I've been a pretty good swimmer all my life as well as a runner. What's always escaped me as a swimmer is a decent flutter kick - either doing freestyle or backstroke. I'm actually embarassed by it - it takes me almost 2 minutes to cross a 25m pool in a kick drill! It's probably because I have absolutely no arch and am almost totally flat footed. My legs (and feet) are very strong due to daily runs, which is the only reason why I can hold out and eventually make it across the pool. My breast stroke and Butterfly kicks are very good, just flutter kicking of any sort doesn't get me anywhere.
Is it really necessary though? If you have a strong upper body and aren't a 'sinker', really as long as you keep your legs from sinking to the bottom that's ok isn't it?
I've tried endless drills and exercises for flexibility - at most I can get down to around a minute and a half to cross the pool. Besides having my ankles and feet broken and reset or the standard drills, does anyone have any other suggestions? I've pretty much given up on trying to improve it in the meantime.
My kick is the same way and I've deemed it pretty useless as far as propulsion goes. I've read in an Active.com article that for distance swimming you only really need your kick to keep your feet and legs from dropping in the water. As long as you've got that covered, I'd guess you're fine. For what it's worth, it also mentioned not to kick too aggressively (again, while distance swimming only as sprints are a different animal) as the leg muscles are relatively large and therefore require more oxygen causing you to need to breathe more frequently.
All the coaching and advice I have received over the years says to save your legs for the bike and run and don't waste energy by doing a lot of kicking during the swim. Also, since most tri's are wet suit you'll have bouyancy for your legs to support your body from the suit. Like you I don't go anywhere with my kick so I concentrate my swim time on getting my stroke stronger. Now if the triathon swim required we swim breaststroke it would be another story...............
It's necessary in that it's part of good technique. It's not necessary to be able to propel yourself with just your legs. A kick drill is just that: a drill to help you focus on your kick. If you're not powerful, don't worry. Wear short fins so you don't feel like you have to go into overdrive. But focus on kicking from the hip and keeping good control of your legs. You want your kick to keep your body horizontal and to help you rotate. You don't want your legs to over-rotate, or be sloppy and wander around.
I am new at triathlons, two years now, and have had an excellent tri coach since I started. He has cautioned me from focusing too much on the kick during freestyle as it raises your heart rate rapidly if you overdo it. Use your kick to propel yourself forward using a rhythm. He also explained that your kick should help you rock from side to side and keep you straight and stable in the water, focusing on forward motion. At the end of the swim, in a triathlon, kick a bit harder as your approach the beach to get your legs warmed up for the bike.
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