5 exercises that will make you a dolphin


Can you imagine that dolphin swimming is a descendant of breaststroke? Historically, the first breaststroke swimmers began throwing their arms forward above water before the stroke to gain a fraction of a second. Over time, the distance of the above-water arm movement increased, and suddenly the fourth swimming style, dolphin swimming, was born.

Since then, dolphin swimming has evolved into a dynamic swimming technique that, at least in the world-class level, is not far behind freestyle swimming in terms of maximum speed. Especially in the past two decades, dolphin swimming has made significant advancements due to the increased emphasis on athletic training. More so than in other swimming styles, well-developed strength in the stabilizing core muscles is required to provide an effective counterlever to the dolphin kick.

If dolphin swimming requires exceptional athletic abilities, does that mean that regular training in this style could lead to improved athletic skills? Would it even make sense to learn or further improve this style technically to introduce variable training stimuli? When some coaches talk about the best and most specific strength training that can be performed in the water, they often mean that dolphin swimming in training also helps improve performance in your main swimming style.

Five-Step Program

The more you challenge and push yourself in the water, the more refined your water sense and the development of your sensorimotor and coordination skills become. Therefore, even as a specialist in a particular swimming style, it’s important to incorporate other swimming styles into your training. This will provide you with entirely new insights into flow conditions, lever angles, and develop a sense for optimal propulsion.

As you can see, the experience of dolphin swimming encompasses various interesting aspects that both challenge and promote swimmers! Have we piqued your motivation? Excellent! Let’s dive into the five-step program and become a dolphin swimmer!

Exercise 1: Fin Games with Fins

A characteristic feature of dolphin swimming is a wave-like motion in the body. This gives dolphin swimming an elegant appearance and is a fundamental component of performing the dolphin kick. Fundamentally, the movement from the pelvis downwards is not significantly different from the flutter kick in freestyle. Keep your ankle relaxed and avoid actively resisting water pressure with the top of your foot.

Program: 10 sets of 25 meters dolphin kick with arms extended in front. Ideally, if you can swim the first 10 meters underwater, it will give you a better feel for the movement. If you’re training in a 50m pool, finish the remaining distance of each lap with an easy freestyle swim. You can also occasionally perform this exercise in a backstroke position.

Tip: Make it easier for yourself!

For beginners, it is recommended to use swim fins with smaller propulsion surfaces compared to diving fins during your training. Investing in this equipment is worthwhile because it allows you to better utilize the crucial propulsion from your legs. This is important to improve your water position and focus on the arm stroke and coordination patterns.

Exercise 2: Dolphin Swimming with a Nod of the Head

Head control plays an important role in dolphin swimming as it initiates the overall movement. To train the feeling of head control, place your arms against your body and initiate a moderate body wave by gently nodding your head. You will feel how the hip performs a wave-like movement in the opposite direction. Maintain the rhythm of the leg movement and focus on a strong downward movement.

Program: 10 sets of 25 meters dolphin kick with arms by your side. Support the downward nod of your head with a strong leg kick.

Exercise 3: Propulsion through Bilateral Arm Stroke

Now it’s time to integrate the arm stroke into the leg movement. The breaststroke arm stroke is suitable for this integration because it is not as energy-demanding as other arm strokes when the arms are submerged in water. Maintain the coordination of the leg kick, which involves two kicks, with the second kick being stronger. It’s important to initiate the arm stroke on the second leg kick, raising your shoulders above the water surface and lifting your face forward. Look over the water surface!

Program: 8 sets of 50 meters breaststroke arm stroke (alternatively, you can use dolphin arm stroke) with dolphin kick. During the arm extension phase, pause briefly in a streamlined position with a full body stretch.

Exercise 4: Dolphin Light Version with Freestyle Arm Recovery

Freestyle arm recovery swimming serves as an ideal basic exercise for training specific aspects of dolphin swimming. This week, we’ll focus on the alternate arm stroke to fine-tune coordination. During each arm stroke, while the other arm is in the extended position, continue with two leg kicks and breathe to the side or front, whichever is more comfortable for you. Occasionally, integrate complete dolphin strokes. Ensure a complete extension of the arms until they reach the thighs.

Program: 8 sets of 50 meters, consisting of 4 one-arm strokes on the left side, 4 one-arm strokes on the right side, and 2 complete dolphin strokes.

Exercise 5: Minimizing Resistance without Breathing

Byperforming this exercise, you will learn to minimize resistance during dolphin swimming by eliminating the breath. This exercise will help you develop a smoother and more streamlined technique. Focus on maintaining a strong and powerful dolphin kick while keeping your head aligned with your body and your face in the water. Keep your body position high in the water, and remember to maintain a relaxed and streamlined posture.

Program: 6 sets of 100 meters dolphin swimming without breathing. Focus on maintaining a strong and consistent dolphin kick throughout the entire distance.

As you progress through these exercises, you will gradually develop your dolphin swimming technique and improve your overall athleticism in the water. Remember to focus on proper body wave motion, coordination between the arms and legs, and maintaining a streamlined position. Additionally, incorporating regular strength and conditioning exercises outside the water can further enhance your performance in dolphin swimming.

It’s important to note that dolphin swimming may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain physical limitations or injuries. If you have any concerns or questions about incorporating dolphin swimming into your training, it’s best to consult with a qualified swimming coach or professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your individual needs and abilities.

Enjoy the process of exploring and improving your dolphin swimming skills, and have fun discovering new dimensions of swimming!

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