3 tips for improving your underwater phase

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 16 January '19 0
You are reading: 3 tips for improving your underwater phase

If you are wondering what the best way is to be faster in the water, the answer is to improve your underwater phase!

The underwater leg kick is considered to be the fifth swim stroke and it is also the fastest. If you watch the world’s best swimmers you will notice that they do not simply swim 15 m underwater after every turn, they also try to be as fast as possible during this phase.

We have already talked about the importance of hypoxic training (Learn how to…hold your breath) which is so vital for training your underwater phase, so in this article we will try and find out why the underwater phase is so crucial and what the best methods are for improving your speed during this phase.

Special training for the underwater phase is important because:

– it means you swim 30% less in short-course races (25 m pool). You can actually swim 30% of the race completely underwater (if you add together all the 15 m phases after pushing off the wall) corresponding to an enormous gain in terms of speed and performance (you only actually need to swim 70% of the race).

– it means you can swim faster. The phases immediately after the dive and turn are the fastest part of the race. A powerful underwater phase allows you to maintain this speed longer, gaining an invaluable amount of time in terms of seconds.

– it helps improve your leg strength. Working on the underwater phase means focusing more on your leg strength and endurance, which will transfer over into the water.

– it teaches you how important it is to reduce drag. If you train with fins you will learn what it means to reduce drag and, hence, increase your speed.

Having explained why an excellent underwater phase is so important, let’s see how to train this specific skill following these three useful tips:

1. Start by swimming 15 m underwater as fast as possible. Try sets of 8 x 15 m wearing fins with 60” rest between intervals. When you have learned how to handle 15 m underwater perfectly, increase the distance to 25 m. Make sure your speed is right and that you are not gasping for air too much.

2. Make sure you train your “core” muscles. Having a well-trained “core” will give you a more efficient butterfly leg kick in the water. Your leg kick will be stronger and your shoulders will be steadier, and this will allow you to keep your body straighter during the underwater phase

3. practice vertical leg kicks. A few minutes vertical kicking every day will help you improve your underwater phase. Vertical kicking will allow you to keep your body in the right position and also perfect your leg kick itself. This video clip shows you how to perform this drill correctly:

  • vertical butterfly legs with your forearms and hands out of the water for better control of your leg kick:


  • vertical butterfly legs in a streamlined position to improve your position in the water (simulating how you come out of dives and turns):


  • vertical butterfly legs holding a weight above your head to strengthen your “core” and legs:

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arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.