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Lilly Stees

How to Swim Butterfly


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Background Information

Today, butterfly (more commonly known in the swimming world as fly) is one of the most recognizable sports in swimming, but it wasn’t always that way. In the mid-1930s swimmers and coaches had started to realize that it was much faster to recover your arms over your head in backstroke, hence the name “Butterfly”. Although an overarm finish was not uncommon, it was unfathomable at the time to compete it throughout the entire race. But a man named Henry Meyers was about to change the swimming world forever. In 1933, Myers competed the stroke in the 150-yard medley during the breaststroke portion. He insisted that the overarm recovery was legal as the rules of breaststroke as they defined at the time. Later, Jack Sieg developed the "Dolphin Kick", later accompanied by the overarm recovery, which was officially established as a stroke by the FINA in 1952.

Background Info

The first step you need to follow to achieve the phenomenal feat of swimming fly is to enter the water well. To execute this step, you will need a solid dive, in which your arms are firmly pressed at your ears, and you enter the water at approximately a 45-degree angle. This may take a few attempts, so try to maximize your downward velocity more and more each time. You will then want to perform 4-6 "dolphin kicks". Dolphin kicks consist of pressing your chest downwards and forcing your legs to move in a concise up-and-down motion.

Step 1: A Great Entrance

As soon as you encounter the air at the top of the water after your entrance, you will need a great breakout. To execute a standard breakout you will need to do a few things. First, you will do a dolphin kick once, and then start to break your arms away from your streamline. Bring them to about a 75-degree angle slightly close to your face. About a fourth of a second in, you will kick again as you bring your hands down to about your hip-thigh area. your elbows should be bent at about a 55-degree angle. You will then bring your arms out of the water and to the side while straightening them. Then drag them forward until they are at your ears.

Step 2: The Breakout

Next comes the most important part of your race: The stroke. Your stroke is broken up into two main parts: Your arms and your legs. We will start with your legs. For your legs, you will want to be dolphin-kicking hard and fast. You need to emphasize pressing your chest down and sticking your butt out. Your kick is mainly through your chest, so you need to power it through it. Bend your knees slightly, and let the kick ripple through them. Finally, put this all together with exact timing. As you are halfway through your first kick, start your arms and make sure to end your kick and arms at the same time.

Step 3: Your Stroke

After you do your stroke down to the other end of the pool, you will need to do a turn. Your turn is very important, and make or break your race. To do your turn, you will want to grab the wall with 2 hands, drop your elbow to your hip area, and push off. You will then pull your hands into a streamline, and do 4-6 dolphin kicks off the wall. You will then repeat your breakout, stroke, and turns for however many lengths are left in the race until the last length of the race.

Step 4: The Turn

The final part of your stroke is the finish. Your finish is a relatively simple task, and shouldn't take longer than a few attempts to master. Once you are on your final length, start swimming exceptionally fast until about the flags. Once you reach the flags, you will want to do approximately 3-4 strokes until the wall. Once at the wall, dunk your head underwater and do one last dolphin kick into the wall. Once you have your hands firmly pressed into the wall, congratulations! You have completed arguably the hardest stroke in swimming!

Step 5: The finish