Tag: tips

How To Swim Butterfly With World Class Technique

Butterfly is considered the most difficult stroke to master. If it’s swum with improper form, the stroke is extremely tiring and inefficiently slow. If you’re struggling to improve your butterfly, this article is designed for you!

Butterfly was first introduced as a variation of breaststroke in the 1930’s. Originally, the stroke used today’s butterfly arm movement with a breaststroke kick. Today, this isn’t the case, and it’s one of the reasons people can be resistant to working on improving it.

Butterfly is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are the fundamental elements of a proper butterfly stroke:

Butterfly Timing

Timing is the most important part of the stroke. Every other component is an extension of the stroke’s timing:

1) The Catch:

  • Move the body forward to push water back
  • Fingers should be pointing down, with palms facing back
  • Think about bending the elbows so forearm angles vertically
  • Arms should go wide after the entry and extension

2) The Press:

  • Drive body forward with chin and chest
  • Chin should not be tucked or diving down
  • Pressing too deep can compromise the catch
  • 3 actions happen together:
    1. Press body forward
    2. Hands enter/extend forward
    3. Kick
  • Kick your press and entry forward!

Related: Why You Need a Structured Swim Training Plan

The Kick:

  • Two kicks, equal in power and size
  • 2nd kick (at exit) is the kick most often missed because the knees never bend to set it up
  • Drive knee downward (otherwise feet exit water)
    1. Kick hands forward and press forward
    2. Kick breathe forward

Breathing

Breathing too high or at the wrong time will kill a good stroke. The key is to stay low and breathe forward. Having a late breath is key. You need to focus on pulling forward to breathe. If you watch the best swimmers in the world (Michael Phelps below), you can see his chin just barely grazes over the surface of the water to catch air on the breath. The second kick is critical to drive the body forward.

Hand Entry, Pull Pattern, Recovery

The hand entry should be at shoulder width or just wider. The palms are downward facing and the thumbs should come in first or at the same time as the rest of the fingers. The most important part of the hand entry is being controlled so that you don’t create a lot of splash upon entering the water.

Next you need to focus on pushing the water back and initiating an early vertical forearm with your palms, forearm and rest of your arms. The pull pattern is dictated by how deep someone presses their chest and body. The pull’s finish sets the arms up for the recovery. This sweeping recovery should be controlled.

Breathing Pattern

Generally I believe in breathing every other stroke. If a swimmer has a strong underwater presence (12-15 meters underwater consistently) then it makes sense to breathe every stroke to prepare to go back underwater. Breathing every stroke should never compromise rhythm and mechanics.

Underwater Dolphin Kicks

The underwater dolphin kick has become a major component of swimming butterfly. Even if you do not race in competition, having a good kick technique applies to the overall stroke mechanics in keeping rhythm and tempo. In competition, the world’s best swimmers can spend up to 60% of a race under water (Short Course).

Even in long course competition like at the Olympics, the best swimmers are spending a considerable amount of time underwater. The best way to do this in a race is to work on it in training every single day.

Training Butterfly

It’s critical to learn the proper stroke technique before applying heaving training to your butterfly. This is true for all strokes, but most for the short axis strokes like butterfly and breaststroke. Because you’re already so inefficiently low in the water, it’s even more important to have the right technique and body position.

It’s important to reinforce proper technique. Butterfly is a rhythmic stroke. It’s not about power, it’s about mastering efficiency. The longer the distance, the more the stroke depends on posture, line, balance and rhythm.

Butterfly is a stroke that should be trained at speed. You need to focus on maintaining a higher body position with perfect form. Shorter distances of higher repeats are better than doing continuous butterfly. It’s also good to mix freestyle and butterfly within a distance.

For example, doing 10 x 100s (25 Butterfly, 25 Butterfly Drill, 25 Freestyle, 25 Butterfly), is a good way to break apart the stroke and be aerobically challenging.

These technique insights were gathered from a presentation given by Russell Mark, USA Swimming’s National Team High Performance Consultant . You can watch the full presentation, plus more interviews with other coaches here.

Looking for more butterfly workouts and drills? 

How do you swim breast stroke?

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (1): BREAST STROKE

The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement – the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery).

1. Catch – With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull – With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover – Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques!Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward.

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)

Helpful Tips

  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke.
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

How To Swim Breast Stroke

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (1): BREAST STROKE

The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement – the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery).

1. Catch – With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull – With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover – Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques!Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward.

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)

Helpful Tips

  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke.
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

How do you swim freestyle or front crawl?

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (2): FRONT CRAWL

The Freestyle is not actually a stroke but a category in swimming competition. The most common and popular stroke in freestyle races is the front crawl as this style is the fastest. For this reason, the term freestyle is often used as a synonym for front crawl.

The front crawl requires you to flutter kick your feet while reaching forward with alternating strokes. Follow these 4 steps to learn how to swim and refine your front crawl swimming technique.

Step 1: Body Position

Keep your body flat, lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm Movement

Your arm movement can be broken down to the simplest form consists just two actions – the Pull and Recovery.

  • Pull – With your palms facing down, pull in-line with your body with a slightly bent elbow all the way to the side of your upper thigh. Advanced swimmers can do a S-pull which maximizes the pulling phase.
  • Recovery – With your hand close to your upper thigh, lift one arm out of the water with a bent elbow. Reach forward over the water with a bent elbow and enter the water with your finger tips.

Both hands should alternate between these two movements and be moving simultaneously.

swimming freestyle arm movement

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Choosing a side to breathe will depend on being right or left handed. Whilst your hand is early in the recovery phase, turn your head sideways for a quick breath (one second). The trick is to time the roll of your head with your arm movement.

A very common mistake is to lift your head upwards instead of turning it sideways to avoid the water for breath. This is actually counter-productive as it disrupts your body positioning and causes you to dip further into the water.

Step 4: Leg Action

With ankles relaxed and flexible, point your toes behind you and kick up-and-down in a continuous motion from your thighs. Kicking from the calves is not as effective and a simple way to correct this is to make sure your legs are straightened out whilst kicking. For more details on this, refer to exercises you can do in the pool to improve your swimming.

Notes on Coordination

  • Your arms and legs should move simultaneously in cycles
  • A breath should be taken on one side with each stroke of that arm
  • A breath is taken when that arm is back. Exhale as the same arms enter the water

Helpful Tips

  • Stretch your arms as far as they can go to make a longer stroke. A large arm stroke is essential to speed and efficient swimming
  • Keep a straight body to reduce drag and make swimming easier
  • Take short quick breaths instead of long ones

Water Games To Play With Your Child

We have the following suggestions to help your little one get used to water:

  1. From an early age, pour or trickle water over his head and wet his eyes with a small cup, bucket, wet face cloth or sponge.
  2.  Never wipe his eyes to dry them and teach him from an early age to blink when he has water in his eyes.
  3. Blowing bubbles in the bath is fun. As he gets older, he can practice blowing through a straw. Blowing bubbles is essential for breathing during swimming.
  4. Floating toys in the pool is a great way to get him to move his arms and legs to get the toy.
  5. The ideal way to hold your baby in the pool is to hold him with your thumbs on his shoulder blades, ensuring that his chin is touching the water but making sure his mouth isn’t submerged so he doesn’t swallow water.
  6. From an early age, get him to jump to you in the water from a step or the side of the pool. Make sure you always catch him as he lands in the water (and not in the air).

By: Britt – Living and Loving.

Read more at: https://www.livingandloving.co.za/baby-blog/baby-general-articles/baby-swimming-lessons-everything-you-need-to-know