Butterfly Swimming with a Frankenstein Approach

butterfly swimming
Photo Credit JD Lasica

With butterfly swimming we are looking to develop the following components:

  • High elbow catch with a focus on proper hand entry placement
  • Correct breath timing
  • The timing of the ‘big’ kick matched with the finish of the pull

If Frankenstein was a Butterflier

The butterfly stroke is centered around developing an efficient, long cycle. To be utilized for both 100yd-200m, and the beginning of IMs. So the butterfly stroke we develop affords athletes the ability to control their butterfly swimming as required by a specific race.

In managing stroke length and efficiency, the ability to vary tempo comes through altering how long the hands stay in front of the shoulders before they move backward.

Subsequently, for most, this changes the amplitude of the stroke, adding another facet to tempo change.

Butterfly Body Position

The swimmer who specializes in the 100yd/m butterfly (as opposed to swimming both fly events) often has a much flatter stroke with a smaller amplitude than the 200yd/m butterfly swimmer.

With that, it is worth noticing, if done correctly, increasing amplitude, although theoretically slower, teaches swimmers to produce power from their body, relieving strain from the arms.

The balance of magnitude and tempo/speed is evaluated when selecting an event structure for the swimmer.

Butterfly Kicking

Like most swimming at a high level, a great kick is a prerequisite.

Fortunately for butterfly swimmers, it is relatively easy to learn world-class butterfly kicking techniques.

And while there are ‘genetic’ advantages to hyperextension in a swimmers knees or ‘flexible ankles’, well-taught technique can overcome almost any preconceived competitive advantage

Butterfly Catch

Although much less common than in freestyle swimming, achieving a high elbow catch in butterfly is as essential as it is in freestyle. The same principles apply.

Hand entry at or slightly inside the line of the shoulder. The more flexible the shoulder, the more narrow they can enter and still be effective.

Butterfly Breath Timing

The finish of the pull and snap of kick. For most swimmers, the term ‘recovery’ is not appropriate in the butterfly stroke cycle.

Athletes who time the finish of their pull and snap of kick correctly can relax their arms and shoulders on the recovery part of the stroke.

Butterfly Swimming Drills and Tips

Consider shoulder flexibility and leg strength when determining fly swimming technique and event choice.