Just as there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, there is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B under water. This is a good thing, as it not only allows you to choose the propulsion technique best suited for a particular situation, it also allows you to switch periodically between different kicks to help prevent cramping and exhaustion.
The kicks most often used by scuba divers are:
Modified flutter kick
Let’s take a look at each.
1. Flutter kick
This is the “standard” kick — the one you learned in your Open Water Diver course. It can be very efficient if done correctly. As you will remember from your beginning class, the key to doing a flutter kick correctly is to kick from the hips while keeping your knees straight. The only limitations for this particular kick are that it can be tiring over long distances, and it has the potential to stir up more silt or cause more damage to the environment than other propulsion techniques.
2. Modified flutter kick
This variation on the standard flutter kick can help you keep your fins away from coral and silt. It is popular among cave and technical divers but applicable to sport diving as well. To perform this kick, you keep your thighs relatively straight, bend your legs sharply at the knee, and kick using only the lower portion of your legs and ankles.
3. Frog kick
This is another good kick to use around coral and silt and, not surprisingly, also popular among cave and technical divers. It is potentially faster than a modified flutter kick and may be better over longer distances; it takes a while for most divers to master, however. Alternating this with other kicks helps prevent cramping.
Among the best ways to learn this kick is to first watch other divers demonstrate it on video. Then practice it by lying with your upper body on a picnic table, with your knees and lower legs hanging over the end. Now pretend you are a frog and move your legs exactly as a frog would. Repeat this under water until you get it down.
What to remember
Depending on circumstances you have up to three different propulsion methods you can use.
For maximum efficiency away from coral and silt, use the standard flutter kick.
To move slowly and carefully around coral, silt, and any other potentially fragile objects or aquatic life, use the modified flutter.
To reduce the risk of silting over longer distances, use the frog kick.
Need help with any of the above? Enlist the assistance of the experienced professionals at your local SDI Dive Center. A continuing education course is a great place to work on expanding your overall skill set.
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