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Butterfly Stroke Swimming: How I Mastered the Butterfly Stroke

How I Mastered the Butterfly Stroke

Although by the age of ten I was a reasonably confident swimmer, one stroke I just could not seem to master was the butterfly.

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Watching others glide through the water with apparent ease in a fluid coordinated movement, my attempts at butterfly stroke invariably ended in a jumble of arms and legs accompanied by much coughing and spluttering.

Try as I might, I just couldn't seem to coordinate my body to do this graceful stroke.

My attempts seemed to cause much mirth amongst my swimming companions.

The butterfly stroke is traditionally one of the hardest swimming strokes to learn and master. It requires a great deal of upper body strength together with a fair amount of coordination. It is for this reason that it is usually one of the last strokes swimmers learn, usually only after all other swimming strokes have been mastered. Done correctly, the stroke embodies the grace and fluidity of the butterfly, when done incorrectly; it can give the impression of a drowning sea turtle.

Around that time, a new swimming teacher was employed by our school. Blessed with an infinite amount of patience she declared that not only could she teach me to do a perfect butterfly stroke, but she also had so much faith in my ability to master the technique that she chose me to represent the school at the end of term swimming gala doing the butterfly.

Faith indeed!

She got down to basics, teaching me the fundamental theory behind the stroke. The entire centre of gravity should be focused on the hips, and the body should be close to the surface of the water as possible.

This was a revelation to me - hitherto I had been keeping my body too deep in the water which gave the impression of drowning rather than swimming when I came up for air.

Sgt. Gunther Rodriguez Osorio, swimming butterfly in the pool
Mastering Butterfly
Breathing should be done on every second stroke, as trying to breathe on every stroke could lead to dizziness and hyperventilation.

The arm movement is the key to the perfect butterfly stroke - arms should be bent slightly and the thumbs should enter the water first.

The arm movement makes a keyhole shape with arms entering the water in front of the shoulder and being drawn back towards the thighs.

Once the arms are level with the thighs they are drawn out of the water straight to their starting position.

The kick should be gentle and co-ordinated with the arms entering and leaving the water.

At first, that was quite a lot to take in, and as I am one of the least co-ordinated people in the whole world I struggled to bring the whole thing together. However, fairly soon the movements started to feel natural and I began to develop the necessary strength and stamina to be able to perform the stroke with ease.

After a while, I really began to enjoy the almost dolphin-like movement through the water and the butterfly stroke remains my favourite swimming stroke to this day.

As for the gala - I aced it!

written by: newmedia


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