Five Things to Learn About the Dolphin Kick

Yahoo Contributor Network

Olympic rules allow one dolphin kick at the start of the 100-meter breaststroke competition. South African swimmer Cameron Van der Burg did three. Replays clearly show them, and he makes no apology for cheating.

His excuse is that everybody does it. Had the judges seen the multiple kicks, he would have been disqualified. Yet, he won the race and received a gold medal.

To understand why more than one kick is illegal, it is important to know what a dolphin kick is.

Here are five things to know about the move:

1. Explanation of a dolphin kick.

The swimmer's body moves like a wave in the water, resembling the movement of a whip. A wave of water is created that moves along the body and increases in intensity toward the feet. To observers, the swimmer resembles a dolphin in the water.

2. How the dolphin kick benefits a swimmer.

The intensity of the wave propels the strongest swimmers forward at a rate of 9 meters per second, or just less than half that of a dolphin's speed. World-record-setting swimmer Michael Phelps is able to snap his long body with incredible strength and speed. His speed is an incredible 2.9 meters per second, while a dolphin's speed is 3.2 meters per second.

3. Why only one kick is allowed in the breast stroke and when it is used.

Since the kick propels a swimmer forward faster than any swimming stroke, the Olympic Committee allows the kick only for the first 15 meters of the race. That's one kick. Van der Burg did three, propelling his body faster under the water than he could have moved by using the legal swimming stroke.

4. How to perform a dolphin kick in the pool.

You can practice a dolphin kick by first practicing on land. It may be helpful to watch a video of the kick being performed by a swimmer. Lie flat with your legs together and your hands in front of you, with the index fingers touching each other.

Imagine a wave beginning at your fingertips, traveling through your body. Let your hips rise and fall with the movement, passing through your legs. Keep your feet together in the wave. Now, try it in the water. It will take some practice to perfect it.

5. Other places the dolphin kick is used.

Scuba divers use the dolphin kick to propel themselves under water. When they are holding items such as cameras, bags, spear guns or other equipment, their bodies perform a modified kick that begins at the nose and ends at their feet. The flippers they wear increase the propulsion wave.

Rescue swimmers may not need speed in a swimming pool, but in a lake or the ocean, time is of the essence. Since the dolphin kick propels the swimmer faster than swimming strokes, this can be used to reach a drowning victim before the worst happens.

Each of these points is an important part of a single swimming technique. It has many uses for different conditions. By learning about the stroke, when and why it is used, you can perform it with style.

I love watching the Olympic swimming competitions; the way swimmers move, their speed, and grace is amazing. I can make it across the pool, if I'm not timed and no one is watching.

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