Want to improve your kick, your finishing speed, and your overall hotness as a swimmer? Then it’s time you get some more kick/swim sets in your life.
The kick/swim set is a staple in the diet of the training of a competitive swimmer. Like meat and potatoes.
It’s designed to help improve leg fitness, while also getting you to develop a stronger connection between your kick and your swimming. The kick/swim set, in all its variations, frequencies and intervals, is a powerful weapon in your swim set arsenal.
The Kick/Swim Set Will Supercharge Your Kicking Fitness
The main reason your coach likes to use these types of sets is that kick speed is a predictor of overall swim speed.
Although for most swimmers and coaches this is common sense, research has also shown that kick speed is a significant indicator of how fast swimmers, err, swim.
Swimmers whose kick isn’t as strong will say that kicking only contributes to a tiny amount of actual propulsion, and they would be right. It doesn’t contribute a whole lot of speed when you measure it directly.
But your kick does a whole lot more than just push you forward.
More Kicking Resources:
How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kick. Our flagship guide with tips from Olympic gold medalists, coaches, biomechanists, and even a space scientist!
How to Improve Your Breaststroke Kick. 2-time Olympian Mike Alexandrov shares his favorite tips and drills for improving the hardest kick of all to master–the breaststroke.
How to Develop an Unstoppable Freestyle Kick. Ready to take your kick to the next level? Here’s everything you need to know about building a legendary free kick.
The 9 Best Kickboards for Swimmers. Our full breakdown of the top kickboards on the planet for faster swimming.
It helps you keep your body properly aligned, helps you take stronger arm movements via hip rotation, and perhaps most noticeably, keeps your technique from falling apart like a two-dollar swim cap.
Kick/swim sets are awesome because they will:
- Improve your kicking speed. By getting some added time on the kick board, or by strapping a swim snorkel on your head and streamline kicking your way across the pool, will improve your kick speed. Simple as that.
- Simulate race fatigue. Your legs are always the first to go during a race. Training them to fatigue, and then swimming while maintaining kick tempo will help condition you for those brutal last 25’s, 50’s and 100’s when your legs turn to cement.
- Plug in your kick to your swimming. Keeping the kick tempo the same once you transition to swimming is the real secret to making this set work for you. In other words, kick with the same intensity and rate whether you are swimming or kicking.
Here are a few sample kick sets that I have been doing as part of a general prep training phase:
- 30×100 as 50 kick, 50 free swim @1:30 (every 5th one fast!)
- 21×50 as 25 kick with no board (one arm up, on side), 25 build @:50
- 10×100 as 50 kick, 50 swim @3 (take 100 swim PB, add 20 seconds, and this is your goal time)
In all three instances maintain the same kick tempo from on the kickboard to your swimming.
The Swim/Kick Set for Sprinters
If you want more of a challenge, here is a variation of the basic swim/kick set that was sent over by one of my old coaches, Sean Baker, the head coach of Oakville Aquatic Club, one of the top age group and senior national programs in Canada.
This set was originally designed to be done with a kick board, and done short course, but you could easily do it long course as well (without a board).
5 rounds through—
5×50 @:45 fast!
- 1st 50: Kick
- 2nd 50: Kick/swim
- 3rd 50: Swim
- 4th 50: Swim/kick
- 5th 50: Kick
100 kick + 100 swim easy between rounds
More Stuff Like This:
The Ultimate List of Swim Practices for Competitive Swimmers. Our ever-growing list of workouts and sets from some of the top swimmers and coaches on the planet, including Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps, and more.