Learn How to Swim Butterfly Stroke Faster

Butterfly Swimming Stroke

First introduced to competition in year 1933

History and all you need to know about “fly” stroke

Butterfly stroke is a recent stroke developed between 1920 to 1953. 

The butterfly stroke swimming itself looks like a breaststroke; a single person did not invent it. A handful of swimmers who were all trying to do out of water recoveries created it while swimming breaststroke. 

It is the second faster stroke often used in swimming competitions second to front crawl. The butterfly strokes is a more advance stroke evolved from breaststroke. It contains the same simultaneous leg action and simultaneous arm action similar to breaststroke. 

These strokes are usually swum competitively and not for recreational use. It requires a great deal of the upper body strength and is physically demanding. The undulating action of the body and the legs will create a great demand for the spine. Varieties of practices and exercises are used to make the butterfly easier and less physical. 

Butterfly stroke is a recent stroke developed between 1920 to 1953.
It was first swum in competition during 1933, originating most of the coordination, movement, actions, and pace from breaststroke.

The stroke itself contains many similarities to breaststroke; a single person did not invent it. A handful of swimmers who were all trying to do out of water recoveries created it while swimming breaststroke.

It is the second faster stroke often used in swimming competitions second to front crawl. However, the peak speed of the butterfly is faster than freestyle due mainly to the synchronous pull, push with both arms and legs done quickly.

Overall, still slower than freestyle due to the significant drop in speed during the recovery phase. And the extreme physical exertion it puts on the swimmer compared to freestyle. It usually burns the energy of the person performing the stroke faster.

The butterfly stroke is a more advance stroke that evolved from breaststroke. The “fly” is a more advanced stroke that requires a good technique and strong muscles, unlike other strokes like backstroke, front crawl, breaststroke.

It contains the same simultaneous leg action and simultaneous arm action similar to breaststroke.

These strokes are usually swum competitively and not for recreational use. It requires a great deal of the upper body strength and is physically very demanding. The undulating action of the body and the legs will create a high demand for the spine. Varieties of practices and exercises are used to make the butterfly easier and less physical. If you need correction of strokes and wish to swim more efficiently with “fly” stroke, you may check our stroke correction swimming lessons.

How does the butterfly stroke swimming body position look like?

▷The body moves in a wave-like motion in the water.
▷The hips will move up and down in undulating movement.
▷There is a continuous undulating action during butterfly; thus, the body position varies throughout the stroke. The body will undulate from head to toe, producing a dolphin-type action.
▷The body is in a prone face down position with the crown of the head leading the whole undulating action.
▷Make sure to have your shoulders remaining level throughout the stroke.
▷The head should remain at all times central, still and looking down until breathing is required.
▷Hips have to be positioned inline with the shoulders, remaining parallel to the direction of the travel.

You have to know the function of the butterfly stroke leg action and how do we do it “right”?

▷ The simultaneous leg kick action from the butterfly stroke comes from the knee. The leg accelerates in a downbeat to provide the propulsion of the butterfly. 
▷ The legs kick simultaneously with the action and application of pressure in water the same as the front crawl. The differences between flutter kick and dolphin kick are usually more powerful, happening simultaneously and a noticeable knee bend. 
▷ The upbeat action of the kick should come from the hip. 
▷ Toes are relaxed, and the ankle is pointing straight. 
▷ Knees bend and straighten on the downbeat to provide propulsion. 
▷ Legs accelerate to provide the power on the downbeat.

Butterfly stroke: Arm action

Arm action is a continuous simultaneous movement that requires upper body strength. The arm action is similar to the front crawl and the underwater catch, down sweep and upsweep part draws the shape of a ‘keyhole’ through the path of its movement. 

Entry

▷ The hand entry into the water should be fingertips first with the thumb leading. 
▷ Fingers should be close up together with the palms flat facing outwards
▷ Arms should stretch forward with a slightly bent elbow. 
▷ The arms should look like a “T” shape with your body, and arms extended inline to your shoulders. 

Catch and down sweep action

▷ The pitch of the down sweep then changes to a deeper angle with the hands almost vertical in the water. 
▷ The catching and down sweep action should begin just outside the shoulder line. 
▷ Palms remain facing in the direction of the travel.
▷ Elbow should bend to 90 degrees to provide the extra power required in this stroke.
▷ The hands do the sweeping action in a circular motion identical to breaststroke but in a downwards path. 

Upsweep

▷ Pitching of the hand changes to face out and upwards towards the water surface. 
▷ Elbows will extend fully to straighten the arms and hands away from the thigh. 

Recovery

▷ The hands and arms in the butterfly stroke should clear the water on recovery to increase efficiency and abide by ASA’s competition laws. 
▷ Arms and shoulders will exit the water fully with little fingers leading facing upwards. 
▷ Arms must clear the surface when they are “thrown” over and front.
▷ Palms will remain facing outwards, naturally giving a thumb-first entry.
▷ The hand entry into the water should be fingertips first with the thumb leading. 
▷ Fingers should be close up together with the palms flat facing outwards
▷ Arms should stretch forward with a slightly bent elbow. 
▷ The arms should look like a “T” shape with your body, and arms extended inline to your shoulders. 

Butterfly stroke: Breathing

▷ The inhalation process for butterfly stroke swimming takes place when the arms complete the upsweep and begin to recover. This is when the body starts to rise. 
▷ The head is lifted, chin pushes forward and still remains at the water surface. 
▷ The head is then pushed forward, lowered into the water quickly as the arms recover in line with the shoulders. 
▷ Explosive breathing is usually preferred, but a combination of trickle together with explosive breathing, both can be used. 

Butterfly stroke swimming: Timing

▷ One stroke cycle should contain two leg kicks and one arm cycle. 
▷ The first downbeat of the kicks should occur at the catch and down sweep phase. 
▷ The downbeat of the second leg kick occurs during the upsweep phase of the arm cycle. 
▷ Breathing can occur on every stroke cycle or every two-stroke cycles, depending on your comfort level.
▷ One stroke cycle should contain two leg kicks and one arm cycle.
▷ The first downbeat of the kicks should occur at the catch and down sweep phase. 
▷ The downbeat of the second leg kick occurs during the upsweep phase of the arm cycle. 
▷ Breathing can occur on every stroke cycle or every two-stroke cycles, depending on your comfort level.

Drills to Help You Learn Butterfly Swimming: Body Position, Leg Action, Arm Action, Breathing, and Timing

Butterfly Body Position Drills

  • Poolside holding static drill
  • Diving dolphin in shallow pool
  • Gliding and pushing like a dolphin

Butterfly Leg Action Drills

  • Poolside sitting kicking drill
  • Push off glide with added dolphin leg kick
  • Prone position holding float with both hands
  • Prone position holding a noodle with both hands
  • Supine position, hands by the side with dolphin leg kicks drill
  • Kicking and rolling with dolphin kick drills

Butterfly Arm Action Drills

  • Poolside standing and land butterfly arm drills
  • Walk across the pool floor arm drill in shallow water
  • Pushing and gliding with arms drill
  • Isolation arm drills with pull buoys
  • Butterfly arm actions with breaststroke kicks

Butterfly Breathing Drills

  • Stand, breath with arm pulls
  • Full stroke drill

Butterfly Timing

  • Full stroke

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