Learn Dolphin Kick Freestyle – Michael Phelps swim technique (VIDEO)

by SwimSwam 14

February 02nd, 2016 Masters, Training, Video

Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.

Michael Phelps has been finishing his IM and Freestyle races with Dolphin Kick freestyle, a swim technique we have been practicing at the Race Club for years. All sprint freestylers use a high stroke rate. Learning how to turn over the arms quickly is not always that easy. It takes strength, endurance and practice.

At The Race Club, we have used the dolphin kick freestyle swim technique to teach swimmers how to sprint faster. With this swim technique, the swimmer uses the freestyle pull timed precisely so the hand enters the water with the down kick of the dolphin kick. When synchronized with a strong dolphin kick, this technique enables the swimmer to move very fast. When timed well, the dolphin kick forces the swimmer to use a faster pulling stroke rate.

When Michael Phelps uses this swim technique his stroke rate goes from around 75 to over 100, this could be the reason for his victory over Ryan Lochte. The dolphin kick freestyle was also used by Olympic Champion Michael Klim from Australia, in the final meters of his lead off 100m freestyle on the relay at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. At that time, he spurted ahead of American Anthony Ervin and set a new world record. For either sprinting or finishing IM or freestyle races, practicing the dolphin kick freestyle drill may boost your speed especially towards the end of the race when lactic acid and fatigue kick in and, like Phelps, it may help you win some races. Don’t try the dolphin kick freestyle technique in a race without practicing it first, but with a good dolphin kick, this technique can increase your stroke rate and speed. A faster stroke rate will usually result in a faster swim and will conform more with the law of inertia.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

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14 Comments on "Learn Dolphin Kick Freestyle – Michael Phelps swim technique (VIDEO)"

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Phillip Luebke

Have any elite swimmers used dolphin-kick freestyle throughout an entire race? I realized in the early 1990s that my dolphin kick was faster than my crawl and played around with combining a dolphin kick and crawl arms in practice, but I was too chicken to ever try it in a meet.

The issue with trying it for an entire race is that you can’t take a breath while doing it. It may be possible to do for a 50, but any longer than that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Steve-O Nolan

I think Klim breathed when he did it. It might have just been a poor quality video I found, but looks to me like he did. (And look at around 2:30 in the video above, I think I see a breath? I’m on Thailand bandwidth, nothing shows up clearly hahaha.)

Not breathing definitely makes this technique a hell of a lot smoother though, turning and breathing’ll probably offset any benefit you’d get from it.

I’m aware that Phelps said he can’t breathe while doing the dolphin kick free . . . but why exactly is it “impossible” to breathe doing this? The swimmer might have to slow the turnover a bit for one cycle to snatch a breath, but I think it could be done.

Could this also be translated to backstroke?

Gary Hall Sr.

Yes, it is a little more challenging to get synchronized in backstroke, yet a very good way to teach fast stroke rate in backstroke. Too slow a stroke rate is one of the most common problems we see in backstroke.

I saw Rebecca Soni in that video. Is she still swimming?

Gary Hall Sr.

No, Rebecca is retired from elite competitive swimming, so far as we know. Just don’t challenge her to a yoga set. she will win easily.