When you are at the pool you might see people in the water using a range of equipment, and wonder what the benefits are of using the gear. Training accessories can provide a number of key benefits. When using swim gear correctly, they can isolate muscle groups, improve body position, and alter the intensity of the swim session.

Here at AUT Millennium, we are holding a “try before you buy” week from 2-6 March in the National Aquatic Centre, where you are invited to come in and try out some of the gear to see how you can integrate it into your training. We will have a range of products available for you to try during your swim sessions, along with knowledgeable staff on pool deck to help explain how the gear can be used.

If you have wanted to try swim accessories, but you aren’t quite sure on how to correctly use them, Jacob’s put together a blog series to give you a better understanding and de-mystify swim accessories to help you be the best swimmer you can be!

Kickboards are great for isolating the muscle groups you are using when you are swimming. By using a kickboard you are putting more of a focus on your legs, hips, and core. Kick is one of the most important aspects in swimming as it generates a lot of drive and forward momentum.

Taking away the arms means that you are having to use your core to maintain stability while you kick, and you usually find that when using a kickboard, you are kicking harder than when you have the option to use your arms.

Kicking is also a good way get your heart rate up, and can help with stabilising your stroke. Swimmers with the strongest kick tend to have a stable and consistent stroke.

What to watch out for: If you are kicking with a board to help with your breathing technique, it is important that you maintain the hip roll. Using a kickboard can restrict this movement.

Things to remember:

  • Have flat hips, trying to maintain a small roll
  • Kick from your hips, and not your knees. Think long, and have your legs stretched out behind you with small, fast feet.
  • There should only be a slight bend in your knees.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Kick from your hips rather than from your knees.
  • Have floppy ankles/feet when kicking.

Ways to include a kickboard:

There are many different ways you can incorporate a kickboard into your sessions, whether that be to get a good kick workout or to work on basic drills.

Kick is an underrated aspect of swimming. Using a kickboard will help you develop your technique and speed in the water tenfold. Dedicating time in your swims solely for kicking is a great way to improve your speed and strength.

I suggest including a mix of multiple repetitions of fast kick over a short distance (25m – 50m), as well as kicking over a longer distance at a reduced to speed (100m – 400m). This is because it is a good idea to try improve kick speed as well as endurance.

Here are some things to try in the pool:

  • 8×50 kick as 4x (1x fast, 1x easy) on 1min – 2min.
  • 8×50 kick as 2x (descending 1 – 4 to max) on 1min – 2min.
    • This means you get faster on each repetition and descend the time.
  • 12×25 kick as 3x (3x fast, 1x easy) on 45s – 1min.

Another way to include a kickboard into your sessions is to uses them for basic drills that can help improve your breathing position in freestyle. Simple drills such as kicking on your side in the correct breathing position is a great way to improve this. Ultimately you will be able to eliminate the kickboard, and do the same drill freely.

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Jacob is the Assistant Swim School Manager and Private Swim Coach at AUT Millennium. Jacob has been with AUT Millennium since 2015 where he became a qualified learn-to-swim instructor. He now assists in managing the Swim School as well as working with learn-to-swim students, both adults and children. As well as competitive swimmers and open-water swimmers who are trying to refine their technique in 1-on-1 sessions. His background in swimming involves representing both his club at National events, as well as New Zealand at International events.