The Butterfly started out as a type of Breaststroke with an over-the-water recovery, but it is now clearly recognised as a stroke in its own right and with its own set of rules. It is always considered to be a very strenuous stroke, and many swimmers do not like performing it in training. It’s amazing the number of one arm swimmers we have when it comes to swimming “Fly”! However, everything becomes easier with practice and the only way to improve your Fly in races is to make sure you swim it in training (and swim it well). Here are a few hints to remind you how Fly should be swum.

Checklist – Arms

Hands enter water at a point between the centre of your head and your shoulders
Hands are turned out about 45 degrees with thumbs down and elbows slightly bent
Following entry, hands begin to sweep out and down
Hands follow a keyhole shape pull
As hands pass shoulders, elbows bend and remain high
Hands begin to sweep in towards stomach
At tummy button, hands push the water backwards towards the thighs, accelerating as they go
Hands are turned by thigh so that the palm faces legs and little finger leaves the water on top
Lift elbows out of water and recover hands over the water in a wide arc

Checklist – Kick

Both legs move together like a fishtail
Kick from the hips with a slight bend in the knees as you kick down
Toes should be pointed and feet turned towards each other slightly
Legs reach end of kick downwards, hips should rise and break the surface
Legs sweep upwards together with knees straight until top of kick where they flex to start the next down kick

Checklist – Body position and breathing

Remember the “H’s” – Hands enter, Head is down Hips are High
Kick down as hands enter and kick again as hands sweep backwards before starting the recovery
Let your body dive into the water as your hands enter and rise up to breathe
To breathe, lift chin on top of water. This happens as the hands stretch backwards from your tummy button

With the changing body position, timing is crucial in Fly. It is important that you get maximum use out of your kick and pull which helps to conserve energy during a race. Practising with flippers can aid balance and momentum and also increase ankle flexibility. At the end of the day, Butterfly is like telling a good joke – it requires excellent timing! practice, and practice, and…