Masters Swimming Myth #2, featuring Zheng Tao
Myth – Kicking generates next to no propulsion, serves only to fatigue the athlete, so kick sets and training to develop the kick stroke is pointless, with the time spent better off invested into developing the pull.
Well, just tell that to Zheng Tao who at the 2012 London Para Olympic Games won the gold medal, and lowered the World Record [WR] down to 1:13.56. Just in case you didn’t notice, Zheng has no arms. He won the gold medal, and set the WR by kicking… just kicking.
Can you kick 100m backstroke sub 1:15? Still think kicking is pointless?
Check out the gifs showing Zheng’s start, his flip turn, and his finish:
- To start, Zheng who you will see in lane 5, starts by holding onto a towel with his teeth (in case the backstroke start wasn’t challenging enough on its own).
- Without arms to balance his flip turn, he must execute the turn flawlessly using his core to rotate, stabilize, and then to maintain momentum off the wall.
- The finish demands a touch, regardless of whether you have arms or not, so its a head-butt of the wall that stops the clock for Zheng.
Imagine what would happen to your agility, your balance, your coordination, to your overall technique if you developed your kick.
Imagine the capacity you would have to accelerate, the speed you could generate over short distances, and the endurance that the counter balancing effect of a kick would have in long distance and open water events where waves, sighting, and aggressive competitors all demand an athlete have a powerful lower half of the body.