A confusing concept in swimming is the 6 beat kick vs a 2 beat kick. What does this really mean? This is from “effortless swimming”:
“A 2-beat kick is when you’re almost not kicking at all. It’s when you’re using your legs for balance and timing. You won’t see any sprinters that use a 2-beat kick in a 50, a hundred or usually a 200 meter race because it just doesn’t provide enough propulsion but anything 400 meters or over, you find that 2-beat kick is quite common because it’s saves a lot of energy as kick is one of the biggest uses of energy when you’re swimming. And a 6-beat kick is when you’re constantly kicking and you’re getting a little bit more propulsion from your kick. With the 6-beat kick, it’s ideal for sprinting.”
In essence a 2 beat kick is 2 kicks per stroke cycle…..vs a 6 beat kick is 6 kicks per stroke cycle. Two-beat kick–Best used for distance, you kick with the foot opposite the hand with which you are stroking, one kick per-stroke.
Six-beat kick–Best used in sprints. It’s basically the same as a two beat kick, but you kick three times faster with lots of energy output and a bit more propulsion.
Most Triathletes prefer the 2 beat since it conserves energy (distance oriented) and gives good rotational timing.
The following video demonstrates the timing of the 2 beat.