10 Elements of a Perfect Freestyle Stroke - Part 2

Don't miss tips 1 through 5 of this article!

Active swim guy Alex Kostich continues his article on the top 10 things to concentrate on (not at once!) to improve and lock in your freestyle stroke. Here are tips 6 through 10.

6. Sprint Flutter Kick

Kicking takes up a lot of energy, which is why it's often relegated to the last lap of an event (especially a distance event). Sprinters rely more heavily on kicking, but regardless of your specialty, it is important to master a kick that works for you. Too often, swimmers end up creating added resistance with an incorrect kick that actually serves to slow them down!

A sprint flutter kick should be a fast, underwater up-and-down motion, alternating both feet. Create as little white-water as possible and keep your feet submerged. As your body rotates (see tip No. 3), your feet should rotate with it. Be careful not to splay your feet out horizontally for balance ("scissoring") as you rotate your body from side to side.

Rather, keep your feet in alignment with the rest of yourself and avoid breaking out of the narrow path your head and shoulders cut through the water (imagine swimming through the hole in a tire, keeping your feet close together as you slide through so as not to hit the edges).

7. Distance Crossover Kick

Distance kicking differs from sprint kicking in that it's not meant to propel you forward as much as it's meant to keep your rhythm while helping you stay afloat. Indeed, in longer races, attempting a sprint flutter kick will put you into oxygen depletion within laps, and you will crash and burn.

In races lasting a half-mile or more, it's best to maintain a crossover kick, which is when you cross your ankles with each (or every other) kick. Crossover kicking comes naturally to some swimmers while seeming extremely unnatural to others. Not surprisingly, sprinters tend to gravitate toward a sprint flutter kick while distance swimmers find themselves crossing over.

Concentrate on what comes naturally to you, then try the different technique and see how it feels. Remember that the crossover kick is meant to be less physically exerting for longer events, and is thus not as effective as a means of propulsion. However, it is extremely useful in keeping one's lower body afloat while conserving valuable energy during endurance events.

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