Once, when I tried to do butterfly, the lifeguard came up to me when I was resting on the wall and asked it I was alright. Many swimmers especially those of us who did not grow up swimming stay far away from the butterfly stroke; people feel like it is super cool for those who can do it, but if you can’t, then don’t even bother. However, I want to make the argument to you, that you should give butterfly a second shot.
Even for triathletes butterfly has some benefits. For one, it is a great workout. Doing 25 yard/m repeats will tire you out in no time all the while building strength. Because of the form of the stroke, it will open up your shoulders and extend your range of motion that might be tight and small after miles of freestyle. The form will also help you with timing; this awareness of kick to stroke will carry over to your freestyle. To do butterfly well you have to time your kick and stroke perfectly. Moreover, it also is a nice break from the monotony of free style. With butterfly, you are completely engaged and not staring (glaring on some days) at that black line. Still not sold? The kick motion will engage your core more and chisel that six pack without doing crunches.
If you are ready to get into the water, I do have some recommendations to help you along the way so that you do not look like you are having a seizure in the water. First, go onto YouTube and look at videos of people doing butterfly in slow motion. In particular, focus on timing of the kick, the undulation of the head, the placement of the hands (catch), and the track of the hands (pull). When you do get to the pool, practice just the kick at first. This is a great workout in and of itself if you are bored with regular kick. When you are ready to try out the stroke, I would wear fins which will help with your body undulation. Also start small, with only 25 yards and then build from there. Pay particular attention to your kick to stroke ratio.
If you have a swim coach or masters coach on deck and you want to take your butterfly to the next level have them review your stroke. Like freestyle, eyes on deck will help tremendously.
More off season tips to come so stay tuned.
Coach Chris and Kev