Stroke Tips & Drills ~ 3

The Stroke

Like a snappy flip turn, a well-done butterfly stroke is something that will turn heads at your pool. It’s the perfect blend of power and grace, the sign of a confident – and highly fit – swimmer. Unlike the alternating motion of the freestyle or backstroke, butterfly requires both arms to move simultaneously overhead, which requires great stamina and flexibility.
A butterflier’s classic double-arm recovery motion is set up by the kick, however, not the arms. The kick, sometimes called the “dolphin kick,” is what gets your body into a high, comfortable position in the water so you can propel yourself down the pool without causing immediate fatigue.
As with the other swim strokes, the butterfly follows the standard catch-pull-recovery sequence. Now that you’re bit more familiar with it, we’ll take a closer look at body position, arm motion, leg and hip motion, breathing, and then some tips on putting it all together.
Body Position
As with the breaststroke, you do the butterfly in a streamlined prone position with your arms and legs extended at the beginning of your stroke cycle. Your head should be forward with the water at eyebrow level. Your hips and shoulders should be high above the water and parallel to its surface.
Arm Motion
Your arms should move in tandem, with each one sculling underwater in an S-shaped pattern. As with other swim strokes, you’ll want to keep your elbows higher than your hands for maximum leverage. But since your body doesn’t rotate as in freestyle or backstroke, your under water pull in the butterfly is shallower, and your overwater recovery is wider and lower.
The butterfly arm motion can be broken into four stages: the catch, the pull (phase 1 and phase 2), and the recovery.
The catch
Your hands should enter the water together, shoulder-width apart. Your elbows should be up and your thumbs should be down, as in freestyle. Slide your hands forward, then outward and downward at a 30- to 45-degree angle from the water’s surface. Position your hands about four to eight inches below the water’s surface to get a good hold on the water. Because of the timing of your kick, you’ll only have a brief window of opportunity to execute your catch.
The Pull: Phase1
Move both arms simultaneously in an out-down-back motion, bending your elbows slightly and rotating your arms from the shoulders. At the end of Phase 1, your forearms should be vertical, and your palms should face back toward your feet, no wider than shoulder-width apart.
The Pull: Phase2
Now you’re ready for the acceleration, or power, phase of your pull. Bring your hands together under your stomach so your elbows bend at a 90-degree angle. Then force your hands outward and back toward your feet. Continue forcing water behind you until your arms are almost fully extended and your hands are at a point just past your hips. Since this is where your shoulders begin to emerge from the water, it’s an ideal time to breathe.
The Recovery
As your hands emerge from the water, swing them around to your sides and then in front of you. Your elbows should be higher than your hands and your fingers should just be skimming the water’s surface. When you start your recovery, your hands should trail behind and your elbows should lead your arm swing. Halfway through your recovery, your hands should take over the lead as your forearms extend in front of you just prior to your catch. During the initial phase of your recovery, your arms should be relaxed, but they should move quickly, using the power generated by your upper back and shoulders in acceleration phase of the pull.
Leg and Hip Motion
The kick accounts for at least on-third of your power in the butterfly stroke, so it must be carefully coordinated with your arm motion, breathing and body motion.
The dolphin kick – a wavelike two-beat kick in which your legs move up and down in tandem – is designed to push still columns of water behind you quickly and forcefully. During the downbeat, thrust your hips upward so your buttocks can break the water’s surface. During the upbeat of the kick, thrust your hips downward. This is what will give you the powerful, undulating motion that gets your entire body into the stroke, not just your limbs.
KIP:Keeping your feet point on the downbeat of your kick will help you direct water backward, not downward, and will help you sustain the undulation that began in your hips.

Butterfly Breathing
Head Position
Keep your face shallow in the water at all times. Novices usually push their heads down in an effort to raise their hips and legs. This reduces their ability to generate power by pushing their shoulders down, and it forces them to rise back up in order to breathe. The resulting up-and-down motion impedes forward movement. Instead, the hips should be raised to transfer weight to the chest area.
TIP: to integrate breathing into your butterfly motion, inhale at the completion of your arm stroke, so your mouth clears the water as your arms recover. To put the whole stroke together, swim in the following sequence: catch-and-kick, pull-and-kick, inhale-and-recover, catch-and-kick, pull-and-kick, inhale-and-recover.

Since most of us swim in pools, we are forced to reverse direction every 15, 20 or 25 strokes. It makes sense to find a fast, energy-saving way to turn our bodies around so we can keep our workout flow intact.
There are essentially two types of turns: the open turn, used in all four swim strokes, and the flip turn, used in freestyle and backstroke, especially when speed is important. Fitness swimmers should learn the open turn before attempting flip turns. Due to space limitations, we’ll limit our discussion to freestyle turns only.
The Open Turn
The open turn is the easiest turn to learn and allows you ample time to catch your breath. There are two things to remember when doing open turns. First, keep your body as low in the water as possible during inhalation. Second, the hand you use to reach for the wall should always be opposite the side of your body that’s going to initiate your turn.
The Approach
Approach the wall with your eyes open and your face just under the water’s surface. Try to maintain your normal stroke as you arrive at the wall with your lead arm extended in the catch position. (Refer to ???? style section earlier in this chapter if you’ve forgotten the catch position) take your last stroke about on body length away from the wall and roll onto your side as you reach for the wall with your bottom arm. Use your bottom arm rather than your top arm, since it will help you to cut through the water more cleanly and get more reach.
TIP Try not to shorten your stroke or glide too much as you approach the wall. Keep kicking, rather than stroking, if you’re worried about not having enough momentum to reach the wall.(圖24)

The Pivot
To begin the turn, grab the pool edge (or gutter) with your extended hand. As your hand reaches the wall, flex your elbow, bring your hand and body close to the wall, allow your opposite shoulder to drop, and rotate 180degrees so you’re facing the opposite direction to which you came in. As you rotate, bend your knees and swing your feet and hips under your body. Lift your hips just enough to inhale quickly as your weight shifts.
TIP Keep your head and shoulders tight to the waterline during your pivot.

The Plant
As your feet touch the wall, let go with your hand and swing it over your shoulder and drop it about one foot beneath the water’s surface to join your other arm (which should remain extended away ??? the wall throughout the turn).(圖25)
The Push-Off
Be on your toes, rather than flat-footed, and drop your push-off hand behind your head to join your other hand. Allow your torso to drop one to two feet underwater as you go into your best streamlined position (elbows locked, arms fully extended overhead). Remain in the side-lying position for the first few yards of the push-off and drive your legs hard, but in a compact manner.
The Glide
Don’t resume stroking immediately after your turn. Instead, let your momentum carry you as far as possible. When your momentum subsides, start to flutter kick. Wait until you start to surface before ???? first stroke. Pull with the bottom arm. (the arm opposite your breathing side). Only after you’ve completed the pull on your breathing side should you take your first breath. This skill will come in handy when you’re ready to tackle flip turns.

Flip Turns
A flip turn (or racing turn) is the fastest and most powerful way to change direction when doing the freestyle or backstroke. Because backstroke flip turns are done almost exclusively by competitive swimmers, we’ll limit our discussion to freestyle flip turns, of which there are two types: conventional (i.e., twisting) and flat.

The Conventional Flip Turn
The Approach
When your leading arm is two to four feet from the wall, tuck your chin to your chest and take your last stroke. Your lead arm and your trailing arm should both be at your sides when you begin your somersault. For extra speed going into the wall, you may want to do a little dolphin kick here. (For more on the dolphin kick, see the butterfly section earlier in this chapter.)
Deciding when to initiate the somersault is crucial. Be conservative when judging your distance from the wall. It’s better to give yourself too much room to execute the turn than too little. “balling up” when you somersault too close to the wall will cause your feet (圖25) to hit too high. The result? You’ll torpedo straight to the pool floor when you push off, instead of gliding smoothly along the water’s surface. This is one of the most common errors novice swimmers make when learning flip turns. It not only wastes energy as you claw your way back to the surface, but it costs you valuable time and oxygen.
There’s a simple way to determine how far from the wall you should begin your somersault: the point at which your knees can be fully flexed and coiled for maximum push-off when they hit the wall. It just takes practice to get a feel for this. (See Flip Turn Drill: Progressive Approaches, page 27.)
As your speed improves, you can begin your turn farther and farther from the wall, because your momentum will carry you in. The farther from the wall you can flip, the better. Every inch you don’t have to swim toward the wall is another inch you don’t have to swim back the other way.
TIP: Make sure you take a big bite of air as you take your last stroke before beginning the actual flip. You won’t be able to take another breath until you surface.

The Flip
To begin the somersault, scoop water away from your hips (and toward your face) with the arm opposite the side to which you are going to turn. (If you read the section on open turns, this should sound familiar.) to get your hips and legs out of the water, bend your torso forward and push water toward your abdomen with your leading arm. Then tuck your chin to your chest and bend your knees as your heels, feet and knees emerge from the water. (圖27)
The Pivot
As you snap your feet over your head for the somersault, twist your trunk to one side. After completing the flip, start to straighten out of your tuck, plant your feet on the wall – about shoulder-width apart – and begin to extend both arms in front of you.
The Push-off
Continue to twist and extend your body during the glide so you finish face down in a fully prone position. Recover to the surface (as in open turns) by lifting your head and arching your back to streamline your body before beginning to flutter kick.
If you find yourself too low in the water and gasping for breath after your turn, it means you’re probably starting your somersault too close to the wall. If you feel like you are not getting as far off the wall as you should, you’re probably somersaulting too far from the wall and losing power. Try initiating your flip closer to the wall. Don’t worry about hitting your head or banging your heels. (圖28)(圖29)
TIP: To prevent yourself from “balling up,” keep your eyes open as you somersault and focus on your knees, rather than your stomach or chest. This will give you better extension and rotation on the turn and reduce the strain on your stomach and lower back muscles.
Flip-Turn Drill: Progressive Approaches
Practice your approach in the shallow end of the pool. Start about 10 feet from the wall, take a stroke or two, dolphin kick as you go into your somersault and then push off forcefully from the wall. The more you can bend your knees when you make your plant on the wall, the more power you’ll have for the push-off. Landing on your toes, rather than flat-footed, will also give you more power.
Make a mental note of how far you can go before losing your momentum. Can you make it to the red flags overhead? When you come to a stop, repeat the drill and compare your distance after the push-off. After doing five successful turns in a row, move out to 15feet from the wall. When you’ve done five consecutive good turns at 15 feet, move out to 20 feet, then 25 feet, until you’re comfortable initiating your turn after swimming a full length of the pool. The progressive approach drill allows you to practice a great number of flip turns in a short period of time, and it can be a great cardiovascular workout, too.
TIP To prevent water from rushing up your nose when you flip, take a large breath before initiating your turn and exhale through your nose and mouth as you somersault..

The Flat Flip Turn
In the conventional flip turn discussed above, you somersault and twist simultaneously. In the flat flip turn, you somersault without twisting, pushing off the wall with your back, not your stomach, facing the pool floor. Stay deep under the water as you glide in a ??? extended streamlined position, occasionally twisting your trunk from side to side in a corkscrew-like motion. The corkscrew motion helps you cut through turbulent water and maintain your momentum.
While not as widely practiced as the conventional flip turn, the flat flip has several advantages. First, the deep, flat push-off slips you under, rather than into, the wall of turbulent water the follows you down the pool. Secondly, you can flip faster when you don’t have to twist your body simultaneously, and you can position your feet more easily for a good push-off. Finally, the flat flip is a lot gentler on your lower back, since you don’t have to twist as you somersault.

Open-Water Swimming
For the first timer, open-water swimming can be a scary experience. You must breathe, navigate and maintain stroke proficiency in an unfamiliar, murky environment that lacks lane lines, walls and solid footing underneath. The key to developing confidence in open water is to adapt your newfound pool skills to your non-pool swimming environment.
Open-Water Technique Drill
Lying on your stomach without taking any strokes, kick with fins on, keeping your hands at your sides. Arch your back enough to get your chin out of the water to breathe. Try to propel yourself in a straight line down the pool without taking an arm stroke. You’ll have to accentuate the arching motion to perform this drill without tiring your neck muscles. You can do this drill in the swimming pool or in open water.
Getting Started
Start your open-water experience by swimming along familiar stretch of shoreline, or aim for a nearby boat, buoy or other fixed landmark. Build up gradually. As you gain confidence in open water, you’ll be able to match, if not exceed, the distance you would normally swim in the pool. Caution: Never swim alone in open water. Let the lifeguards know what you’re doing before you plunge in. if there is no lifeguard on duty have at least one companion on hand to watch you at all times.
Before You Enter Water
You have to start warm to stay warm. Just as when swimming in a pool, you must warm up thoroughly before plunging into the open surf. Jogging, stretching and doing jumping jacks will get your heart pumping and your blood moving before you begin swimming. (See also the discussion of wetsuits beginning on page 56.)
Adjusting Your Stroke
Use a higher arm-recovery motion than you would in a pool. On a rough day, it’s not uncommon to do a lot of “air stroking,” in which you extend your arm for the catch and find there’s no water to catch because you’re at the crest of a wave. Learn to expect breaks in your rhythm and take them in stride.
Adjusting Your kick
Since salt water is more buoyant than pool water, you don’t need to kick as hard. A two-beat kick (two kicks for every arm pull) is fine.
Pick fixed landmarks like buildings, trees or hills to navigate. Lift your eyes every few strokes and constantly adjust your direction. Remember to keep kicking when you lift your head to sight landmarks or buoys. Otherwise you’ll lose your momentum each time you check your direction and waste lots of energy trying to get back up to speed.
If you encounter riptides (narrow channels of water that move outward from shore), let them carry you. Don’t try to fight them. Dive under, not over, breaking waves, and come up swimming after they pass so you can maintain your momentum.
Dealing with the Elements
One of the early symptoms of hypothermia is loss of judgement; by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s often too late. Always swim with a partner or group. If anything seems not quite right, or if you cannot feel your hands or feet, get out of the water immediately.
How Cold Is Too Cold?
The fitness Swimmer advisory council recommends that even the strongest swimmers use extreme caution when swimming in sub60 water, especially if they plan to swim for more than 30 minutes. The council also recommends that you wear a neoprene wetsuit and at least one swim cap for insulation whenever you’re in water below 65 – experts say 30 percent of your body’s heat is lost through your head.