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Learn to Swim Butterfly: Stoneskipper Drill

Stoneskipper is a swimming drill to practice when you are learning the butterfly stroke. In this drill, you focus on the underwater component of the arm stroke and breathing, along with the undulating movements of the body.

Stoneskipper follows Slide to the Corners and precedes Hip-Delay Butterfly in our series of swimming drills for the butterfly.

A swimmer practicing the Stoneskipper drill for the butterfly stroke.

Video Demonstration

The following video illustrates this drill:

Swimming Drill Instructions

The Stoneskipper drill combines two hand-lead body dolphins and two head-lead body dolphins, along with the underwater arm stroke and a simplified underwater arm recovery.

What to do:

  • Push off the wall in a face-down position with your arms stretched in front of you and your hands close together.
  • Perform a first hand-lead body dolphin, followed by a second one where you slide your hands to the corners.
  • As you release your chest at the end of the second undulation, sweep your hands to your chest and then to your hips.
  • As you perform these arm movements, your chest rises up and forward, like a stone skipping across the surface of the water.
  • Perform one head-lead body undulation with the arms at your sides. Then, as you undulate a second time, sneak your hands forward below your chest and face before fully extending your arms into the forward position.
  • Stop to breathe. Then start another drill cycle, and repeat.
  • Once you are comfortable with this drill, add breathing. To do so, raise your head and chest a bit more above the water while performing the underwater arm stroke and take a quick breath before your head and chest drop back into the water.

Additional Tips

  • While your face is in the water, exhale continuously in a controlled manner.
  • If you need help in the beginning, you can use a swim snorkel and swim fins, if you find them useful. Just don’t become too dependent on them.

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!