It occurs to us as we watch our sport progress that most everyone now fully acknowledges that underwater dolphin kicking is extremely fast and therefore a beneficial skill to possess and refine. Upon reflection it is perplexing that it took “us” – the collective sport – the better part of 30 years to come to this realization. It is especially confounding when we all saw it with our own eyes or via the image on the TV screen.
DavidBerkoff, trained by Joe Bernal, won the 1988 Olympic 100 backstroke title dolphin kicking underwater for the overwhelming majority of both laps. There was no mistaking his prowess. We are told by Joe that in college (he went to Harvard) David kicked a 50 in a free relay underwater in the low 20 point range, maybe it was even 19 high – we cannot remember…and it – the time – doesn’t matter. What matters is that this athlete demonstrated a better (faster) way to “skin the cat”.
Now the whole world buys it. In the last decade or two several dozen athletes bought in but still the masses wouldn’t allocate the resources to acquiring this skill. What resources you may ask…simple…spend the time learning how to do it; then commit to doing it in a race.
So many coaches are preoccupied with building aerobic bases that they will not allocate the time to developing this critical skill. But wait, when you hold your breath under water for ½ a lap – every lap – you are actually building your aerobic capacity AND refining your dolphin kicking prowess…two birds with one stone; nice!
So what are coaches and swimmers going to be saying, “We need to do this” in the next 10-30 years? If you as a coach or swimmer can identify that one (or more) item(s) you will be a trend setter instead of a follower. We have been both and the former is much preferred. It gives you an edge. In the world of competition, edges make a huge difference.
We know you are out there, reading this. If you will share your thoughts, we will publish them anonymously, in hopes of stimulating a major positive breakthrough. One of the most significant positive attributes about our sport is the willingness to share. Let’s see if we can do so with this question as the cornerstone of the discussion…
What is next?