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If you’re like most SEAL candidates, you do a lot of running as part of your training. This can make your ankles inflexible, and this is not a good thing when you’re trying to swim. Candidates tend to kick from the knee down instead of from the hip.

Vertical kicking – which is simply kicking in an upright position in the deep end of the pool – is a great way to focus on your kick without worrying about air or armstrokes or any of the dozens of things you have to think about when you’re swimming.

If you have a really bad kick, you can use fins for this – or even a flotation device such as a pull buoy under each arm. But the goal is to do this without fins.

Jump into the deep end and use only your arms to hold you up.

Make a big figure-8 motion with your hands and just let your legs hang underneath you.

When you feel like you’re straight up and down, start to flutter kick with your legs. Keep the kick narrow and quick, and try not to bend your knees too much. Don’t bicycle!

You don’t want to lock your knees, but you don’t want to bend them, either. Just keep the legs straight but supple, and keep the kick within the cylinder of your body.

Point your toes toward the bottom of the pool and try to feel the water on the tops of your feet as you kick forward with each leg.

Once you get the hang of it, try crossing your arms and putting your hands on your shoulders. This will make you work harder, but will help make your kick quick and compact.

Once you’re kicking well, lean back and level out on your back. Keep kicking, and then go into whatever drill you’re working on.