Dolphin kicking has transformed from a fad of the 90s to a skill that is essential to success in today’s racing. It’s especially prevalent in the 100 and 200 events, but it is growing as a factor to achievement in the 50 free all the way up to the 800 and 1500 free. It’s also not just an important skill to mature elite athletes, as more and more athletes at Junior Nationals and the USA National Junior Team are making it a part of their craft. A good dolphin kick can translate to success at any level in every event except breaststroke (kind of).
This chart shows the average number of kicks for the top 8 performers at the 2016 Olympic Trials, as well as the top 8 performer with the most kicks in their event.