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The butterfly style: everything you should know

Swimming is one of the most complete sports that exists and its high complexity is due to the convergence of different physical capacities used in order to advance on aquatic surfaces with lifeguard training. Within this demanding sport, the butterfly style stands out, perhaps one of the most complex.

In addition to the butterfly style, we also find the freestyle, chest, and back styles. Today, we will emphasize one of the styles that takes the longest to learn, at least for a large number of people.

History of the butterfly style

Around the 1920s, Erich “ Rade” Rademacher performed a breaststroke variant in which he did the stroke in the recovery phase-out of the water. The objective of this swimmer was to improve the times but the opposite happened; this hybrid style was not very successful and quickly disappeared.

A decade later, seeing what had happened with ” Rade “, many swimmers began to make variations with respect to the breaststroke. These changes revealed similarities with what is currently known as the butterfly style.

In the 1930s, David Armbruster, an American coach, introduced a new style of kick called “fishtail” that is performed with the feet together, the knees semi-bent and symmetrically.


Together with Jack Sieg, one of his athletes, Coach Armbruster managed to perfect the times showing that the style was suitable for a sport such as swimming. These times improved gradually, even reaching the world record but without being endorsed by official entities.

With the passage of time, many other swimmers were adopting the butterfly stroke, making very slight modifications to the technique in terms of kicking specifically. By the 50s and with the latent fear of the possible disappearance of the chest style, the different federations pressed to accept the butterfly style by separating it from the chest.

Therefore, the FINA (International Swimming Federation) before the Helsinki congress decided to make the butterfly stroke the fourth and most recent method to compete officially.

More about the butterfly style

Since then, the butterfly style has become the second-fastest, after the free crawl. This is thanks to his wave and symmetrical kick technique. Despite this, the friction generated by the stroke during the recovery slows down a few seconds.

It is considered the most difficult style due to the physical abilities it requires with lifeguard training. Learning the butterfly stroke involves having good coordination between the lower and upper extremities; Furthermore, without sufficient force, its execution would not be adequate.

In some parts of the world, the butterfly style is known as “dolphin” thanks to the shape that the body makes when executing the undulation. Even, in its beginnings, the swimmers called it “butterfly-dolphin”.

Execution of the butterfly style

This is the last to be taught due to the aforementioned complexity. On the other hand, the learner would already be familiar with the coordination, strength and other physical abilities necessary for this sport thanks to the three previous styles.

To perform the butterfly style it is necessary to take into account some phases and how each of them is composed.

Arms exit phase

The arm exit phase must be performed symmetrically at all times. The rotation of the shoulder will be as fast as possible placing the arms in front of the shoulders; once there, the push is made towards the legs.

Head start phase

Breathing in the butterfly style is done at the same time as the stroke with lifeguard training. However, the breathing gesture is not carried out in every stroke. This phase should be done gradually, keeping in mind that the chin is touching the chest at all times.

When the hands are at the height of the thighs. The head should be raised gradually along with the movement of the arms. When making the recovery, the head will come out to take air through a puff.

The butterfly style, the best of all

This style is considered as the queen test for swimmers; many claim that whoever masters it properly can be considered a true swimmer.

The truth is that the work it requires is quite arduous. We invite you to continue immersing yourself in the world of swimming and its styles.

Must Read: Muscle Strengthening for Freestyle Swimmers

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