Want to improve your swim kick? Here are 10 swimming sets to power up your training ahead of that big race.

1. Poolside Power Kick Sets

This is a fun kick training exercise for all swimming squads. Grab on to the side of the pool, extend your arms, body and legs out so that you’re in a flat, long, tall body position, i.e. as if you were kicking on a kickboard. Start to kick slowly, thinking about keeping your feet loose, smooth, easy, floppy and relaxed. Progressively increase your kicking speed while staying focused on that smooth, loose, relaxed feeling. Avoid pointing your toes. Kick as fast – and as smoothly – as possible for 30 seconds, rest for one minute and repeat.

2. Relative Speed Kick Sets

Remember that kicking is not kicking! Kicking training is not designed to merely improve your kicking. Kicking is all about improving your swimming, so keep it ‘relative’. When you kick, keep in mind your swimming PB times and ‘relate’ your kicking speed to your swimming speed. For example, if your 400-metre PB is six minutes (that’s a speed of 1:30 per 100 metres), aim to kick as close as possible to your peak swimming speed. A good goal is to strive to maintain a kicking speed at least 75 per cent of your PB swimming speed (e.g. PB swimming speed = 1:30; target kicking speed = 1:52.5).

3. Swim Kick Sets

Another good kick set variation is to integrate swim and kick in the same repeat. For example, instead of swimming a set of 10 x 100 metres, try alternating 100 swim, then 100 kick. Or try 2 x 100 swim, 2 x 100 kick, 3 x 100 swim, 3 x 100 kick. The combinations and possibilities of swim-kick are endless.

4. KPS (Pronounced KEEPS) Sets

A KPS set combines kick, pull and swim. For example, 5 x 300 metres KPS set. Push off the wall with your arms extended straight out in front of you and kick 100 metres using your pull buoy as if it was a kickboard. Kick the 100 metres, then as you tumble turn, bend forward and place the pull buoy between your knees (without stopping) and pull the next 100 metres. After the 100 metres of pull, as you tumble turn, open your legs slightly and allow the pullbuoy to pop out, and swim 100 metres. KPS sets are very efficient training activities as you can work on kick, pull and swim all in the one repeat and connect the training of your legs, arms and overall stroke in the one 300-metre effort.

5. Timed Kick Sets

Just as it sounds…try some timed kick in every training session. 

6.‘Challenge’ Kicking Targets

All triathletes love a good challenge, that’s why they’re involved in the sport. Establish some kicking ‘challenge targets’ for the team. For example:

a. Kick 50 metres in under one minute

b. Kick 100 metres in under two minutes

c. Kick 200 metres in under four minutes

d. Kick 400 metres in under eight minutes

7. Match Race Kick Sets

Let’s face it, kicking has a bad rep, but it can be a lot of fun. Here’s a great way to put a little excitement and an element of competition into kick sets. The set could be something as simple as 12 x 25 metres or 12 x 50 metres (one lap – depending on the pool). Find a partner – ideally ‘match’ the partners, i.e. two swimmers with similar kicking speeds. Have both partners push off the wall and kick side by side during the kick set and race each other to the end of the pool.

8. Vertical (upright) Kick Sets

This is another fun but challenging way of enhancing your kick. Find some deep (at least two metres) water. While maintaining a tall, flat, strong ‘hips-up’ body shape, kick fast and powerfully in an upright, vertical position. The great thing about vertical kick is that swimmers learn how to ‘feel’ the pressure of the water on both sides of their legs and feet and how to best apply effective force to the water when kicking. A great upright kicking routine is to start with 30 seconds of vertical kick at maximum speed followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat three-to-five times. Then gradually and progressively build the duration of the upright kicking efforts to 45 seconds, 60 seconds and even beyond.

9. Power Kick Sets:

Swim fins can be a great addition to your kicking training program. Try this fun ‘power’ kick set. Without your fins on, swim as fast as you can for 25 metres. Note your time. Rest for one minute. Now put on your fins, grab your kickboard and aim to kick 25 metres with your fins on faster than your 25-metre swim time. Have a one-minute rest and repeat this 25 metres maximum speed swim, 25 metre power kick sequence four-to-eight times.

10. Fartlek Kick Sets

Fartlek is an important training tool for every triathlete. Fartlek means ‘playing with speed’ – i.e. varying speed through a training repeat or training session. The aim of fartlek training is to develop the ability to ‘change gears’, i.e. to be able to change speed in a race as the competitive situation demands. Grab your kickboard and push off for a 400-metre kick repeat. Start off slowly with relaxed, easy, loose feet. Every 50-to-60 metres or so, accelerate your feet and kick at maximum speed for 10-to-15 metres, then relax and kick slowly and easily for the next 50-to-60 metres before once again ‘exploding’ for 10-to-15 metres. Repeat this easy/fast sequence throughout the 400 metres.


NEXT: 3 golden rules of a great swim kick


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