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The Butterfly Stroke: Anything is Possible

December 06, 2013 0 Comments

The butterfly stroke.
It’s intimidating and extremely strenuous!  Why would anyone in their right mind ever want to use this stroke??


Did you know that butterfly was consider a variation of breaststroke until the 1956 Olympics?  After it was invented in 1933, it was widely recognized as faster than breaststroke since the recovery didn’t occur underwater.  So everyone started using the butterfly stroke in their breaststroke competitions!
And did you know that the butterfly’s peak speed (right after the pull) is actually faster than freestyle?
It’s also the most difficult stroke to execute, both in terms of technique and physical strength.  But these tips can help you get there eventually!


Legs are by far the easiest part of the butterfly stroke.  The butterfly, or “dolphin” kick, resembles how a fish tail moves through the water.
It’s the same kick that you do after a dive to reach the surface and gain the most distance as quickly as possible!
Think about how ocean waves move.  You want your legs to move up and down in a similar pattern, in a fluid, cyclical motion.
There are two kicks per stroke.  Your legs kick as your hands enter the water, and kick HARD as they finish the pull.  So a small kick, followed by a bigger kick to lift up your body.
Make sure that your legs stay together the whole time!  Imagine that they’re glued together permanently if it helps.


Now for the arms.  Once you have that big kick to lift your body up, your head will break the surface.  This is when your arms swing into motion.
Take a breath, tuck your chin, and keep moving your arms over your head.  Always lead with your elbows (keeping your arms slightly bent).
Your arms should start from behind you (at your side), swoop over your head, and end outstretched directly in front.


Breathing occurs when you would expect…when your head’s raised out of the water!  This is right after the big kick.
But the window of time is small, since butterfly is very fast-paced.  And if you miss that chance, you’re going to be extremely out of breath by the next chance you get.
So make sure that you’ve exhaled all your old air underwater.  That way you can focus on inhaling for that split second that you have.

Don’t forget…

The most important part of butterfly is the timing and rhythm!  Use your core to undulate your body like a wave, cutting through the water.
Touch the wall with two hands simultaneously or you’ll be disqualified!

Your thoughts

I love the butterfly!  I think it’s absolutely breathtaking (no pun intended).  Why do you love to swim or watch the butterfly?

Ally Henley
Ally Henley

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