Putting in the Leg Work

By Garrett Weber-Gale//Olympian

As swimmers, we’re all armed with unique weapons that help us achieve the success we desire. Each individual is different. Our skills, strengths and weaknesses will be a bit different from swimmer to swimmer. However, we must work as a group to get better and help each other turn our weaknesses into strengths.
At the University of Texas, there are parts of the season when we focus heavily on working our legs. Currently we are in a phase dedicated to building strength and speed in our legs. Although this type of work is not always fun, and is definitely painful, we need to do it.
The following set was done in a recent workout in the 50-meter pool. (Please note: This set was designed for elite-level swimmers. Check with your coach for the best send-off times for your skill level):

  • 3x100 kick on 1:50, 1:40, 1:30. Follow this by 4x50 kick on 1:00.
  • 3x100 kick on 1:45, 1:35, 1:25. Follow this by 4x50 kick on 1:00.
  • 3x100 kick on 1:40, 1:30, 1:20. Follow this by 4x50 kick on 1:00.

Each 100 kick should be faster than the one before it. The 50’s can be moderately easy. My last 100 kick was 1:16.
My focus when I kick is primarily about foot speed. It’s very important to keep a steady and fast kick if we want to get speed from it. There’s no doubt that maintaining a fast kick is difficult, especially when we get tired. However, practicing a fast foot speed in workouts will help us translate this into fast kicking in our races.
After the workout I asked my coach at Longhorn Aquatics, Eddie Reese, what he wanted to get out of that kick set. Eddie said not only do we want to work our legs hard and make them tired, but that set was also setting us up for the next set.
The set that followed the kick set waa:
8x100 on 2:00. The goal is to go out in 30 and come back in 27 or better. What Eddie wanted us to work on is really driving the kick the second 50. He said, “It is hard to do this after the previous kick set we just did, and that is the point.” We must make our bodies work and push through difficulty even when we’re tired.
The 8x100s were tough. The kick set definitely put a number on our legs and forced us all to push even harder to go the times Eddie expected of us. There were a few people who did not go all the times expected. The important part is that we were all giving the proper effort.
Next time you’re doing a kick set, try to think about keeping your feet moving fast. Remember that the burn we’re feeling during the kick set is helping us achieve our goals in the long run. Keep working hard, y’all.

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