2 Steps to Mastering the Butterfly
By Clement Phua
September 16, 2016
If there is a list for the most-talked-about sports in Singapore, I reckon swimming would be at the top. Haven’t we all been touched by the performances of our athletics in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics?
Inspired by the Olympians, I have been trying to spread my wings in the pool like Schooling in Rio who made it seemed so effortless. My attempts sent me knocking on FINS Swim School’s for some much needed advice. It may not be easy but it would be worth it. (Think Schooling, Pin Xiu and Theresa! I can do this!)
Soaring Through the waters
The butterfly stroke (otherwise known as 'the fly’) is swum on the breast with both arms moving simultaneously and accompanied with a butterfly kick (aka the “dolphin kick”). This stroke is one of the toughest because it demands both good technique and strong muscles to pull it off. It was lauded as one of the most graceful strokes in the waters.
Want to fly in the pool too?
SAFRA has asked FINS Swim School coach Lionel Leong, Ex-International Swimmer for the ASEAN Swimming Championship, to demonstrate for us how a Butterfly is performed.
Here are 2 steps we need to look out for in order to come out of your cocoon and execute a beautiful Butterfly.
Step 1: Understanding the Pull
Check out the hand movement
Here is what to look out for:
- Your arms have to be extended above your head (shoulder width apart), pull your hands towards your body in a semicircular motion, palms facing outwards. Remember to keep your elbows higher than your hands.
This is the pull.
- At the end of the pull, begin pushing your palms backwards through the water, along your sides and past your hips. This is the fastest part of the arm movement and provides the momentum necessary to complete the release.
- The last part of the butterfly arm movement is the recovery which is where your hands must be positioned as they are in motion while finishing your pull and are getting ready to begin the subsequent stroke.
Essentially, your hands must reach your thighs.
SPECIAL NOTE: A good way to ensure that you have done this part of the stroke successfully is to have your thumbs placed on the side of your thighs as you are finishing the stroke.
Next, sweep both arms out of the water simultaneously and throw them forward into the starting position!
- Your palms should be facing outwards allowing your thumbs to enter the water first(not your pinkies). Also, make sure the distance between your arms as you enter the water is no greater than shoulder width apart as this will greatly decrease entry drag allowing you to cut through the water more efficiently.
Step 2: The Famous Dolphin Kick
FUN FACT: The dolphin kick is the name given to the dolphin-like kick of the legs used in butterfly stroke. Imagine kicking your legs like a dolphin (or a mermaid!) would kick its tail underwater.
Back to business… Here is how it should look like:
What to look out for:
- With the dolphin kick, both legs move simultaneously, and should be pressed together.
- You should kick twice for each stroke of the arms in butterfly stroke. SPECIAL NOTE: However, both kicks are not exactly the same - there is one small kick and one big kick.
- The small kick is performed while you are doing the pull with your arms. This is because your arms are providing forward momentum in addition to your legs, so the first kick does not need to be as strong.
- The big kick is performed during the recovery, when your arms come out of the water. During the recovery you tend to lose momentum, so you need a big kick to keep your body moving forwards.
- The most common mistake beginners make when performing the butterfly stroke is to kick in a uniform fashion, without alternating between small and big kicks.
After all the pointers, it should look like this!
Thanks coach for the demonstration!
Till next time, people!
Check out our easy 3 step guide to executing the Olympic Flip Turn and get that achievement unlocked.
Take this new found skill and participate in our upcoming Swim for Hope 2016 ! For the first time, there is a “Families for Life” Parent & Child category to foster harmony and build stronger bonds among family members at the same time raising funds for beneficiaries, Community Chest, SAF Care Fund and Special Olympics.
If you are inspired to brush up your butterfly, SAFRA FINS Swim School are located at the following SAFRA Clubhouses; SAFRA Toa Payoh, SAFRA Tampines, SAFRA Yishun and SAFRA Mount Faber. There are programmes that cater to various age groups, including a segment known as “Master’s Fitness and Adult Learn to Swim Programme”. For more details on SAFRA FINS Swim School click here.