) than
like duck wings (red meat), relative to the lower
body (red meat).  So exercising upper body works largely at
a lactate producing level.  This increases with
increased speed, as in a race.  The lactate enters
the *** and the ability to flush lactate from
the muscle into the *** by moving along
a gradient from high lactate (in the muscle) to
low lactate (in the ***) decreases.  Finally,
lactate levels rise in the ***, lactate removal
from the muscle stops, and the swimmer stops.
But if the legs are working aerobically (net lactate
consumption - lactate is actually preferred over
sugar as a fuel for aerobically working muscle),
then the legs act as a "sink" to reduce ***
lactate and allow upper body muscles to work
longer before fatique from terminal lactate
saturation sets in.  This is why modern
distance swimmers who maintain a brisk
kick throughout their distance races are
so successful (e.g. Eric Vendt).

What a deal!  Kickers win.

- Larry Weisenthal

 
 
 

Using kicks to improve speed?

Post by Don » Fri, 02 Jul 1999 04:00:00

Larry,

Please, if you would, explain this "sink" concept in greater detail.
Are you saying that somehow the legs draw lactate from the
***stream? And what is the significance of this for the
lactic acid levels in the *** and the musculature?

Thanks,
Don

Quote:

>But if the legs are working aerobically (net lactate
>consumption - lactate is actually preferred over
>sugar as a fuel for aerobically working muscle),
>then the legs act as a "sink" to reduce ***