An efficient stroke will significantly reduce wasted energy output through less drag in the water and a cleaner execution of hand and arm entry and recovery. When considering swimming technique for any stroke, analysis should follow the format described below, in this order:
The leg kick will control the body position in the water, while the arm cycle will provide the propulsive force. The timing between the two is vital to the efficiency of the given stroke in order to provide a greater speed through the water with minimum wasted energy.
Finally, breathing technique should be analysed to ensure that when you breathe your overall technique is not disrupted in any way that would cause a breakdown in efficiency.
This is a stroke where timing of the kick and the arm cycle are paramount. An inadequate butterfly technique can waste a huge amount of energy because of the double arm movement on recovery and propulsion, and the double leg kick. Practice makes permanent and the more efficient you can make this stroke the more power you will be able to generate where it is needed.
The arm cycle
Both arms break the water simultaneously, hand and forearms first, the arms swing outwards, elbows slightly flexed as they both continue to swing round and meet forward of the head, thumb and fingers first.
Entry & Catch
Fingers first, the hands cup and catch the water simultaneously in preparation for the out sweep (the big kick finishes).
Together, the arms press laterally, and the arms begin to flex at the elbow (the small kick starts).
As the arms continue to flex, the hands turn medially and press towards the body (in small kick finishes).
As the hands come close to the body, they then press towards the feet, fully extending the arms at the elbow in preparation for the quick "flick" out of the water and to recovery (the big kick starts).
The information on this page is adapted from Coulson (2000) with the kind permission of Electric Word plc.
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