The Butterfly is a powerful and graceful stroke. Learning correct timing and technique is the key to mastering this stroke. The Butterfly uses the whole body in a forward flowing motion. Moving together, your arms pull underwater and recover over the surface of the water, as your legs kick in unison upward and downward, your body position is facedown horizontal and streamlined.
Your body and arms drive forward together. Powered by the fluid motion of your abdominals, hips and legs. This continuous motion, combined with good timing, drives your body forward throughout the water. The kick, breath, and pull work in harmony with one another to create efficient form. There are two strong kicks for each arm stroke. The first occurs as your hands enter the water, and the second occurs at the finish of the arm stroke. As your hands enter the water press forward and downward with your chin and chest while extending your legs for the downbeat of the first kick. In the downbeat of the first kick your hips rise and your head and chest press forward. During the catch your upper body begins to rise toward the surface and continues to rise during the mid-pull while your hips drop and your knees bend to prepare for the second kick, start the downbeat of the second kick at the finish of the mid-pull.
As the arm stroke finishes and the second kick ends your hips lift again while your upper body stays near the surface. To help your arms just clear the water during arm recovery. Your upper body reaches its maximum height during the finish of the arm stroke and the end of the second kick. During the finish of the arm stroke, thrust your chin forward until your face clears the surface. Be sure to keep your mouth just above the surface to breathe. Lifting your head to high will cause your hips to sink. Inhale as you start your arm recovery. Then press down with your chin and chest to return your face to the water. Your head is on its way back down by the midpoint of the recovery. Some swimmers breathe with every stroke. Others take two or more strokes between breaths to increase speed and efficiency.
In the arm stroke for the butterfly both arms move together. Catch, mid-pull, and finish. The power phase begins with the catch, as your hands enter the water, your arms are extended in front of your shoulders with your fingertips pointing down and your palms facing your feet. As the catch progresses, your palms turn slightly outward. As you bend your elbows and move your forearms and hands outside your shoulders. Keeping your elbows higher than your hands press your forearms and palms to a point at the waist that is just inside the width of your body. As your hands push back, keep your elbows higher than your hands. To finish the power phase continue to press your hands back past your hips. Your hands will finish slightly outside the width of your body. A forceful finish gives you a powerful burst of forward motion. Accelerate your arms all the way through the finish to make it easier for you to swing your arms out and around for the recovery. Both of your arms recover over the water simultaneously and your arms stay almost straight.
The recovery starts as your hands exit. The water leading with your hands. Swing your arms out to the side just above the surface of the water. Keep your wrists relaxed and thumbs down throughout the recovery. Your hands reenter the water in front of your shoulders. Continue to extend your arms forward and begin the next arm stroke. Now watch the entire arm stroke for the butterfly.
Use the dolphin kick when you swim the butterfly. Keep your legs and feet together and use a whip like motion. The kick starts at the upper abdominals and hips. Bend your knees to start the downbeat. Extend your legs during the downbeat. Being sure to follow through. Keep them straight on the upbeat. Keep your ankles relaxed. Let your heels just break the surface. Think of the kick as a movement of your whole body, not just your legs. Now watch the entire butterfly stroke. Notice the timing, flexibility and rhythm.