Torpedo Kick With Fins - The Most Overlooked Drill In Swimming?

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A few months ago here on the Swim Smooth blog we talked about why the swimming world needs to stop performing the Catch-Up Drill

In fact you could say that Catch-Up is the most over-performed drill in swimming. But what would be the most under-performed? What drill is easily missed and overlooked but is hugely beneficial to any level of swimmer?

We would say that drill is Torpedo Kick With Fins:

You can watch this drill in full in the Swim Smooth Guru here (subscription required):

Perform the drill in a streamlined position with one hand on top of the other, pressing your shoulders together behind your ears. Kick with a nice straight leg driven from the hip:

Unless you have an *exceptional* kick always wear a long pair of fins and aim to swim the drill for 25 to 100m at a time. 

Really stretch in this position, from the tip of your fingertips through your shoulders, core, legs and toes. Stretching these key muscle groups is one of the key benefits of the drill and by performing the drill regularly the flexibility you will gain will help your full stroke swimming.

When you need to breathe, simply perform a small scull of the hands out front (not a full breast-stroke) and take a quick breath before immediately returning to the streamline position:

You can also perform the drill on your back. This is a little harder and will further challenge your flexibility:

On your back become aware of what your knees are doing. Are they actively breaking the surface? If so you are kicking from the knee and need to work on keeping your legs straighter with a little softness at the knee. Transfer that over into your freestyle and you'll instantly pick up some speed.

It can be fun to do a little underwater at the beginning of a length before gently surfacing to breathe:

Always exhale a constant stream of bubbles underwater

Obviously you can't see where you are going on your back so take care not to bump into the lane rope or other swimmers! 

Why Is Torpedo Kick Beneficial To Me? 

Like many great swimming drills, Torpedo Kick With Fins works on several things at once:

- It develops your flexibility through all the key muscle groups in your shoulders, back, chest, hips, shins and ankles. It's a great drill to perform as a loosener in your warm-up for that reason.

- It helps you develop a good kicking technique with a straight leg kicking from the hips with pointed toes.

- It helps you engage with that feeling of stretching through your core which is something you should have in your full stroke swimming.

- Perhaps most obviously you get to practise your streamline tuck which you should use at the beginning of every lap of pool swimming off the wall.

A simple effective drill that is easily missed!

See The Entire Swim Smooth Drill-Set In The Guru

The Torpedo Kick With Fins drill is one of around 40 drills that make up the Swim Smooth Drill Set.

You can see the entire Swim Smooth drill set in the Swim Smooth Guru (subscription required):

Each drill is filmed in glorious hi-definition from every angle and includes our drill instructions and key coaching points to get the most from it.

Like Torpedo Kick, many of the drills are multi-purpose, developing several aspects of your stroke simultaneously. These should be performed regularly on an on-going basis and form the bedrock of your technique work.

Other drills focus on correcting a very specific flaw in your stroke and form part of our step-by-step stroke correction processes for specific flaws:

Swim Smooth!


Andy Turnbull said...

I find a snorkel useful here - no need to break position to take a breath.

Iain said...

You get shot by the poolside staff if anyone uses fins (or snorkels). There needs to be an alternative fallback / compromise routine for such not uncommon situations.

Jo Lewis said...

On viewing your two different Swim Smooth monthly Subscriptions, is a discount offered to active Level 3 Triathlon Coaches/ASA Coaches - I am both of these! Thanks.

Jonas said...

No problem in using short fins in my pool. I recommend the Finis freestyle snorkel, it's great: however, with snorkels the problem is you need a nose clip for avoiding water coming into the nose when breathing, so you can't exhale through the nose.

I agree with Swim Smooth: these are great exercises, should be part of any training. They develop your core strength and improve your streamline position, so that you can better glide.

Cyndy said...

Some great feedback, thanks. Yes we are aware that using fins at many pools in the UK is a challenge. Keep requesting designated lanes or times for fin usage. Enough of us requested it at the pool I used to swim at in the UK they finally gave us designated times to use them. In the meantime you can cut the length of the fin drills in half and give them a go without fins, but it is much more difficult as you know. Don't focus on the distance that you cover, just focus on the drill. Another alternative is find a squad near you. Fins are typically allowable in a squad setting. Cheers Cyndy

Andy Turnbull said...

Hi Jonas - you should be able to lose the mouse clip with a bit of practice. Try it!

Andy Turnbull said...


Anonymous said...

Could you please explain why this drill should always performed with fins? Wouldn't it be better to do it naturally without fins (covering less distance maybe).?

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous, the big reason is swimming it without fins is a lot more challenging and you end up thinking so much about your kick (and probably your heavy breathing from kicking so hard!). Much better to use fins and focus on the stretch! Also, the fins push you into a straighter leg kicking position and so help develop that kicking technique. :)


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