4 Sets to Develop a More Powerful Kick

This was originally published at YourSwimBook.com. Join Olivier’s weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.

Sean Baker, head coach of the Oakville Aquatics (OAK) club in Oakville, Ontario, shared these sets with me recently that are designed specifically to improve your kick.

Coach Baker has been coaching at a high level since the 1990’s, and has placed numerous athletes on international teams of all stripes, including the Olympics and World Championships (where one of his charges won an individual bronze medal in the women’s 200m breaststroke in 1997).

At the most recent Canadian Olympic Trials OAK sent nearly 30 athletes to the meet, while also capturing a Canadian Age Group Championship title that summer, while also placing second amongst clubs at Canadian Summer Nationals.

On the back of these achievements Baker was awarded national club coach of the year honors for 2012.

Here are the four kick-centric sets, including some of the times posted by one of his current swimmers, Evan White (who swam a 1:59 200IM LCM last summer at the Canadian Swimming Trials to win his first senior national championship).

As you can see from the results that White throws down on the final set, in order to swim fast you must have a fast kick.

SEE ALSO: How to Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kick

Alex Popov had a lightning fast kick (:27 seconds for a 50 long course), and other sprinters from Nathan Adrian, Cesar Cielo and more have all extolled the necessity of having a thunderous kick powering your swimming.

Here are the sets:

SET #1

2-3 rounds of–

  • 300 shoe kick [25m using only weak leg, 75m both legs focusing on distance per kick] + [Using weight belt (10% of swimmer’s body weight)]
  • 100 kick w. fins distance per kick
  • 1×50 kick for time

See Also: Swimming Goggles: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

SET #2

2 rounds of–

  • 5min wall kick with shoes
  • 8×50 @1:30 best average kick
  • 8×25 @:40 with fins alternating– Odds reps: underwater FAST, Even reps: kick blast!
  • 10-20 streamlined wall jumps high fast after every round

SET #3

2 rounds of–

  • 300 quiet kick (No bubbles, no splash)
  • 8×25 @:45 Beaver kick fast (no board, streamline with head up) Add weight belt when good enough.
  • 1×50 as– 25m swim fast, 25 underwater fast

SET #4

24×100 @1:40 (this interval was used for SCM)

  • 100’s broken down as: 50 swim at specified pace, 50 kick within +10/+8/+6
  • Evan White did this set backstroke and worked his way down to a :28 for the first 50m swim, and then :30 for the 50m kick during his prep for the 1:59 200IM last year.

Ready to Dominate the Competition?

YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.

Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt now.

Join the YourSwimBook weekly newsletter group and get motivational tips and more straight to your inbox. Sign up for free here.


Leave a Reply

4 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Galactically awful kick

Can you elaborate on some of the terminology used in the sets above?

shoe kick I assume means kicking with shoes on.

what kind of fins should be used? Larger fins or zoomers?

“Odds reps: underwater FAST, Even reps: kick blast!” huh? what’s he difference between FAST and blast? Are underwater FAST for dolphin kicks and kick blast on the surface as fast as possible?

“10-20 streamlined wall jumps high fast after every round” (I don’t even know where to begin asking about this one)

Is quiet kick supposed to be easy or just entirely underwater so no splash/bubbles?

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

You are on the right track with most of the points…

Shoes = yes.

Fins or Zoomers = *most* swimmers in my experience use zoomers. Misty Hyman used a monofin; but at the end of the day it’s up to you.

Fast = 90%, Blast = 100% effort.

Streamlined wall jumps = place arms in a streamline position, and next to a wall jump as high as you can. Helps build that explosive power for driving off the wall with speed.

Quiet kick = no bubbles.

Claudia H

Sorry I’m so dumb (and old haha) but just what are Shoe Kicks?


I can’t find the source now, but didn’t I read somewhere that kicking with shoes on is extremely hard on your knees?


Join the discussion

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 …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!