Some people call it impossible, others call it never again. We call it butterfly. Why crawl when you can fly, right?

Butterfly is seen as the most difficult stroke of the four and mostly gets a bad wrap in swim sets all over the world. Compare the facial expressions of any swimmer when the coach tells their team that they are going to swim 8 x 200 fly – horror and shock, compared to 8 x200 free – is that all and how fast must we swim it? There is a world of difference in how swimmers experience butterfly.

Unlike breaststroke that requires brute strength and lots of technique, butterfly is more about the timing. It is a beautiful stroke. There are three key areas that we want you to focus on to make swimming the butterfly possible. 

The first area we want to bring to your attention is the undulation of the body. This is moving the body in a wave motion from front to back. This is achieved by pushing the chest down and pushing the butt up. It is a lot like hoola-hooping, but instead of side to side, it is up and down. 

Secondly, the timing of the hands and the kick are crucial to a rhythmic butterfly. Here the rule is to kick when your hands enter the water and when your hands exit the water. There are two kicks with every arm cycle. As the hands enter the water there is a kick and as the hands exit the water at the back, there is an kick. This timing gives great power and fluency to butterfly. 

Thirdly, and lastly, the head exits and enters the water before the hands do. The head needs be lifted up already before the hands exit the water and tight on the chin again before the hands enter the water. If you don’t do this, your head will get in the way of your recovery, severely hindering a good undulation and smooth butterfly. 

SwimGym likes to take you on the great butterfly odyssey, helping you to undulate, contemplate and ultimately relate to the king of all strokes.

I know we might not have to say this, but it is an important reminder, nevertheless. Swimming different stokes makes us better swimmers, stronger swimmers and helps us to swim freestyle with less injuries. So, embrace the challenge, undulate and may the butterfly be with you.  


You've seen them doing it in the pool or at the Olympics. It looks beautiful and effortless and makes your jaw drop. You dream about what it would be like to fly. You want to turn from that caterpillar into a fully-fledged butterflier. If you are rea... read on »