Cross Over Kick Swim Technique and Drills

What is the Cross Over Kick

We discussed how the cross over kick technique will improve your swim performance over the conventional rhythmic kick. See Cross Over Swim Kick

Tony MacGuinness of U.K.’s Neuro-tech Swimming well describes the two beat cross over kick.

In this kick, one leg actually crosses over the other, and then the opposite as the other arm is used. Generally it is the male distance swimmers we see use this type of kick although we have noticed the kick being used by Danish distance swimmer Lotte Friis. This cross-over kick enables the swimmer to rotate on their long axis and usually compensates for a little wider and lower swing of the arm during the recovery phase. Your arm reaches the inertial round off phase of your stroke and starts to withdraw from the water, just as your leg on that side reaches its maximum thrust of depth. All of this momentum is then transferred to your other arm as your body rotates toward the opposite arm that is entering the water, it is worth noting here that Jonty Skinner of South Africa and trained by Don Gambril used this style when he took the world record for the 100m freestyle in 49:44 eclipsing Jim Montgomery’s 20-day old world record in the 100m freestyle by 0.55 seconds in 1976. Jonty Skinner’s record stood until 3 April 1981 when Rowdy Gaines swam the distance in 49.36 seconds.

MacGuinness continued that a 2 beat cross over kick could be eliminated if you control your technique from your hips; but both Grimsey and myself find the 2 beat cross over kick enables you to swim with less energy and more power especially in open water.

One of Grimsey’s heroes growing up was David Davies. David was a bronze medalist in the 1500 m in the 2004 Olympics and a silver medalist in the 10k at the 2008 Olympics for the U.K. (where he also placed 6th in the 1500m). Watch David Davies graceful Cross Over Kick!

Many triathletes often have tight hip flexors and IT bands. They get the rhythm but in a two beat cross over kick they kick, kick and spread their legs out rather than cross (bands are a good idea for them). This shortens their stroke and does not keep their legs up; it is much more tiring, not efficient and it is painful to watch.

Cross Over Kick Drills

Grab some fins. DMC are my favorite fins. The fins will create more proprioception of where your feet are. Do a series of 12 x 25’s. Repeat.

Cross Over Kick Drill
12 x 25 allow your feet to just cross. Find what feels more natural, right over left or left over right.
12 x 25 two beat standard kick
12 x 25 two beat cross over kick
12 x 25 four beat standard kick
12 x 25 four beat cross over kick
12 x 25 six beat kick

Drill variation

Get an EneyBuoy2 (you can buy it here). Using it empty will increase the tempo of the arms. Think race pace body positioning or that lift you get from slat water. Now fill the bottom container partway and squeeze the buoy with your abductors. Practice the above 12 x 25’s just from the knees down, letting the toes glide over each other and the buoy keeping your legs hydrodynamic so the legs don’t fan out.

If you can change your kick you can change your world! But now that the secret is out about this kick . . . . turn your wonder in wisdom.

Both authors of this article are cross over kickers and proud of it!


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