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We recently had a training to equip our instructors how to better teach their upper level swimmers the butterfly stroke.


Whether you love it or hate it, swimming butterfly requires a lot of power and good technique. It is often considered the most difficult swim stroke and can also be a lot of fun because of the movement in the water.


History of the stroke

The butterfly evolved from the breaststroke and was originally swam with the breaststroke kick. The dolphin kick was added and later and in 1952, the butterfly was established as an individual stroke by the International Swimming Federation.


A good butterfly stroke includes small, fast kicks where the feet are kept together. A good rule of thumb is: the bigger the splash, the slower you are going. You want small, fast whips. The core muscles are the powerhouse to your kicks.



Push, Pull, Recover

The stroke has three major parts: the pull, the push, and the recovery.


PULL: Swimmer starts with their arms out in front and pulls them down, reaching their thumb to their thigh.


PUSH: Swimmer pushes their arms underneath their body, and then back up and over.


RECOVERY: Swimmer swings their arms sideways across the water’s surface to the front (with the elbows straight) before diving back into the water, creating a wave-like body movement.


Fun Facts about the Butterfly


  • It is the newest competitive swimming style.
  • Michael Phelps holds 6 Olympic gold medals in individual butterfly events.
  • Phelps also holds the world record for the 200m butterfly.
  • It is considered the most difficult stroke of the four.
  • Competitive swimmers need to touch the wall with both hands simultaneously when turning, as opposed to one hand when swimming backstroke and freestyle.
  • Swimmers may stay underwater for a maximum of 15 meters at the start of the race and after turns.


Your turn to fly

If you have a swimmer who wants to try out for a swim team next summer, or you want to learn the butterfly stroke for yourself, sign up for our private lessons. Out instructors can help you learn this difficult and unique stroke so you can fly too.