Crossover Kick Swimming Technique

Swim team practicing kicking

Swimmers use their arms and legs together to form a speedy and efficient freestyle stroke. Sprinters require high levels of power as well as clean strokes to cross the finish line ahead of the field. Endurance is more key for distance swimmers; they need stamina to complete hundreds of meters at a time. The crossover kick swimming technique is an alternative freestyle kick aimed specifically at conserving energy.


The crossover kick is a type of freestyle kicking technique in which the swimmer's ankles cross one another. The kick is referred to as a two-beat or four-beat kick, with each downward kick being one beat. Crossover kick techniques include both major and minor beats to complete one kicking cycle.


Crossover kicking is used to conserve energy during distance and middle distance freestyle events. This technique is not meant to propel, as with a sprinting flutter kick. Swimmers using a crossover kick rely more on their arms for propulsion. The crossing over effect aids in the body rotation needed to complete the arm strokes and to breathe while swimming the freestyle stroke.


All crossing motions for the crossover kick are done at the ankle. Cross your right leg over your left as you complete a downward stroke in the water with your right arm. Kick down with your right leg as your right arm sweeps through the water. As your right arm finishes the upsweep and your left arm crosses your body, cross your left leg over your right. Perform a downward beat with your left leg as you complete the left arm stroke. This is one kicking cycle.

Body Lines

The mechanics of the crossover kick come naturally to some swimmers and are more difficult to master for others. Distance swimmers with near-equal strength and symmetry on both sides of their body, known as equal body lines, are most suited to the crossover kick. According to Belgium's Leuven Institute, swimmers who execute a two-beat crossover kick tend to have longer legs than those who employ more traditional freestyle kicks.