I want to talk with you today about kicking. Some of you might consider kicking to be one of the most boring things about our sport, but I am going to try and get you to look at it a little differently because I really believe strongly in it. It doesn’t matter if your swimmers are six years old or twenty-six years old. We are all trying to make them go fast. And kicking is a big part of that.
I am going to try and make kicking interesting, and tell you the reasons why we decided to put more emphasis on it than we did before.
One thing to remember about kicking is that it takes more time to do it. We are all a little reluctant to try things that take more time because they take away from the total amount of swimming yardage that we are trying to do. And, as swimmers and as coaches, it’s been ingrained in us that yardage is important. I think sometimes we need to shed a little bit of yardage because more is not necessarily better. If more were better, then the hundreds of thousands of yards we were doing in the 1980s would now be two-hundred thousands of yards. We are not doing that, but we are still getting faster so that shows that more is not always better. We are just getting better at what we are doing.
Here is some video of Simon Burnett’s 200-yard freestyle race at this year’s NCAAs. I want you to watch the guy who is out front. Watch what is going on from his hips down. Do not misunderstand me – this is a very gifted young man. This is not something amazing that we have done with him. This guy is capable of doing this and he is capable of doing a lot more. When this tape was rolling – when it was going live – Rowdy Gaines, who was a great 200 swimmer in his own right, was announcing it and he kept saying, “Look at this guy kick. His kick is amazing.” You can see that he is out in 44.4. They really zoomed in on Burnett’s kick and you can see what we call thunder in the back. And Rowdy said, “This is a 200 freestyle and his kick is just as strong now as it was at the very beginning.” And he repeated that several times and I thought – well – first of all – Rowdy, you are incredibly insightful and, by the way, his last two 50s were 23.0 and 23.6 so he got home in 46.7 which is a pretty good split for most 200 freestylers to go out in. So he was out in 44.4 and back in 46.7, for a 1:31 200 freestyle.
Swimming has changed. Look at the guy who holds the world record in the mile – Hackett. The guy six-beat kicks the whole thing. Look at Larsen Jensen, the American record holder in the 1500 – six-beat kicks the whole thing.
I am going to follow this up with video of a couple of kicking drills that we do. This is Simon Burnett using a snorkel for something we call the bow-and-arrow drill — or we just call it the bow drill. This drill is all about kicking and we do a lot of this and we do it on the clock.
Here is Whitney Myers doing the same drill. When you’ve got one arm down and your fingertips are pointed down, there is resistance against the back of your hand and your forearm. You are learning how to carry yourself in a relatively flat position. If you are doing a drill and you are rotated past 45 degrees you are wasting your time because you do not want to be rotated.
Here is another kid on the team – Lyndon Ferns – doing what we call a 12-o’clock drill. Again, the emphasis is on the kick. Here’s Simon Burnett doing the same 12-beat drill — kicking 12 times per cycle. I just wanted to show you those because what I am going to tell you in regard to kicking and my philosophy – it is just what we do and I have some history as to why we made these changes. We just looked at the best. We looked at a guy who just broke an NCAA record and US Open record in the fastest 200-yard freestyle swim of all time and you saw there was a tremendous amount of kick behind it. This is what I believe.
I talked to a lot of great coaches at Nationals this summer and I asked them: What are two ingredients in your program that you can’t do without? I always like to ask coaches that kind of stuff and you know something? Out of eight coaches, six of them said KICKING was one of the two ingredients they couldn’t do without. So I thought – well they all stole my ideas and I am pissed off now. But it just goes to show you what some of the best coaches are thinking about when they are training their kids.
We have heard a lot about balance and maintaining your stroke and everything else. But if you have a great kick, then your body position is probably going to be better. And if your body position is good, then you can use your oars for the purpose of getting you through the water. If you have a kick that is in the cylinder and you are not losing your balance with your feet scissoring out — I am talking freestyle and backstroke right now –- then you have got better body position. You are riding high in the water. You can use your arms for one reason and one reason only and that is to go through the water fast. That is my blue-collar way of looking at the sport.
Having a big kick and a good body position leads to a better catch. You catch the water better and that is for all strokes – butterfly and breaststroke included. You have a better catch, better body position – it makes a lot of sense. You are moving through the water better – forward movement. You do not have to worry about balance so much and you all know what I am talking about with balance. You watch somebody take a breath and they either drop their shoulder or they are out here and they are sculling with their hand or their hand just slides out to correct the over-rotation or the fact that their feet just scissored. Why even worry about that?
If you get a thunder kick – as their hips are rotating, it maintains consistency – it will keep their body up and they will not have to worry about balancing anything because they are moving forward. It is kind of like the principle of the bike – you know – when you are on the bike and you are going slow, your balance is not so great. But if you are moving fast, it is easy to keep your balance and I look at it the same way in swimming. If your kick is really good, your balance should be really good. And when you think about how you set that up and how simple it is and how much sense it makes to build the stroke from the back…the bottom…the kick, then you can take it to the next phase, which is how the body rides. And then you take it to the next phase, which is how the oars – the arms — pull it through the water. And that is my way of looking at it.
To build up the kick we do quite a bit of running. Running does not necessarily make your kicking better. There are a lot of great runners who probably couldn’t kick their way out of a paper bag; however, it is a great way to get fit and I do believe it builds strength in the legs – depending on what you are doing and how you are running.
We run three different ways. We run for distance, we run intervals, and we run stadiums. We do that for the first six weeks of our program. It is a variation of different things, but I believe in running and I think it definitely builds strength in your legs and I think it is probably more cardiovascular and I also think it is more just general fitness. We do a lot of running and I just want to throw that in there.
To build up the kick we also work on core strength. You kick from your core. This is what holds your limbs together so if the core is strong then it is easier to breathe. Your breathing can be more controlled. You are more efficient with it. Your strength is here, which your legs and arms are hanging onto, so we do a lot of core building.
We do a lot of different things to build core strength and we do that every day before we get in the pool.
We also do some fin kicking. Now, a lot of coaches do not feel that fins are a great thing. But I look at fins in a couple of different ways and we use kind of a floppy fin. If we are using fins – whether for kicking or swimming — we are using them for speed. We are trying to go through the water fast. If you are going fast with fins it drives the heart rate up and high heart rates are a good thing in our sport and maintaining a high heart rate is a good thing.
I do not know what your philosophy is about swimming fast, but whether it is a guy swimming a 50 or a guy swimming a 1650, it’s all about who is able to swim the farthest faster. By that I mean if you watch guys swim 50 meters and some of them kind of lose control the last 10 meters and you look at a guy who swims 1500 meters and maybe at some point his heart rate gets out of the range that he is able to control and instead of going minute flats at a 170 heart rate, he’s holding 1:02s and his heart rate is up to 180. So how do you swim faster further? Well, you train the body to swim farther at a faster heart rate. Now, that is the only way that I can think to do it and so when you put fins on you can go for a ways, you can kick fast for a long time and you can keep the heart rate up for a long time so it is just another angle that we use.
We do a lot of snorkel kicking and we tape our snorkels up. Snorkels generally come with a pretty good size hole, but we use about a pin hole and I am not so sure exactly what that does except I know that it does something good. Now, when they get to their 40th birthday and they go in for a physical checkup and they find that there is deterioration to the lungs because the CO2 never got out of the tube the whole time – they were always just sucking it in – then maybe that is a problem. But for right now, their body is learning how to operate on a very impure gas we will call it.
So, we tape our snorkels up a lot and we try and go fast with snorkels. Sometimes we go slow with snorkels. We do lots of drills with snorkels. We do a lot of kicking with snorkels. You can kick in the streamline position and you can kick with your arms down at your side – it doesn’t really matter, but we use snorkels and we use them a lot and I just kind of stumbled upon some things with it and, like I said, I am not a physiologist and I do not know a whole heck of a lot about particular things, but I know one thing: If you can go fast and the air you are breathing isn’t real good, then when you take that snorkel off at the end of the year and you race and you have really good air, you ought to be faster. That is just a theory, as Eddie calls it.
We do some flexibility, too, but we do not do any organized stretching before we get into the pool. College kids are busy and I know there are a lot of them busy wasting time, but they are busy. We try to make sure they don’t waste a lot of time, but they are busy. They get up, they swim early in the morning. They go to class. They try and catch some rest. They come back to the practice. They try and grab something to eat and they try and study a little bit and so flexibility is not something that we spend a lot of time on because it is just a time thing and you prioritize anything in your program. There are some things you can live with and some things you can’t live without. When I asked the coaches – give me two ingredients you can’t live without — and six out of eight coaches said – kicking. So, you decide – what it is going to be.
At the beginning of the year I give everybody a partner and we work on flexibility. We have had several kids who were very flexible, but I will never forget Beth Bosford. She could sit on the deck and point her toes and literally touch her toes to the deck. Now that is a freak that can do that and Beth was an incredible athlete. And then there are athletes that are still pretty fast that cannot touch their hands to the floor. And they say, well coach – what the heck – why should I be any more flexible? I am already really fast. I am whatever I can do well.
I know flexibility is a good thing so we spend a lot of time working on ankle flexibility because if Beth Boxford could touch her toes down and I’ve got guys that the best they could do is about that – if I could get them to there I know it is an improvement. So we work on their ankle flexibility and there are a couple of things that we do. We sit on the deck and have people stand on their feet and we ask them to move their butt back so it begins to straighten their legs out and they don’t like that very much, but they do this on their own. They also have partners so it is not something that we take a lot of time in our program to do.
We do a lot of resistance with kicking too and what I mean by resistance – we have some racks that we use and I really like that part because anything that you can do that is going to assist you in some sort of resistance in the movement I think is a good thing, provided they don’t lose their line or they don’t lose their technique on what they are doing. Some coaches will kick against the wall for a while and some use shoes and they use a variety of different things with kicking. In our case, we just tie up to these racks and we kick. One of the things that we do – we do underwater – particularly underwater for our backstroke because I think it has helped our backstrokers a lot. We will try and do 25s with a full bucket and that is a lot of weight to be pulling.
The last thing that I think is really important in regard to kicking is being consistent. If you believe in something – do it. Don’t be one of those coaches that starts off the season with too many things that you want to do. Just pick out the things that are most important to you and do those. Probably four or five would be the maximum number that you would choose. If you’ve got more than that then — in my opinion –- your plate is way too full. If you pick out a few things, be consistent with them. And if kicking is one of them, then you need to be consistent with your kicking. You need to do it. And as I said at the very beginning – unfortunately if you do a lot of kicking it is taking some time away from the number of laps you are going to do and then you start thinking – am I doing enough? Am I getting enough in? Well, you have to be the judge of that. But I do believe that there is a place where you look at the whole picture and you say – doing a 3,000-meter kick set is probably equally or more important than doing a 7,000-meter practice.
I am in that space, so I am going to tell you what we do on a weekly basis and how we got to this. First, let me tell you that I try to do something different every year and I am not very creative – that is just not the way I think. But I like to do something different because I need to force myself, not only to be creative but also to keep the interest of my athletes. I also like to do something different for the sake of difference sake. So about four years ago I decided that we were going to go from ten practices to nine practices a week. Instead of going Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday mornings, we went to Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results and I am going to tell you why. First, I think the average college student doesn’t go to bed until 11 o’clock most nights and a lot of nights maybe not until 12. If they are getting up at 5:20 or 5:30 for practice, they are not getting the right amount of sleep.
So it wasn’t until it dawned on me to actually ask one of my athletes – what kind of rest are you getting — and they told me what time they went to bed at night and I thought – holy smokes! I realized that, #1, I needed to talk to them about that and, #2, maybe doing a whole lot more practices isn’t the best thing for a college athlete. Maybe we could extend the time that we do, but we need to back off maybe the number of mornings that we get up.
Okay, so I am in a panic – I am starting to think something different out of the box than I had been doing for – I don’t know – 20-some odd years. I am getting a little nervous. I am about ready to give up yardage and I am thinking – oh God – where do we start? This is just not going to be any good – got to make it up some other place. Well, I thought, we lift weights on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon before we get into practice and I thought, all right, we are getting out of the weight room and we are going to do a good job in the weight room because we used to do our lifting in the mornings when we were doing four mornings a week. We are going to go with the afternoons. We are doing our lifting Tuesday/Thursday. We also do it on Saturdays, so what am I going to do with a bunch of athletes that have just pumped a lot of iron for an hour and 15 minutes. What am I going to do with them in the pool? And I kept thinking – all right – what am I going to do here? They are tired – we can’t do pulling sets. Some coaches think – man – just get in there and start speed work right after you have done weights. Ahhh, I don’t know if I believe that – I am not smart enough to think that way.
So I got an idea here. About 80% of our weight work is done from the hips up. Their legs have got to be fresh. We are going to pound their legs. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays we come out of the weight room – now I have to tell you first – that our distance people are not in the weight room. They have already been in the pool swimming for an hour and a half from 2 until 3:30, but when the group comes up from the weight room we get in and we start kicking. We warm-up about 800 and part of that is kicked just to get their legs warmed up and then we kick. Depending on the time of the year, the maximum we kick is about 3200 so we just jump right in and start kicking 3200 or 3000 or 2800 or 2500 or 2000. But, it is in that range somewhere.
We do mostly all of our kicking long course – don’t like the walls – it is better long course. Some people can push off the wall real well and we want to make sure that we could kick 50 meters so it is a better guide as to who is really not a good kicker and who you need to talk to and put in lane 8 so that you can walk next to them and talk to them for 3200 with a kick and tell them that if they expect to break 50 seconds for 100 meter freestyle, they need to kick better than that. They get tired of you walking next to them and talking to them two days a week about how poorly they kick and that my grandmother could do that and she has one leg with emphysema, so after a while they get the message that their kick – they stink. They are slow and if you show them films like this and say, do you want to be this good or just want to be this good? You start getting your message across so there is a difference between 2000 and 3000 kick. I really believe that – just like there is a difference between, say, a 3000 set and a 4500 or 5000 set. There is a difference. You get to a whole new level of something – whatever that level is – I like it so we kick.
We kick a lot and we spend the whole time in the water on those afternoons kicking – until practice is over. So, the distance people – after they have done maybe 6000 – they wind up kicking 3000 after that and they don’t like that too much, but you know something? It is great for your whole team to be kicking at one time because all of a sudden – things even out a little bit. You know, your sprinters can do things that your D guys can’t do all of a sudden. And they are faster and the distance guys don’t like that and the girls out-kick the guys and the guys don’t like that, and if you’ve got a whole pool of competitive stuff going on and it is good, all of a sudden it livens up the whole group, especially if you’ve got a bunch of coaches willing to throw out insults to them – to the slower ones – it makes it even more interesting.
We kick together as a team twice a week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays — and we do straight kicking for about an hour and 15 minutes. I like what I have seen and every day I pat myself on the back for that change five years ago and I am just being sarcastic when I say that but, you know, you just stumble on things that work for your program every once in a while and it turned out to be pretty good and let me emphasize that – we all – you know we are all humble human beings when it comes to this sport. The time you think you know something is the time you had better start getting pretty nervous because it is forever changing and we need to change with it. But just doing little things in your program and tweaking things a little bit keeps you interested and keeps them interested, so don’t be afraid to try some different things.
Our kick sets aren’t just all, “Okay, we are going to kick 3000 – ready go.” There are all sorts of varieties that you do with your kicking and the different ways that you do it and you can be just as creative with your kicking as you can be with swimming, and I know that many of you are very creative. I have seen some workouts written that people have done that absolutely blow my mind because I am so this, this and this and leave and I am not about doing this and trying that and mixing that in and there is a time and place for everything. And as for creative people – you have a great advantage over the rest of us types who aren’t because you are able to blend things better than we are, so don’t think that being creative is a weakness. It is a strength, but you have to be consistent with what you are doing.
Now – as far as the number of kick sets – we kick every day, too – do not misunderstand me – it is not just two days a week – we kick every day. But I just really wanted to put the emphasis on a couple of days a week because you really ring the bell on those two days and you let your team know that kicking is really important and you can have some great success.
Now I want to tell you a few simple things that we do with kicking. We do underwater kicking and all sorts of underwater kicking things. You want your backstrokers and your butterflyers to be better under water. Let’s face it – if they are not good under water, they may as well give half a bodylength to the person swimming next to them. So you tell them – okay – you don’t want to get better? All right, let’s line up here. Lanes 1, 3 and 5 – I will say GO. Then, lanes 2, 4 and 6 you go on the second GO. Now, does anybody want to play this game? It will cost you a dollar every time you lose the race. Okay, lanes 1, 3 and 5 – ready go and ready go. I mean how stupid can your athletes be if they are going to respond to you like – well coach – I can’t kick under water. Well you need to go out and be a free-throw shooter because it ain’t going to work if you are going to be a backstroker or a butterflyer in this sport.
So you have to be realistic about what you are doing and tell the kids that. You don’t have to be brutal to them, but just say look – let’s choose. Let’s watch the best – look what they are doing. Do you want to be the best? Do you want to be the best that you can be? I don’t expect you to be Michael Phelps or Brendan Hansen or someone else. But if you want to be the best that you can be, you need to try and emulate the best. Emulate guys who can kick like that. That makes great freestyle. It makes great body position. How about that? Give that a go – what do you say, Susie? And if they can look at you and go – okay – you wonder – are they really interested? But if you can sell them on stuff and they are YEAH, I want to try that – then go with it. So, if they can’t underwater kick then they probably need to be a breaststroker or something else.
Vertical kicking. We do some vertical kicking, too. We don’t do so much as we used to do, but we do some vertical kicking and something I stole from Eddie was just kind of doing 18 kicks in six seconds. You get your kick started — you get them in the streamline position — and they try to do 18 quick dolphin kicks in six seconds. And what a great concept that is! I am glad he did that and I am glad I stole it.
We work on fast feet. You need to have fast feet – pretty much every stroke needs a fast foot. You got a breaststroker with fast feet and they probably are going to be pretty good. But, you know, being able to hold a fast kick for a length of time – that is going to be somebody that has got something pretty special so we emphasize that.
I don’t know if any of you here know Bill Behrens, but I swam for Bill in high school and he was a great coach, not only in high school but also at Swim Atlanta, and he has now retired and he spends the winters out in Arizona. So Bill comes out and coaches with us through the collegiate season and then he goes back to Cincinnati, where he lives. One of Bill’s great quotes of all time is “kicking is 90% willpower.” And, you know, he said that one day to us as a coaching staff and no one ever forgot it. It is 90% willpower – kicking with a board. Oh this is great, coach! This is exciting! Let’s do this for an hour and 15 minutes straight or just let me try and get my lactate acid up so high with just my legs that my lungs are on fire and I want to spit blood. Sign me up for that one, too, and yeah, my feet are – I came out of the womb with a hooked foot, but I am in this sport and I am going to be real good at it coach so – but, I don’t like to kick. I don’t like flexibility either so you know you start – 90% willpower – how true is that?
Another good one is – you give a board to eight people across and say – we’re racing – 100 meters kick – everybody. You can absolutely fry somebody by doing that a few times. Absolutely cook them – better than any practice you will ever get. So just think about kicking. It is very blue collar. But when other coaches ask me – after I ask them what are the two most important things in their program – I tell them that kicking and running are the two things that I don’t want to give up. There are about five or six things that I don’t want to give up, but kicking and running are top priority.
So when you keep hearing that kicking is one of the two ingredients that no one wants to give up, you start thinking there must be something to that. And then you start watching people swim 1500 meters with a six-beat kick and set world records and you watch people swim 400 meters and 800 meters with a six-beat kick and set world records and 200 with a six-beat kick, which is what you would expect in 100s and 50s – well – it is obvious. It is what the best are doing so why wouldn’t we want our kids to be doing that?
So, whether you have world-class athletes or not is really not the point. If you make their kicking better, I will assure you – I am not going to guarantee you – but I will assure you that you have a chance that they are going to be a heck of a lot faster. So I don’t know – I have a pea brain so I am thinking about these things in very small increments. I was thinking about the difference between rockets and airplanes and, you know, the rockets are the fastest things – when they go out and break the land speed records in the Bonneville Salt Flats. And it is just a rocket engine behind this thing that doesn’t have any extremities and you think about how fast – I have timed kids on my team – they will dive in and do a 25 underwater dolphin kick faster than the majority of my team can swim and so I think okay – if that thing is going fast just using the legs and our sport allows us to use our arms – just think if we take that power and we put it into a great core and we put it into great arms – what kind of significance we are going to have in time drops and time improvements.
Now there are all sorts of little particulars that go along with this. I know it is not quite that simple. If you will just take your kids and increase your kicking you will get better in your program and I will guarantee that. I will guarantee that. Anybody here want to swim slower? Anybody here have kids with smiles on their faces going oh coach – I love this program – I am swimming so slow – it’s great? And they all want to come to practice so they can get slower?
So – kick your kids. Kick them and kick them some more and kick them some more and then show them some films of the fastest people in the world and what they are doing and your kids are going to get faster and you are all going to be the greatest coaches because you are going to send your swimmers to college and the college coaches are going to look great because we are going to have your fast swimmers and you have all built them for success and all we are going to do is sit back and take all the credit. But that is all I have got to tell you about kicking. Thank you for your time and attention. I will take any questions if you have any.
Q/A: The question is: How much kicking do we do with boards? The majority of it.
Q/A: The question was: If 80% of our weight workout is done from the hips up, what are we doing to make our legs stronger? The answer is – besides kicking – we do some squats and we do some leg extensions – leg curls – things like that and besides running – we are just kicking and just doing core work.
A/Q: The question is: What is the best body position when you have a kick board and, whether we kick with or without snorkels, how we hold position? We just have them kick – extend the board out completely. Sometimes we will actually make them put their face in the water if we want to – just for fun. We kick with snorkels and we really work on head position because with a snorkel you can get them to put their head way down, which is what we really need to be doing, instead of having the water catch us here, which is what we were all taught when we were younger. We like the head to be down further in the water – it just makes a better body line.
Q/A: The question is: Breaststroke kick – how much do we do? And how do we safeguard their knees? We start kind of easy with the breaststroke, but we try and build it up so they are kicking not necessarily all of it because another thing I stole from Eddie is that you can’t get your heart rate up very high kicking breaststroke. Freestyle is a great way to get the heart rate up for breaststrokers, so we will mix in a freestyle kick with it.
Q/A: What do we do with freshmen who aren’t adapted to doing a lot of kicking? They are in survival mode at first and we don’t want to hurt anyone, so we just try and build things slowly and get them used to it. So we put them on a slower sendoff at first and build our way up. It is not necessarily about the sendoff at first – it is just doing it right and building your way up. We don’t want to hurt anybody. An injured athlete – that just messes up your whole year.
Q/A: Snorkels? That would probably be the third thing. I know that that sounds pretty crazy, but for us – from what I have seen in the snorkel head position and working on freestyle – I do not think that there has been a better tool for freestyle than that. Probably the racks that we have. I really like those and I would say probably the weight room would be the next thing after that and my coaching staff. I certainly would never give them up, but that would probably be the sequence – something like that.
Q/A: Something else that we have been doing a lot more of is kick to swim. We will do sets – kick to swim. We will do 200s of 100 kick – 100 swim. Sometimes we will do 100 swim – 100 kick. We will do those on kind of a descending interval sometimes, too. We mix a lot of kick to swim in on the other days and then we kick maybe a 1200 or something like that on the days that we are not doing major kick sets. The kick to swim has been something that I really like the results of because if you get the legs tired and then you get them to swim fast – you are teaching them something that is just very different.
Q/A: The question was: Do we have any test sets that we do with kicking. Yes, we do. We don’t like to repeat things a lot, but yeah – we will do test sets. If we are long course we might kick as many as eight 200s — that would be the most we have ever done for an actual test set. We might kick eight 400s and maybe even ones as fast as you can go kind of thing – that sort of stuff. And then as you start to rest you change your kick emphasis. You start tapering everything down. You might go to a little bit more speed kick the second semester and you want to start changing things a little bit. But when you are just using your legs it is kind of like pulling. I think when you are doing pulling, you can pull a quantity of it and you don’t worry about – am I doing too much? You have got to build your way up, but I think it is the same thing.
Q/A: The question is: What would happen if somebody is a great kicker on the board, but you don’t see it in a race – or they can’t seem to do it in a race? That has always been a question that a lot of coaches have. I am sure that you have had kids that do not pull very well – do not kick very well — but they swim real fast and you are looking going what, what? What kind of effort they are giving you in one particular area maybe. If they can kick on a board, they should be able to kick in a race and if they are not kicking in a race I think it is their choice and you need to persuade them that is not a good choice.
Q/A: The question is: How much running do we do? Three times a week we run for about the first six or seven weeks and then we actually do some running over Christmas – believe it or not — and then we do running in the spring for about six or seven weeks after the season is over. On Mondays we run long and the longest we will run is usually about four and a half miles. On Wednesdays we run intervals, which could either be half-mile or one-mile intervals and we will run quite a bit. We will run a mile warm-up and run six half-mile intervals or eight half-mile intervals or something like that or maybe run a mile warm-up and run three or four miles for time.
Q/A: The question is how much yardage do we do? Well, if we kick, that is kind of hard to say. Let’s just say the average amount for our team is somewhere between – excluding the distance people and some of the people that swim a little bit further – let’s say the average yardage of our week is between 50 and 60,000 – something like that. And the percentage of that that might be kicking — it might be as much as 15-20% maybe. I don’t know. That would be 6000 – yeah, I would say probably 12-20%.
Q/A: The question is: What are our best times for kicking? I don’t know those – I honestly don’t. I have never timed them, but I am going to now because you mentioned it.
Here is something that we do at the beginning of the year – trying to figure out where your kickers are. You’ve got nothing to lose. Let‘s say we are kicking meters and we are we start at 2:10. Everybody can make 2:10. I told you – my grandmother – one leg emphysema – she can make 2:10 so we start at 2:10 and you start coming down by a second – just for the heck of it. You have an hour and 15 minutes. Start at 2:10 and let’s keep going and as you don’t make it you sit on the side and you watch the good kickers keep kicking. Just kind of watch. People climb out because they miss the interval and watch how some people go and before you know it you have got people going 1:31 and then kicking a 1:30 and kicking a 1:29 and kicking a 1:28. Now remember – these are 1:31 and 1:30, 1:29, 1:28 and all of a sudden they have kicked forty-four 100s or something and it is just a good way to start off the year and see where everybody is. This has helped us so much because the weaker kickers are looking at the fast kickers and the fast kickers – most of the time – not always – the fast kickers are beating the weaker kickers. Not always, but that sure sends a message. I would think that all of your kids would look at it in the same way and go hmmm, I think I can figure this out – I am getting my butt kicked so if I don’t want to get my butt kicked – I need to be kicking butt. They will figure that out. The kids that come to your practice are competitive and they will figure it out.
Q/A: Well, if we have come out of the weight room and they have done a good job in the weight room – we certainly are not going to tax their arms any more when we kick them. You are right – it will take the emphasis off that but yes, we do kick with fins and we probably do a little bit more kicking with fins as the season progresses and then just to kind of pick up some speed. You can do some really weird stuff with fins that is really good. You can cross peoples’ eyes with fins like you never thought you could and it is because you can make them kick underwater with fins. You can just kick in a streamline position and you can kick fast with a snorkel that has only a pin hole in it and they are trying to breathe and they are about ready to blow their eyeballs out of their sockets and you just know that something good is happening. Like I said, at the age of 40 it might not be good, but right now it is good. We just use kind of normal fins. We do not use the cutoff ones.
Thank you very much.