The butterfly stroke has a special place among the competitive swimming strokes. It has a reputation of being hard to learn. It is quickly exhausting. Yet when you have mastered this stroke, swimming a few lengths of butterfly can be a lot of fun because of its spectacular and powerful movements.
Butterfly Stroke Video
Let’s have a look at how Michael Phelps swims butterfly:
Let’s analyze the different phases of the butterfly stroke. We imagine that the swimmer is in the following initial position:
- He floats horizontally on his chest.
- The head is in line with the torso, the face is turned downwards.
- The arms are extended forward and shoulder width apart. The palms are facing downwards.
- The legs are extended and together, the knees are slightly bent.
- The feet are pointed.
Now the swimmer begins the stroke cycle:
- The chest is pressed downwards, then released.
- The arms move a little bit outwards, then bend at the elbows and the forearms and palms are brought into a backwards facing position.
- The chest starts to rise.
- The hands move backwards and inwards towards the chest.
- Simultaneously, the hips drive down and the knees bend.
- The hands arrive below the chest and change directions to move towards the hips.
- As the hands move from below the chest towards the hips, a first dolphin kick occurs.
- Shortly after the chest and shoulders are at their highest point and clear the water.
- The hands exit the water close to the hips with the palms facing inwards and the recovery of the arms start.
- The arms hover above the water surface and return to their initial position. Simultaneously the palms rotate so that at the end of the recovery they are turned downwards again.
- When the arms are fully extended forward and shoulder width apart, they enter the water.
- A second dolphin kick occurs.
- The next stroke cycle begins.
The following articles cover the butterfly stroke technique in more detail:
Body Movements: The wave-like body movements are at the heart of the butterfly stroke. This article explains how to generate this body undulation.
Arm Stroke: This article discusses the different phases of the arm stroke and how to properly execute each phase.
The Dolphin Kick: Explains and demonstrates the dolphin kick. Covers technique, number of kicks per stroke cycle, propulsive phases plus some additional tips.
Breathing Technique: Explains when and how to breathe while swimming butterfly. Also covers breathing to the side and breathing frequency.
Learn How To Swim
Learn How To Swim Butterfly: This article gives an overview of our swimming lessons to learn the butterfly stroke.
- At first you learn the body undulation and dolphin kick which are the foundations of the stroke.
- The next step is to practice the under water arm sweep.
- Afterwards you learn the recovery of the arms above the water.
- Finally you combine all the movements practiced in the previous swimming drills until you actually swim butterfly.