The Butterfly Stroke: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Michael Butler
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History of the Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke was first introduced by foreign swimmers around the late 1920s. The stroke was developed by the Japanese swimmers Kohei Kajita and Shosuke Sasaki.

In the 1930s, the stroke was modified by swimming coach David Armbruster. The latter came up with the flutter kick that was used in the butterfly stroke until the Fédérale Alépa change in 1933. Armbruster also developed a freestyle kick as part of his continuous movement training method that became popular with many swimmers.

When the butterfly stroke became popular in international competitions, it continues to be controversial. There were many debates on whether or not the butterfly stroke was suitable to be used in competitions based on its effect on the body and its distinctive characteristics.

In the 1956 Olympics, the butterfly was dropped from the competition to be re-introduced in the 1964 Olympics.

Fun Facts About the Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke was created by Hiroto K SPECIAL-LEAGUE KAJIMOTO in the 1950s. Kajimoto was looking for a way to swim faster so he came up with a new technique that combined the breaststroke, backstroke, and front crawl.

There aren’t many differences between the butterfly stroke and the front crawl, but swimmers doing the butterfly stroke generally point their index finger out of the water at a 90-degree angle. This is because the butterfly stroke is an arm-dominant stroke.

According to Michael Phelps, the great swimmer from the United States, the butterfly stroke provides the greatest feeling of freedom in the water.

While doing the butterfly stroke, swimmers look down at the bottom of the pool. This is because the water turbulence created by your arms causes loss of vision.

Before going underwater, it’s easier to do the butterfly stroke if you’re diving at a negative angle – usually because it’s a shallower dive. This is also the best position to be in for a faster butterfly stroke.

Is the butterfly faster than swimming freestyle?

One of the fundamental swimming techniques is the butterfly stroke. This stroke will give you improved leg strength that you can utilize in your freestyle.

Swimming the butterfly stroke is more energy intensive than swimming freestyle, so you may choose to use the technique only when you need to increase your speed. If you’re preparing for an event where speed is a critical aspect of winning, try adding the butterfly stroke to your training regimen.

It does take a lot of energy to swim butterfly as compared to freestyle. This is because you have to maintain a high velocity while rotating your arms above your head and pumping your legs in an alternating motion. The high number of rapid arm and leg movements that you perform per second dramatically increases your caloric expenditure and requires you to exert more energy than what freestyle offers.

Swimming the butterfly stroke requires a large number of rapid arm movements per second. At the elite level, top swimmers often rotate their arms at around 1,000 times per minute.

The butterfly stroke includes two phases: the power phase and the recovery phase. When you perform the stroke, you move your arms in a big arc over your head and then under you. As the catch phase starts, the continuous switching of momentum as you pull your arms out of the water makes this stroke quite energy intensive.

Elements of a Fast Butterfly:

What Does it Take to Swim the Butterfly Stroke Fast?

If you’re a competitive swimmer or you’re just looking to improve your swimming technique, you’ve probably heard of the butterfly (or fly) stroke. It takes a lot of practice just to get the feel for it. And then you have to practice a lot more to get efficient at it.

Intense practice will definitely improve your butterfly stroke technique. But there are some fundamental elements of speed swimming that you can integrate to make a big change in time.

The first element is the efficient dolphin kick. It’s critical to good butterfly swimming because it adds velocity and helps preserve your energy as you move from the breathing stroke to the dolphin kick.

The second is the underwater section of the butterfly swim. The underwater time is an undistributed amount of time. As you swim faster, you can hold your breath longer and perform more strokes.

Finally, after you hit the wall and start the breathing phase, it’s crucial to get a good start on the recovery breathe. Fast recovery breathing helps you catch a good underwater dolphin kick position and get the best possible body alignment for the next stroke.

Resources: The Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly’s unique style looks complicated and it seems like something you’re either born with or you’re not. But in reality, the butterfly is fairly straightforward and simple to learn. Those that can’t use this classic stroke have a lot of trouble reaching their potential as swimmers because they put themselves at a major competitive disadvantage.

The butterfly is relatively easy to learn, but there’s a fairly steep hill in the learning curve. For high level swimmers, the butterfly is an important component of butterfly stroke technique. At the beginner level, it’s a key element in the stroke development process, without which it’s difficult to learn other skills. For example, the breaststroke helps you to learn the correct head position to use in the butterfly. As such, the butterfly doesn’t have to be your first stroke, but that should be your goal as your swimming improves.