BY KATIE ARNOLD//NATIONAL TEAM COACH FELLOW
For any race, the breakout is crucial to maintaining speed during the transition from the underwater to the swimming portion. For backstroke and freestyle, it is also the time when swimmers must change from dolphin kick to flutter kick. Conventional wisdom says that this change should happen when the swimmer initiates his or her first arm stroke. However, many of our best National Team athletes have found great success using a technique we call the “Bonus Kick.”
The bonus kick is an extra dolphin kick used during the first arm pull on either backstroke or freestyle to help the swimmer “pop-up” through the surface of the water before they begin the flutter kick. As seen in the video clip below, the flutter kick does not begin until the first arm pull has finished down at the swimmer’s side.
* When trying this technique for the first time, it is important to remember that the timing will feel awkward because it is so different from what has been taught previously. However, with practice it will begin to feel more natural.