Swim Type 3: The Kicktastic

A leap of faith is required towards upper body propulsion!

The Kicktastic


The Kicktastic is often but not always female with some swimming experience, often from earlier childhood. Their stroke is characterised by a very dominant and propulsive leg kick but lacks catch and feel for the water with their arm stroke. As kicking is an inefficient method of propulsion, and uses very large muscle groups, this swimmer is often short of breath. For sprint freestyle a strong kick is expected but over longer distances the very high oxygen demand makes it far from ideal. It is better to divert that energy into the arm stroke for greater propulsive efficiency. Kicktastics vary hugely in speed depending on the propulsion level from their kick and their level of feel for the water with their arm stroke.

Quick Facts:

  • Very strong and propulsive freestyle kick
  • Lacks catch and feel for the water
  • Often short of breath
  • Swims around 2:15 to 1:35 per 100m

How To Spot One:

  • Strong constant leg kick
  • High body position
  • Lack of body rotation
  • Struggles with pull buoy sets or when wearing a wetsuit
  • Often short of breath


  • Often confident in the water and eager to improve but frustrated that they cannot improve their speed beyond a certain point.
  • Can get bored easily during training sessions.
  • May appear to dislike attention and in squad situations can appear quite aloof – in fact sometimes even “contrary”.

Kicktastic Common Characteristics:

  • A very strong six-beat leg kick, often kicking strongly from the knee as opposed to from the hip.
  • Typically good body position but this is achieved through a strong and energy sapping kick rather than good balance in the water.
  • Tends to struggle in pull buoy sets and often feels unbalanced when wearing a wetsuit.
  • Normally quite lean with long levers relative to the torso.
  • Body rotation is often poor, swimming quite flat in the water.
  • Limited catch and feel for the water.
  • Due to relying on the large leg muscle groups for propulsion this swimmer often appears short of breath.
  • As triathletes, Kicktastics often complain of tired legs on the bike and run.

Stroke Correction Guides

Our full Kicktastic Stroke Correction Guide includes all the analysis, drills and techniques you need to improve your stroke technique. There is nothing generic or cookie-cutter in the guide. Each method, drill and visualisation is carefully chosen to target your unique make-up and make the switch to upper body propulsion. Follow each of the four included training sessions to fit these techniques into a perfect training session for you. The Guide is supplied as a digital download straight to your computer. Find out more here.
Swim Smooth’s Swim types:

KICKTASTIC Stroke correction & Training Guide

Just the Ticket

Download our full stroke development and stroke training guide for the Kicktastic swim type

Areas To Work On:

  • A shift of focus from being lower body orientated to upper body.
  • Working to improve body roll in conjunction with improving catch and feel is essential. Often requires a longer stroke length with slightly slower stroke rate.
  • The shift from lower body to upper body requires a leap of faith on the part of the Kicktastic that they will still swim well despite letting go of the leg kick.
  • Kicktastics often find the shift towards upper body propulsion feels hard work with accompanying muscle fatigue in the back, chest and arms. This will improve as the upper body develops aerobically and that whilst it may initially feel wrong, the oxygen demand and so pressure on breathing is actually lower overall.

As triathletes, Kicktastics often complain their legs are tired when they hit the bike leg.

WARNING: Many Kicktastics think they don’t kick very hard! If you’re not sure, ask someone to give you their opinion, ideally by watching from underwater.

Do You Know A Kicktastic?

Kicktastics are one of the easiest types to spot with their strong leg kick. If you want to be sure, duck under the surface and watch their kick underwater, you will really see the effort they are putting in from that angle. Please let Kicktastics know about this site! It’s often much easier to recognise traits in others than ourselves so give them a quick prompt in this direction and let us get to work on improving their swimming. Without a specific program tailored to lessoning their leg kick and improving their catch, it’s very unlikely they will improve alone.