Much has been said about the value of the underwater dolphin kick as it applies to speed off the start and turns. We went to a meet this weekend and saw a number of youngsters who indeed had nice underwater dolphin kicking going on. Some were even in the magical 15 meter range. (The rule book states that you must break the surface of the water at a point no more than 15 meters from the wall from which you have just pushed off.)
Unfortunately for nearly all of these young swimmers by the time they had broken the surface they were going so slowly compared to their swimming speed that they actually did themselves a disservice by extending their underwater portion of the lap. So the lesson here is quite simple. Each swimmer has a breakout point that is correct for them based upon their own individual talent. That talent is measured by how fast they can swim to any given point in the lap. Some swimmers have such little ability when it comes to underwater dolphin kicking that it has no real value for them.
We suggest that you time yourself, or your swimmers, to 15 meters or some fixed point part way down the pool – like the lifeguard chair - and then figure out the best combination of swimming and kicking that gets you to that point the quickest. That way you will know how much or how little to kick underwater.
To be sure, the fastest swimmers in the world do know how to use the underwater portion of the swim to their own individual ability. It makes perfect sense to us that each of us does the same regardless of our overall speed. The goal is to swim efficiently. To be successful we need to know what is most effective for us personally. Play with the idea and let us know how it goes for you!