Archives for posts with tag: Butterfly stroke

It will be the Christmas Swim this Saturday and as I mentioned last week there will be a 1K Fly challenge for those that want to try it.  Most people did 450m Fly in the session two weeks ago and 750m Fly in the session last week so 1K of Fly should be achievable for many of us if you do Fly drills where necessary.  We will be breaking it up with plenty of 100s front crawl, as well as a couple of Brucey-bonus extra rests, so the key to achieving this challenge will be to pace yourself and drop back to doing a much easier Fly drill – such as single-arm – when you need to.

Of course, like all our sets, it is optional whether or not you do the Fly at all and if you really can’t, or don’t want to, you can always do back stroke or breast stroke instead when I have put Fly in the set.  I won’t be offended!  Please just make sure that what you end up swimming fits in with your fellow lane swimmers so you don’t disrupt the lane.

The Christmas Swim this year should be a personal challenge and I suggest you aim to swim it at a level that is right for you.  Some of you could not swim Butterfly at all until a couple of weeks ago so doing even half of the session this week is an achievement you should be proud of.  However, if you want some ideas on a suitable “level” of challenge then I suggest the following as a guide:

  • Level 1 – you read this and decide you will give it a go.
  • Level 2 – you set your alarm 10 minutes earlier for Saturday to make sure you are on time.
  • Level 3 – you get up when your alarm goes off and make sure you are on the poolside 5 minutes before the session starts.
  • Level 4 – you start the session at a nice steady pace with the aim of getting as far as possible.
  • Level 5 – you swim at least half of the session.
  • Level 6 – you swim 75% of the session.
  • Level 7 – you swim all of the repetitions and miss only 100m of the distance.
  • Level 8 – you swim at least 50% of the Fly.
  • Level 9 – you swim 75% of the Fly.
  • Level 10 – you do the whole session swimming all the Fly.
  • Level 20 – you do both sessions!
  • Level 30 – you do both sessions with a hangover, wearing a t-shirt and baggy shorts, while singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” during the rest intervals…

See you Saturday!

We will do the Saturday Christmas Swim a week on Saturday (21st Dec) and last year we did a set of 30-45 x 100s depending on the lane.  This year I asked for suggestions in one of my weekly emails, a few weeks ago, but the only two suggestions I received have been to “play waterpolo” and “swim 1k Fly”.  Unfortunately, the pool won’t let us play waterpolo, because of the large windows, so 1k Butterfly it is then!  Although we can also practice waterpolo-style front crawl – which is just head-up front crawl – so I will throw some of that into the Christmas swim, too.

I actually think doing 1k Butterfly will be a great challenge – and great mental preparation for the hard times in a race when you know you will have done something most other triathletes would never dream of doing!  However, I don’t think any of us could manage it continuously doing full stroke all the way – myself very much included.  So, like any tough challenge, we will break it up into manageable chunks and will do lots of front crawl in between.  This has the benefit of allowing us to continue the theme from our sessions in the last couple of weeks of focusing on efficiency when swimming front crawl to make sure we have as much energy as possible to tackle the Fly.

This week we will do some more Butterfly technique alongside our usual aerobic front crawl set.  Please treat this as an opportunity of trying to be as relaxed and efficient as possible – even on the Butterfly.  Most of us will struggle to do 1k full stroke Fly so try and make sure you can drop back to a more manageable Fly drill that is less tiring – single-arm is a good candidate for this as is extra-kick Fly.  In fact, doing 4 or 5 long slow leg kicks per arm stroke should be much easier than full stroke Fly.  Last week we all did 550m of Fly during the session, this week we will do a bit more so that 1K of Fly next week will feel a lot more achievable.

See you all Saturday!


I want to continue the focus on efficiency this week by doing something slightly different – Butterfly!  The idea here is that we all find Butterfly the hardest stroke of all to do, and the most tiring.  Therefore, by putting some Butterfly into the middle of a long front-crawl set we will all need to focus on being as efficient and relaxed as possible when the swimming front crawl reps to make sure we have enough energy to do the Butterfly sections.

As before, try and keep the efficiency by relaxing and keeping your stroke count low.  Do this by making sure each underwater pull takes you as far as possible by pushing with your hands, and keeping your hands ahead of your elbows, just like you are swimming over a submerged barrel that you must push yourselves past.

To make the Butterfly sections easier please re-read the post I put on Butterfly technique for this a few weeks ago.  Also, we will do some more Butterfly technique before the main set to give you chance to practise and we will do some single-arm Fly drills and extra Fly kick (also called dive Fly) drills to make it easier.  These drills are very good for learning Fly, and also should be a lot less tiring, so if you can’t manage the full distances for Fly in the main set then please drop back to Fly drills.  See the following video for a demo of the Fly drills we will be doing:

See you Saturday!


We’ve been through all of the strokes now so we will put them back together and do some Medley swims as part of the sets this week alongside the usual aerobic front crawl.  Remember the key things on each of the strokes that we have been practising:

  • Keeping your head really still on backstroke with a good shoulder rotation
  • Keeping your elbows high on the breast stroke pull and having a good glide
  • Kicking twice on each Butterfly stroke and diving down with each hand entry

This is the last session before Impington closes for two weeks (4th to 16th November inclusive) to replace the air conditioning system so you will need to use the Monday night session at Frank Lea or public sessions to keep your swimming going.  I would recommend doing some slow front crawl swimming if you can get to a public session to really help you think about your technique.

When you do some slow front crawl I would strongly recommend

  • Breathing every 5 and remembering to keep your head flat and looking straight down at the bottom of the pool
  • Thinking about a strong catch with your whole hand and forearm
  • Keeping your stroke count at least two less than your normal stroke count, but achieving this by focusing on a stronger pull rather than cheating and kicking harder or adding any pauses into the stroke

For some front crawl inspiration you could try watching one of the greatest front crawl swimmers of all time – Alexander Popov:

When we get back to Saturday swimming on 23rd November we will be continuing to build on our aerobic swimming base.  This will be mostly front crawl but with some other strokes thrown in for variety and helping you work on being better all round swimmers.  We will then have about a month of training to get ready for the Christmas Swim.

Ideas are welcome for what everyone wants to do for the Christmas Swim this year.  The only suggestion I have had so far is 1,000m Fly, which sounds fun, so if there is anything else you would like to suggest I am very open to ideas!

See you all Saturday,


OK, so we’ve worked on backstroke and breast stroke so now is the time for everyone’s favourite – Butterfly.  Yes, this is the hardest stroke to learn and get right but like many challenges it can be incredibly satisfying when you learn to swim it well.  And swimming Butterfly comes with three key benefits, in my view:

  • It takes the most effort so is a great addition to a swim set to make it a tough workout
  • It really works your core muscles
  • It has a similar catch to front crawl – so is good for practising that strong, hand-lead catch with high elbows

Swimming good Butterfly starts with good timing and using that timing to get an undulating, dolphin-style stroke.  A good way to get the timing right is do single-arm Butterfly, which we will do, and make sure you do two kicks to every arm stroke.  The first kick is when your arm enters the water and the second kick (and bigger one) is at the end of the pull and helps you get your arms out of the water.  Practising this rhythm is really useful and the basis for good Butterfly.

Once we have the timing of the arms and legs together we will work on getting that nice undulating body position.  The best way to do this, in my view, is to think about diving down under the water as your arms enter the water, just as you would when diving in the pool.  Diving down, and throwing your head down quickly if you have just breathed, will bring your hips up (helped by your second leg kick) and make it much easier to get your arms out of the water.  Watch the following video for a really good example of both the two-beat kick as well as the effect of diving under on each stroke:

The alternating left-arm, right-arm, full-stroke drill you see in this video is something we will try out during the Saturday session so take careful note of how it should look.  However, in our version we will do 3 strokes each of left-arm, right-arm and full stroke to give you more time to think about it.

See you all Saturday!


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