Butterfly stroke is the most recent stroke, developed in the 1950's, and it is the second fastest stroke to Front Crawl.
The swimmer requires a great deal of upper body strength and can be very physically demanding; therefore it is a swimming stroke that is swum competitively rather than recreationally.
The stroke evolved from Breaststroke as it also contains a simultaneous leg action and a simultaneous arm action.
Butterfly is best known for it's undulating body movement and huge dynamic arm action.
Click on an image for more information.
The arm action is similar to front crawl as it requires and long pull towards the hips and a high recovery over the water surface. However the butterfly arm technique is more explosive and powerful than front crawl and is of course simultaneous instead of alternating.
The leg action for butterfly stroke is a powerful downward kick that originates from the head. The whole body moves in a wave-like dolphin movement that results in a large knee bend and a powerful kick.
The power of the kick assists the body to rise out of the water and begin another dolphin like movement.
The undulating action of the body and the legs create great demands of the spine, therefore there are many alternative exercises and practices that can be used to make learning the stroke easier and less physical.
Butterfly breathing technique is an explosive exhalation and then inhalation in the short second that the head and face are above the water surface.
Buoyancy is very important because the arms are recovered over the water the head is raised to breathe, therefore good floaters will achieve this far easier than poor floaters.
The timing and coordination of butterfly is usually a two beat cycle of leg kicks to one arm cycle. One leg kick should have enough power to assist the upper body out and over the water surface and the second leg kick to assist the arms as they recover just over the surface of the water.
If you are looking to learn or improve your basic butterfly swimming technique, you will find some simple yet effective exercises in my book 'How To Swim Butterfly'. Click here to download a free sample and take a look.
Alternatively, click here for some basic technical exercises.
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