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Are You Ready for the Butterfly Stroke?

butterfly strokeJust as a butterfly flaps its wings and soars through the air with an easy glide, a talented swimmer doing the butterfly stroke, or “fly,” will rip through the water with a seemingly easy flow of the body. That is a bit deceptive, since this stroke actually requires significant strength, skill, and technique. It requires power to push your body through the water and pick up the speed needed to be competitive with this stroke.

Due to the difficulty in technique required to master this stroke, most children and beginning adult swimmers do not learn this stroke. They have to gain strength and skill through more basic strokes before they are deemed ready to take on the butterfly stroke.

Basic Body Positioning

You start the fly in a downward-facing position on top of the water. This is very similar to how you would start freestyle swimming, but the motion is very different once you kick off from the wall. Rather than moving one arm out in front of your body at a time, you move both arms together. The same goes for the legs, which stay together and move in one fluid motion together.

The arms pushing out of the water and thrusting out in front of your body simultaneously is what makes the butterfly stroke so difficult to master. It takes a lot of muscle and power to force the body forward with this type of two-armed stroke. It can be just as difficult to learn to flip the legs together with enough power and precision to propel your body forward.

Getting Started with the Fly

The first step to learning the butterfly stroke is to understand the basic movements required from your arms and legs. Practice moving your arms in the correct motion first, and then practice the legs. Once you understand the mechanics of the stroke, you can start putting the arms and legs together for more substantial practice.

You may not be very fast at first, but as your arms and legs build up muscle strength, you will start to improve in that area. Always master the technique first, and worry about speed last.

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