Using both their arms and legs to propel them through the water, swimmers use cupped hands, rotating arms and strong, powerful legs to make a fast and energy-efficient freestyle stroke. In the case of distance swimmers, who need a powerful stroke that conserves energy, endurance is key to their ability to swim hundreds of meters in one go. The crossover kick is an alternative swimming technique for the freestyle stroke that helps save energy for endurance swimmers.
The Crossover Kick
The crossover kick is so named because the swimmer’s ankles cross during the kick. Sometimes the kick is also called the two-beat or the four-beat kick. Every downwards kick is considered one beat. The crossover kick uses major — larger — and minor — smaller — beats to complete a single crossover kicking cycle.
Benefits of the Crossover Kick
The crossover kick is helpful in saving energy for long- and medium-distance freestyle races. This kicking technique is not intended to propel as strongly as the sprinting flutter kick more commonly used in short distance freestyle events. The crossover kick relies more on arm movement to propel the swimmer through the water. However, the crossover kick helps the body rotate as needed to achieve greater propulsion in the arm strokes. The rotation of the body during the kick also helps with breathing.
The crossing part of the crossover kick occurs at your ankles. As your right arm descends into the water, cross your right leg over your left. Kick down with your right leg as your right arm pushes through the water. During your right arm’s upsweep and your left arm’s descent, cross your left leg over your right. Kick down with your left leg as your left arm pushes through the water. This is one complete crossover kick cycle.
Body Type and Suitability
Mastering the crossover kick is easier for some swimmers than others. Long- or medium-distance swimmers with equal body lines — equal strength and symmetry on both sides of their body — are better suited for the mechanics of the crossover kick. In general, swimmers who do a two-beat crossover kick have longer legs than freestyle swimmers who use a more traditional kick.
- GoSwim: What Kind of Kick Should I Use?
- Swimming Fastest; Ernest W. Maglischo
- Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science, The Paralympic Athlete; Yves Vanlandewijck and Walter Thompson, Editors