Good butterfly swimming is fun to watch although learning to swim butterfly is often regarded as the most difficult stroke due to its unnatural style.
But it does not need to be! Yes, the butterfly stroke requires the most upper body strength of all the four swimming strokes, as the arms must recover over the water. And true, it is usually taught as the final stroke to swimmers who want to learn the four swimming strokes, due to the demands of the stroke. But learning to put this stroke together with the correct technique, can be a fantastic new swimming stroke within your weekly training sessions.
Competitive freestyle (frontcrawl) swimmers often train on butterfly workouts to help develop their upper body strength. Triathlon swimmers are training on this stroke more and more and seeing the benefits of the use of butterfly in their training sessions as they pull though the water more powerfully.
Building your butterfly stroke
Learning to swim butterfly with ease and confidence takes practice. This stroke developed over the years from breaststroke, initially swum with a breaststroke kick rather than the dolphin kick that is commonly used today. The undulating, wave like motion developed as the dolphin kick became the most efficient way of swimming the butterfly stroke (with two dolphin kicks per arm stroke ultimately become the fastest way of performing the stroke without interfering with the powerful double arm pull).
The butterfly stroke is best known for its undulating movement of the body, with a dolphin leg kick that comprises of both legs kicking down and then upwards simultaneously. Building the timing of all elements of the stoke (the arm cycle, the breath sequence and the leg action) is taught by developing each part separately by our Strictly Swimming Coaches in a series of progressive drills. Ultimately, all parts will be combined together and you will be swimming the full butterfly stroke.
Therefore, whether you simply want to learn butterfly as a new skill, or add to your triathlon training to develop upper body power and strength, our coached swimming lessons will help you develop your technique and achieve this.
The need for swimming drills in learning to swim correctly and efficiently has been adopted by swimmers and coaches across the world for decades.
A drill can be used by adult swimmers of all levels during lessons and is simply a specific exercise that focuses on a particular aspect of a swimming stroke. By isolating one aspect of the swimming stroke, drills have proven to correct stroke technique and speed up the learning process of new skills (for both children and adult lessons).
Swimming drills are designed to be progressive, teaching you one skill at a time. This progressive (stage by stage) process allows you to learn any of the four strokes at your own pace, with the knowledge that you are swimming in a controlled, emphasised manner.
There are various aims and goals when using drills during lessons, including developing balance in the water, correcting body roll, increasing hold on the water amongst many others. Correcting your drills during lessons is important if you want to master an effective swimming technique. Like children, adult swimmers should learn to build up a drill progressively and slowly (with logical sequences) and increase the level of difficulty of the drill as you feel stronger and more controlled. When reverting to your regular swimming stroke, you should feel stronger, faster and swimming with less effort.
Competitive swimmers train endlessly with the use of drills, as they have proven to improve swimming technique and efficiency significantly. Even adults learning to swim should and do follow the same method.
Why do adult swimmers need to practice swimming drills?
When we perform drills during our training or lessons, our movements are usually completely differently or exaggerated than we would normally perform during our regular swimming stroke. Old problems or bad habits in the stroke can be identified and eliminated by the sheer nature of emphasizing a stroke point during a drill. Isolating a stroke problem is vital in relearning any part of the stroke. The biggest issue in stroke correction for adults is getting the body to forget old patterns that actually feel natural (even if they are incorrect). With practice and lessons, drills can reprogram a swimmer’s action and muscle memory. Breaking down every single element into components, plus repeated practice of these components, creates this muscle memory and overcomes old habits. Training the body to replicate these actions over and over again is the ultimate goal of swimming drills. This ‘re-training’ of the body is needed on every single progression (stage) of the drill.
The best way to practice swimming drills as adults
It is very easy to perform a drill without a specific focus. Equally, one of the common problems of a training on swimming drills, is to focus on too many technique points. Select one technique component and focus completely on this component during a given swimming lesson. Once this is mastered, refocus on a new component on the next lesson.
During your lessons, always practice your drills by swimming steadily and controlled and never rush your stroke. Be aware that a new drill can take a couple of lessons to master.
The sooner you start incorporating perfect swimming drills into your routine as a beginner adult, the sooner you will gain strength, balance and power into your swimming. Our coaches and lessons will help you develop and extensive list of swimming drills that you can use during your own workouts to make you a faster, stronger swimmer.
Paul started competing in swimming from the age of 8 and eventually went on to represent his country all over the world. During his time at University, Paul specialised in Aquatics and the Biomechanics of Swimming and produced numerous theses on swimming performance.