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Importance of the Kick

March 18, 2012

Exhale. It’s been a little crazy around here as you can imagine. The past ten days were incredibly and exciting & stressful. Who knew one simple tweet would cause so much hullabaloo? Well, I guess that depends on who you tweet. A few updates:

1.  We are on track to roll out fundraising on Tuesday.

2. Links: over there on the right you see two images, The top one will take you directly to our fundraising page on Tuesday. The image of Mr. Armstrong is the link to buy tickets. Remember, if you want in on this event you must buy a ticket to his speech. It’s at 8pm at UB. This will be the MOST important piece. You will also need to attend that speech!

3. Fundraising ideas: I am working with some teachers on fabulous ideas on getting our kids involved, if you have any other fund-raising ideas or suggestions please send them to Lauren at Lauren.Spiker “at” Teenslivingwithcancer “dot” org. (remember, I am just a volunteer. A loud one, but a volunteer!). Any that I receive I will send to her, as this is what she’s the expert at.

4. Mr. Armstrong: Many have asked if I have been in direct contact with Mr. Armstrong. Yes I have. What’s he like? Very nice, straightforward, and clear. I can’t imagine living this man’s life. I thought I was busy. For example the morning of the kick off he will be riding a 70.3 course in a different state, heading to Buffalo and then bam bam bam bam…. his afternoon and evening is packed. It stuns me that he is even making time for the kick off. If it were me in his shoes I’d be like…. sister I just want to take a nap. And trust me he’s not making time to race me per se….. he’s making time to help our cause. That causes me to gain an even deeper respect for what he does and represents. It makes me think….. if he can do this… we can do this. I have had people tell me that the rumor is that he’s kind of an ass…. and I don’t get that impression at all. Like I said I think he’s nice, straightforward and professional. The Lancanity feeling that so many of us get with this man is replaced by a very strong feeling of professionalism and committment from him to the cause of fighting Cancer. And that makes me even prouder to be fighting the same fight.

Now how about that kick?

I swear my college coach is going to have a ninth heart attack. Distance swimmers aren’t particularly known for their stellar kicking abilities. Actually…. many don’t kick at all (deep breath Eggers, of course that doesn’t involve you).

In my opinion all parts of the swim stroke are equally important. The kick too. It might be the least important part but it plays an integral role in the balance of your stroke.

Here at QT2 Systems we utilize a protocol that enables us to use the kick as an assessment of the balance of your stroke. We have athletes swim a 100 free without kicking, then kick a 50 (this is actually where the kick off idea was born). We take those times and determine how we can better balance your stroke. Beyond that here are a few tips that you can add to your regular training that will help strengthen your kick without destroying your legs for the bike and run.

1. Vertical kicking: Adding some vertical kicking to your workouts is probably the number one way to strengthen the back-end. In the deep end engage a flutter kick style kick for 60-90 seconds (a good rest interval is 30 seconds) and kick. No fins. Add difficulty to this by taking hands out of the water, taking arms into a streamline position above your head and even holding a diving brick, which are usually about 10 pounds. A set I like is 4 X 1:30 vertical kick with 30 seconds rest. During that 90 seconds try having hands in the water for 30 seconds, out of the water for 30 and then streamline for 30.

2. Kicking with fins: There are a lot of styles of fins out there. I like just a plain mid length fin, I am a simple girl. Fins can help increase ankle flexibility and strengthen your hip flexors. I tend to use fins for moderate more aerobic sets like 200 or 400 kicks.

3. K repeats: I just made this term up this week, but it’s similar to your T time, or your 100 yard repeat time. Simply kick a 50 hard, and that time is your K time. Nw your 50 kick intervals can be on K time +10,20 etc. It gives you a good baseline.

4. 2 beat, 4 beat, 6 beat what? While it sounds like something you’d hear in music class it’s really how fast you kick. Most distance swimmers employ a two beat kick, meaning they kick twice per arm stroke cycle. An arm stroke cycle is two strokes. This is considered to be a slow kick, while a 6 beat kick is an obviously faster kick. For what triathletes need to accomplish in the water a two beat kick is normally the kick we would like, however everyone is different.

Although we are slower kickers and sometimes we don’t kick at all (guilty) there are a few important things that an effective kick can bring to your swim:

1. The kick can help lift the back-end of your body up, to help you attain a better position in the water.

2. A good kick will avoid being a big drag to the stroke, whereas those of us you who don’t kick tend to have more of a drag factor.

3. A good kick will drive your rotation.

I usually swim with a pull buoy because it gives me the same feeling as when I wear my wetsuit. These days it seems like there are more and more races that are sans wetsuit. One of my professional friends got a new wetsuit sponsor last season and went through an entire professional season not wearing the suit due to warm water temperatures. So wearing the pull buoy only… will hinder you in the long run.

To me every piece of the stroke is important. Juts like on the bike positioning, tires, conditioning…. they all play into the mix.

When people tell em the swim is not important I remind them of this simple fact:

Ironman World Championships 2006. Desiree Ficker lost to Michellie Jones by about 7 minutes. Desire ride faster and ran faster. Jones swam about 7 minutes faster.

It’s all important. Even more so when you are racing against a 7 time Tour de France Camp too!

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