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Learn to Swim Butterfly: Slide to the Corners Drill

Slide to the Corners is a drill to learn the butterfly stroke. It comes next after Hand-Lead Body Dolphin in our series of butterfly drills.

Slide to the Corners lets you practice the setup of the arms before the underwater pull and its connection to the body undulation.

A novice swimmer who practices the slide to the corners drill for the butterfly stroke

Drill Instructions

Here are the instructions on how to practice this drill. 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 shoulder width apart.
  • Do three body undulations as you practiced in Hand-Lead Body Dolphin.
  • As you press your chest down in the water at the end of the third pulse, slide your arms apart under the water surface until they form a V-shape. Keep your arms high as you do this. This is called sliding to the corners.
  • Feel how the tension builds up in your upper body in this position, like a loaded spring. Later, when swimming butterfly, you will use this tension to add power to your pull.
  • Slide your arms back to their parallel position as you release your chest.
  • Stop, catch your breath, and repeat the procedure.
  • Add breathing once you get the hang of sliding your arms to the corners. After sliding your arms to the corners and as your arms return to the parallel position, raise your chest and head above the water to take a quick breath. Then immediately proceed with the next pulses.
  • Experiment with the number of undulations you can add or remove between each breath.

Video Demonstration

The following video illustrates this drill:

Additional Tips

  • Keep your hands relaxed while you practice this swimming drill. Don’t use your hands to begin the body undulation, or to raise your head above the water surface for breathing.
  • At first, you can use a swimmer’s snorkel to avoid having to stop to breathe.
  • Look down 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...