Learning to swim like a dolphin

Learning to swim like a dolphin

UNB's Varsity Reds swim team is learning how to channel their inner dolphin and post faster times in the pool thanks to an intensive clinic in underwater dolphin kick with expert Ryan Atkison.

Atkison, who is based in Toronto, works for the National Training Centre providing biomechanics and performance analysis for swimming. He's particularly passionate about underwater dolphin kick and its potential to move the body through water far faster than any normal surface swimming.

According to Atkison, that's due to the fact that each swimmer has their own "hull speed" which limits how fast they can swim on the surface of the water. When you take that hull speed away and swim underwater, there's no wave resistance. And most excitingly, there's also no limit to how fast you can go. 

Armed with an underwater camera and a laptop computer, Atkison spent three days working with small groups of UNB swimmers. Together they recorded and analysed their underwater dolphin kick, with the goal of improving technique and efficiency. 

Being able to take a close look at the kick was especially important, says head coach Robin Ferdinand. "It's extremely helpful for the individual swimmers to be able to see what they are doing, both right and wrong. It means they can correct things and see that improvement on the screen. And, of course, feel the difference in the water, too."

Atkison says he expects to see more and more swimmers embrace underwater dolphin kick, especially freestyle sprint swimmers. He expects to see them extend their start and turn distances to 15 metres.

UNB's swim team will put their new skills to action at the first meet at Acadia in mid-October.