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Learn to Swim Butterfly: Slide to the Corners Drill

Slide to the Corners is a swimming drill to practice when learning the butterfly stroke. In this drill, you practice bringing the arms into position for the underwater arm stroke, as well as connecting your arm stroke with your body’s core muscles for enhanced efficiency.

Slide to the Corners follows Hand-Lead Body Dolphin and precedes Stoneskipper in our series of swimming drills for the butterfly stroke.

A swimmer practicing the Slide to the Corners drill for the butterfly stroke.

Video Demonstration

The following video illustrates this drill:

Drill Instructions

To practice this drill, follow the steps below. You can find the corresponding video a little further down.

  • Push off the wall in a prone (face down) position with your arms extended forward and your hands close together.
  • Perform three hand-lead body undulations in a row.
  • As you press your chest down in the water at the end of the third undulation, slide your hands outward until they are a little more than shoulder-width apart. This is called sliding to the corners.
  • Notice how, as you push your chest down and stretch your arms apart, tension builds up in your upper body and core muscles—tension that can be released by performing an arm stroke.
  • Release your chest and slide your hands back together.
  • Stop, take a breath, and then repeat the exercise.
  • After a bit of practice, try to incorporate the butterfly breathing technique into your body undulation. Try raising your head and upper body more than usual as you release your chest and slide your hands together. Take a quick breath as your face is above the water and continue undulating.
  • After a bit of practice, try to reduce the interval between breaths—for example, by reducing it to every other drill cycle, or even every drill cycle.

Additional Tips

  • As always, a swim snorkel and swim fins can be helpful in the beginning as you’re practicing.
  • Don’t push your arms down to raise your head and upper body to breathe. Keep your arms just below the water’s surface and use the momentum of your body undulation instead.
  • Look downward and slightly forward while breathing.

Learning Path for the Butterfly Stroke

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the butterfly stroke. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim butterfly without any problems.

Good luck!


Tuesday 24th of October 2017

Instructions are very helpful... good job.

Hari Gadepalli

Friday 22nd of June 2012

This is the best site for swimming, well explained on every stroke... Thanks very much for the details...

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