A Kick Set for Faster Foot Speed in the Water

A Kick Set for Faster Foot Speed in the Water

If you’ve been around here in the past couple months you’ve noticed that I am on a full blown kick bender.

From putting together a comprehensive underwater dolphin kick guide, to sets for developing kick power, we’ve covered reasons to work both on your underwater fly kick and your flutter kick.

Why so much focus on kick?


Simply put: Elite swimmers understand the importance of having a monster kick.

From Popov to Phelps the greats all have otherworldly kicks that help drive them across the pool at rocket speed.

They intuitively understand that having a very strong lower body not only helps you propel through the water faster (that sounds important!), but it can also help you maintain body position and stroke integrity in the latter portions of your workouts and races.

In other words, a strong kick helps you swim like a demon and stops you from dying so bad at the tail-end of your races.

Over the course of this series of articles I have occasionally heard the argument that because a swimmer has a bad kick, they should simply focus on their upper body more.

Or that because the legs are the biggest muscles in the body, and as a result tire quicker, kick work should be avoided.


It’s precisely those swimmers that should be working on their kick.

Yes, your legs are thick with muscle. But avoiding training them simply because you presently perceive them as a weakness means you are leaving a ton of added speed on the table.

At the end of the day, if you want to swim fast you need to be able to kick fast.


A Kick Set for Faster Foot Speed in the Water

What You Need to Know About This Set

Recently I did a kick workout that was designed specifically for the sprint to middle distance crowd.

It’s purpose was to accomplish a handful of things:

  • Help you learn to kick in a narrow, drag-reduced position.
  • Develop power and strength in your legs while doing a technically efficient kick.
  • Teach you to focus on the up-kick portion on your kick.
  • Building general aerobic capacity in your legs.
  • While also translating these aspects to your swimming so that you can add your awesome new kick to your stroke and move faster through the water.

Before we jump into the set, here are the things/terms you need to know:

“Happy Feet/Mail Slot” Kick:

This is a freestyle kicking drill that is the main focus of the set.

With a kickboard (or in a streamline with a snorkel), this is kicking where you focus specifically on kicking very quickly from the ankles while keeping the slimmest possible profile in the water.

This kind of kicking is fun, you will sense as though you are skipping across the top of the water (which is the goal) from the low drag.

Remember: fast, loose (happy!) feet, sleek profile in the water. You, my chlorinated homeslice, are the Sunday paper and you are going to kick right through the mail slot.

Single Leg Kicking:

Single leg kicking is great for a couple reasons:

  1. It requires you to brace your core in order to stabilize your body in the water. Bracing your core also has the benefit of giving you a stronger body line. You’ll notice that the moment you tighten your belly and glutes that your hips will nearly rise up out of the water. This is a good thing. It simulates the body position you want when swimming so don’t fight it.
  2. And you can really dial in on the up-kick in order to maintain a steady rate of propulsion. In other words, you shouldn’t be stopping and starting when doing single leg kick. The goal is to keep a steady speed, requiring you to kick with equal force on both the upward and downward phases of the kick.

With the single leg kicking you want to carry over the narrow and fast aspects of Happy Feet kicking. (So basically, you are doing single leg Happy Feet kick.)

Cruise Swimming:

There are some cruise 50s (70-80% intensity) at the end of each round. With these 50’s of moderate intensity swimming you are going to carry those loose, fast feet, your braced core, and your active up-kick and incorporate it into your swimming.

This is the moment where we apply the stuff we were working on while on the kickboard, so remember to stay focused and keep your kick fast and awesome.

The Options Are Endless:

There are countless ways to adapt this set.

Play around with the distances, the intervals, and how many rounds you go through the set. As long as you are doing it with money technique, and adhering to the focus points of the set, screw around with the set as much as ya like.

Similarly, feel free to throw on some gear for this set. I like to mix up my kick work with short fins, and also wearing short fins and DragSox (my new favorite piece of swim gear).

Also, don’t stress too much about rest or intervals.

At heart this is a technical set, so take the required rest in order to do it properly.

And with all of that out of the way here we gooooo…


3 rounds through–

200 free kick with board Happy Feet

200 free kick with board single leg [alternate legs by 50]

<Rest– :15 sec from the next :60 or :30>

4×50 swim cruise @1

  • Round 1: Regular kick
  • Round 2: Short fins + DragSox
  • Round 3: Short fins

More Stuff Like This:

The Monofin: Your Weapon for a Killer Dolphin Kick. Want to level up your underwaters? Learn how a Monofin is one of the most potent weapons for taking your fly kick to the next level.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of YourSwimLog.com. He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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