10 Minutes a Day to a Faster Underwater Dolphin Kick

If you have been hanging around these parts over the summer you know that I have been border-line obsessed with improving my kick.

From throwing together a monster guide on how to improve your underwater dolphin kick, to showcasing some kick sets performed by Canadian National Team member Evan White, to outlining a list of reasons to work on both your flutter kick and your fly kick there has been no shortage of material on the topic.

With the critical importance of the UDK from the 50 to the 1500m every swimmer who is serious about maxing out their performance in the pool needs to be paying attention to what can make up as much as 60% of their race.

Today I want to share with you a set that I have been guinea-pigging myself with over the past couple weeks and have experienced fairly hysterical results.

Before we get into the set, here is what you will need to perform it:

  • A pool.
  • A bathing suit.
  • About 10 minutes of your day.
  • Two weeks of consistent application.
  • A hearty attitude for hilariously powerful underwater kicking.
  • A pair of DragSox, or two ratty t-shirts will do if you don’t feel like throwing down $30 for the DragSox.
  • Zoomers or short fins.

The set is simple, and can be done at the end of your workout, before the main set, after warm-up, or whatever. It can be done as a bonus set in addition to the workout your coach prescribes.

My suggestion?  Do it as a pre-main set so that your underwater fly kick game is on point for the main set.

(The whole point of improving the UDK is to apply it to the high paced, quality work in your swimming so that it is relevant to competition speeds. Having a beautiful UDK is nice, but if it’s not hauling you from one end of the pool to the other faster than your swimming speed than there isn’t much use to it.)

After doing this set 7 times over the course of two weeks here is what I noticed:

  • It was much easier to kick out further with my underwaters.
  • Developed a much greater feel for the water with my feet.
  • Combined with consistent ankle-loosening work before practice I was soon getting a fuller feeling range of motion. (Fuller is just about the only word I can find to describe it. You’ll know what I mean after doing the set even just once or twice.)
  • The power in my kick improved noticeably. The snap of the toes is snappier, the whip motion from the hips markedly stronger.
  • My streamline feels extra gangster. The extra resistance that comes with the DragSox forces you to really really tighten up your arms into your head.

With the set, feel free to play around with the specifics. The interval or number of reps isn’t set in stone. The interval was designed to get :15 seconds of rest after each 25, but if you feel like that isn’t enough, take more.

Remember, the main focus during the set is to explode off the walls and hammer those dolphin kicks and get to the 15m/y mark as fast as possible.

Here is the set:

20×25 @:35

  • FAST underwater dolphin kick to 15m (12.5m okay for when not wearing fins)
  • Wearing DragSox for all of them.
  • Wear fins for the last 10.
  • Alternate on front and on back by 25.
  • Streamline must be tight and legit.
  • Aggressive break-out; swim easy to wall.

And that’s it.

Simple, really.

If you have never used DragSox before I couldn’t recommend them enough. The drag they add to your legs force them to work overtime in a form of resistance that is extremely swim-specific and hard to duplicate otherwise.

And more importantly, when you take them off and swim a lap at even moderately high speed you will feel like someone strapped a jetpack to your back.


See Also: The Butterfly Stroke: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Your Turn

Give the set a go for a couple weeks and let me know how it goes either via the YourSwimBook newsletter (it’s free, yo), or Tweet me on the Twitter thing.

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5 years ago

Please help, because I’m a parent, not a swimmer. How do you kick for the first 15 yds THEN put on fins for the last 10 yds?

Where do you keep the fins for those first 15 yds? Doesn’t it interrupt your workout to stay afloat while putting on the fins?


Reply to  swimmom
5 years ago

The last 10 is referring to the last 10 repeats. So you will do 10×25 without fins and then 10×25 with fins.

5 years ago

What are DragSox? What do they help accomplish? Are they for drag (as the same would suggest)? Are they for added surface area (to increase flexibility? or speed?)?

5 years ago

Can ask a question, when I do dolphin kicks I create alot of drag during my up kick, And I think it because I’m focusing to much on my knees and bending them to much, so does the knee bend come from keeping the joint lose, or does it come from bending your knees?

Juan C
Reply to  Ok
5 years ago

Sounds like maybe your hamstrings are to tight, they are responsable of flexing your knees, try loosen them up in dryland first. I spend to many time in the deskjob, 5 hours a day of sitting, what I do is mimic the barbell or dumbbell romanian deadlift, works like a charm to remove that low back, hip and hams stiffnes. Hope that helps.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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