One foot in the air swim drill


What is that drill called?

Celia Zwierzynski Wolff posted on the Facebook group, Swim Coaches Idea Exchange, asking for a name of that drill. Her original question:

Freestyle with one leg bent at the knee, holding that foot out of the water while kicking like crazy with the other leg.

We do it.

The video below shows a swimmer at one of our practices with the Duquesne University's club team doing the drill, and doing it well. 

The various names of the drill were flowing in that thread.

Various names surfaced:

  • Snark, Shark fin, Shark attack, Shark foot, Shark bait
  • Thresher Shark
  • Wounded knee
  • Dry foot
  • Peg leg
  • 5 toes high
  • Egyptian Crawl, Egyptian Free, Egyptian swim, The Egyptian, Egyptian Drill, Egyptian swim, Egyptian kick, 
  • The kid with the sore toe
  • Scorpion, or Scorpion swim
  • Foot in the air freestyle, also, one foot in the air.
  • Periscope up
  • Sail boat
  • Hamstring cramp
  • Leg up... on your competition
  • The Great White
  • Bundu crawl (if in Zimbabwe)
  • Unilateral kick freestyle
  • Athletes foot
  • Helicopter
  • Duck drill
  • Ann O'Neill reports that In Scotland, its name is, “the haggis.”

It seems as if, the shark fin name is more suited with the kick board between legs.

Purpose of this drill

The purpose resides between the ears. It is about brain power. The textbook reasoning: Kinetic mastery and a good dose of listening and following directions.

Another purpose of the drill is to build extra physical strength and smiles.

Nancy Harms summed it up by saying coordination, opposition, core strength, body awareness, coach's entertainment.

Stacey O'Neil Rickman talks about up-kick as well as down-kick, core, lines, but also it makes her laugh.

Mark Bennett wrote about balance and stability. If you raise one leg in the back, you have no option but to lower your front end. Now the hard part is getting the core to stabilize and stay long, with out “bowing” in the back, and stretching the obliques.

The drill can be used as a gimmick during warm down when the aim is to get the swimmers to focus, when they are very unlikely to want to focus.

Great drill to do with a snorkel, as well.


Do more than just freestyle with one foot in the air. Do all the strokes that way, especially fun relays.

Freestyle with one foot up in the air is one thing, but amp it up with some IMs. Even 25-yard IMs as well.

Coaching tips:

Describe the activity to the kids by saying you are a waiter holding a tray of food and/or drinks high on your foot and you have to move around the busy dining establishment -- except we're at at swim-up bar. You can't drop the tray that sits on your foot so as to get those cheeseburgers wet. There is no tip for that!

The drill works to aid in workforce development skills. Tip: Have the swimmers walk around the pool with a kick-board trays lifted over their heads holding water bottles on top. Being a waiter/waitress or even bussing tables is a high demand job that requires some skills too.

Do the drill with the head out of water and one foot out of water and called it the "Egyptian Crawl."

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