Body position :
On the breast
Simultaneous pull-over of the arms
Dolphin-kick (or frog-kick)
The movement of the head
Frequently made mistakes with the butterfly
The butterfly is a relatively young swimming-stroke. The butterfly stems from the
breaststroke, because the contramovement of the arms are executed above the waterline.
The pull-through of the arms was extended in the direction of the hips, while initially
the legstroke of the breaststroke was maintained.
The differences between the breaststroke and the butterfly became bigger, just as the
differences between the times. That is why they decided to seperate these two
swimming-strokes and the butterfly as a single swimming-stroke became a fact. This
happened in 1952.
The Hungarian swimmer Tumpek was the first one who practised the dolphin
legstroke. Because of this the butterfly became a more continuous stroke. The butterfly
is, after the frontcrawl, the fastest swimming-stroke. The removal is less continuous
than the frontcrawl because of the simultaneous arm-movement. Also the position in the
water is less ideal, because the body moves too much in vertical directions.
The function of the head in the butterfly is very important. The relatively extreme
head-movement with regard to the trunk is very important. The body needs to follow this
head-movement sufficiently to make the changing hollow-round-position feel allright.
The timing of the head-movement on the arm-movement is decisive.
The timing of the
supporting leg-action has to be suitable for the hollow-round-position out of the
armstroke and the head-movement. Butterfly is the only swimming-stroke at which the back
plays an important role in the swim-movement. At the movement opportunities of the
shoulders, neck and back are set high requirements. A relatively large physical strength
is required; because of this the butterfly is unsuitable for long distances.
The arm-movement contributes in large amounts to the speed you swim:
- There can be brought a lot of power in it, because you pull your arms
through at the same time.
- The pull-through is a long movement, from far in front of the head to close
to the hips.
- The damsurfaces can be placed in a favourable position, which is similar
to the arm-movement of the frontcrawl.
- The pull-through is completed with both arms at the same time, through
which deviations in a straight line are exceptional.
- The pull-over is above the waterline, through which the resistance is
reduced to a minimum.
The armstroke can be divided in the following phases:
- Put in-phase
- (Short) glide-phase
- The lash out
- Pull-over of the arms
Push-phase to a pull-over
1. Put in
The put-in takes place on shoulderline or something out of there. Just like
the frontcrawl the arms are put-in on ¾ of their total length, at which the
little finger is pointed upwards. The touching of the watersurface is passive,
but the start of a specific bearing is an active process. The elbows are positioned
At the butterfly, the glide-phase is meant, just like at the other strokes,
to choose the right position for the hands (the damsurfaces). This is the
movement that the hands search for the begin of the pull-phase and in addition
the lowering of the shoulders is started.
Right after the glide-phase the pull-phase follows, in which the first movement
is pointed a bit sideways, with other words they move away from the shoulderline.
During the pull-phase the arms are bent more and more in the elbows and in
addition the direction of movement is pointed to the so called medianline
(= the vertical line that divides your body into two equal parts). At the end
of the pull-phase the damsurfaces (arms and hands) stand perpendicular on the
direction of movement and there is an angle of about 90 degrees in the elbows
and the hands are under the shoulders. This is all similar to the frontcrawl.
At this moment the pull-phase will pass into the push-phase. In the push-phase
the elbow will be stretched gradually, which is the same with the frontcrawl.
This movement is pointed to the back. At the end of the push-phase an
acceleration will occur. The arms will never be stretched completely.
5. The Lash out
The elbows will have left the water when the hands finish the last part of
the push-phase. The hands will leave the water via the hips, after they have
finished the last part of the pull-through to the back (with regard to the
direction of swimming). The palms of the hand are pointed to the back (because of the
acceleration in the push-phase), after which the backside of the hand is
turned to the water quickly.
The pull-over (also called contra-phase) takes place with almost
straight, relaxed arms. A light bow in the elbows is positive for this relaxing.
It is a wide, flat pull-over. Near the shoulderline the turning will be
continued, so that the palm of the hand is turned to the water. The head is
already in the water before the arms are put in the water.
The arms are almost straight with a light bow in the elbows.
The palms of the hand turn during the contra-phase to the watersurface again.
The head starts the move; in other words: the head is in the water before the arms start their move.
The function of the legs is both stabilising and damming. The butterfly's
legmovement is a succession of the up and down movement of both legs at the
same time. The move consists of an upbeat and a downbeat,
that are started out of the hips.
The downbeat begins out of the upper legs/ hips at the moment
the feet reach the highest point. An active bow takes place in the
hipjoint. The upper legs reach their lowest point, when the calfs
(or lower part of the legs) have not begun their downward movement
yet; the bow in the knees is now the largest. After the downward
movement of the upper legs follows a downward movement of the calfs.
The now following move is executed like a lash. The feet are relaxed.
During the last part of the downbeat of the calfs, the upper legs
already begin with the upbeat. The feet reach their lowest point at
the end of the downbeat, simultaneously with the full stretching of
The strength of the lifting effect of the legmovement at the butterfly is much
bigger than the frontcrawl's legmovement. The upbeat takes twice as much time
than the downbeat. The upbeat is an unbended movement. The legs go up out of
the hips and they are stretced because of the resistance of the water.
Because the movement is executed with both legs at the same time, the hips
go upwards during the downbeat. At the upbeat, at which the legs are stretched
again because of the water resistance, the hips go down. So the position of the
body changes continuously from hollow into round and back again.
The body's position is waving. We can discover two moments on which an active
damming legmovement starts:
- At the start of the arm-movement and
- Just before the swing of the arms, at the end of the push-phase.
Ad 1 :
At this moment the speed is minimal, so the legs serve as a primary support
for the forward speed. In addition, there is much frontal resistance and at
the moment the hips go upwards.
Ad 2 :
The speed of the arms is at this moment the largest. The hands leave the body
and the reaction on the body is the descending of the flat position.
The breathing must be well fit in in the stroke-rhythm, to interrupt as few
as possible. A well chosen moment to inhale is when the shoulders reach their
highest point and a small movement of the head is enough to bring the mouth
above the waterline. This moment is at the end of the push-phase and at the
beginning of the contra-phase (pull-over).
The breath out takes place during the put-in, pull- and push-phase.
Inhaling occurs via the mouth and breathing out via the mouth and nose. It is
recommended to breath after every 2 armstrokes. As a result of this way of
breathing, the frontal resistance is reduced to a minimum.
The movement of the head
In the pull-phase the head starts to go upwards little by little and is fully
raised during the inhaling. The head is brought between the arms again halfway
the pull-over, so that a good streamline makes a good put-in possible.
In this manner the head supports the waving movement, which is essential for
Frequently made mistakes with the butterfly
- The head moves too little.
- The head is raised too early to inhale.
- The legs are stretched in the upbeat as well as in the downbeat.
- The legs are bent in the knees in stead of the hips.
- Pulling through with stretched arms.
- Dragging through the water with the arms.
- A stop at the hips (the waving movement is interrupted).