How to Swim the Butterfly Stroke

If you are feeling adventurous, you might want to learn more about the butterfly stroke, which has been hailed as one of the most difficult swimming strokes to master. The reason it is so difficult is because it requires a high amount of precision as well as a well-practiced technique. But if you are a beginner, do not worry about not being able to master the butterfly stroke - with practice, you can definitely achieve it.

Here are some of the best tips and instructions for beginning, performing, and completing a butterfly stroke.

Positioning the Body

Get your body into position by practicing lying down as flat as you can. When in the water, you should be facing down, with your body parallel to the water’s surface. Think of it a little like floating, where you are facing downward. Once you have achieved this position, you can start to work on moving your arms and legs in the correct way.

Arms and Legs

Moving your arms the right way is probably the most difficult part of this stroke, but once you learn it, it will feel natural to you. It is called a butterfly stroke due to the way your arms move in and out, resembling butterfly wings. If you are familiar with the front crawl swimming stroke, then you already have an advantage, as you can apply that same method for the butterfly stroke - think of it as three separate phases.

First, you’ll want to put your arms out straight with palms facing downward, directly in front of you. Then, press down and out with both hands at the same time. Next, you should pull your hands back towards the body, allowing the force of the water to push you forward. Make sure your elbows are above your hands at all times. You should be able to feel how your strength impacted the water, making you move at increasing speeds.

Third, pull your arms out of the water and throw them back towards the starting position at the same time. You have completed the arm pattern.

You should move your legs in a series of two kicks, moving both feet simultaneously as if you have a mermaid tail. First, make a small kick to keep your body in balance after your arms hit the water for the first time. Then, make a second kick, this time a lot larger. This should be performed when your arms are in the third phase of movement, and are out of the water. This is what will keep you moving forward while your arms are not doing the work.

Moving Like a Wave

Make sure your body moves like an ocean wave while you swim. When you perfect the butterfly stroke, your body should look like a moving ‘S’ shape while you are in the water. It might help for you to allow yourself to go with the flow of the water, letting the feeling of movement take you over.

As soon as you figure out how to let your body flow with the motion, you will enter into a rhythm that allows you to take advantage of your natural speed and gliding without putting too much pressure on your arms and legs. After a while, you will realize that you don’t have to put as much effort on your arms and legs, so you won’t get tired as quickly.

Breathing Tips

The way you breathe while doing the butterfly stroke is important to completing it successfully. You have to time it right in order to get your breaths in, without sacrificing too much of your time and speed. Take a breath in the start of the third arm phase, when your arms are starting to lift out of the water. You can raise your chin above the water slightly, looking straight ahead as you take a quick breath in. You can exhale underwater while you complete the butterfly stroke.