View Full Version : Fly question

July 5th, 2006, 11:15 AM
I recently had a disagreement with another swimmer about proper fly technique. After the recovery, where do the hands enter the water? I was taught they should enter the water a little wider than your shoulders, but he insisted that they should enter the water closer together, more like 6 inches apart. Which is correct? Does it make a difference whether you're swimming sprint fly or distance fly?

jim clemmons
July 5th, 2006, 01:52 PM
Mainly makes a difference how flexible you are or aren't.

6" apart are basically just a little closer than "a little wider than your shoulders".

There is not much difference in the two.

July 5th, 2006, 05:22 PM
I try about 6 inches. I think wha ti simportant about the hands is where they are pointed. I was told ot point them straight abead. Iknow people who point the tips out ready to grab. I don't know which is best?

July 5th, 2006, 07:19 PM
My daughters private coach teaches shoulder width apart, using the shoulders to rotate the arms over so that entry is ready to skull out with palms out somewhat. Does that even make sense? no wonder I don't coach, geez. I know how to show it, can't describe it, and every once in a while I can even do it right and feel it!

Matt S
July 5th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Let me offer you some secret advice to learning to fly...


If you are thinking first about what your arms are doing, you are missing the major point. You swim fly mostly with your body, not your arms. Learn an effective udulation technique first; this is often called a body dolphin. (To learn more, go to www.h2oustonswims.org; click on "Articles"; find the piece "Slip Slid'n Away")

July 6th, 2006, 06:32 AM
Good point. What I did not say is the weeks her private coach spent on her kick and body movement before he even allowed arms!

July 6th, 2006, 09:53 AM
I'm comfortable with the body dolphin, that's not a major issue at this point. I can do a solid 50 fly (about 33 seconds for 50 yds) and a pretty good 100 fly (not timed, probably about 1:20). I figured out a few months ago that I can do fly much longer without much loss of speed if I focus on kicking/undulating hard and relaxing my arms. I just wanted to know whether the extra energy required to move my arms the extra 12 inches or so in the front is actually worth it.

July 6th, 2006, 10:08 AM
I left my tape measure at home.

July 6th, 2006, 12:08 PM
I believe it is much more important what your hands do right after they enter the water than exactly where they enter. If the hands enter close together, then immediately go outward - they are not contributing to propulsion. I think the shoulder width hand entry is less likely to create wasted motion during the first phase of the outsweep.

I don't have it in front of me - but I believe Maglisho's book recommends a shoulder width hand entry.

July 6th, 2006, 12:38 PM
Yes, that is what her coach said as well. He did not want wasted moments, that the outsweep happens immediately, and he had her walking the pool to understand that timing.

July 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
Mine start at 6 and end up at 60 inches.........................over 200m

July 6th, 2006, 03:00 PM
Originally posted by hofffam
If the hands enter close together, then immediately go outward - they are not contributing to propulsion. I think the shoulder width hand entry is less likely to create wasted motion during the first phase of the outsweep.
Since when does propulsion start when the hand enters the water, never did never will, propulsion starts at the catch.

Addition just watched the video of Phelps his hands enter slightly wider then his shoulders...

July 8th, 2006, 10:46 PM
It's starting to matter since I'm getting pretty good and the body dolphin is now as familiar and ingrained as riding a bike.

The one area that I most experiment with is the underwater positioning and stroke of my hands and arms - and how to get the most for the least. Since the fly is especially tiring, it seems imperative to find the best (and perhaps most economical) underwater motion. This is the first year that I am comfortable with and getting real command of the fly. I haven't watched any video yet this year, so I guess I'm overdue.

Reading this thread just gave me a crazy idea. The hands enter the water softfly with the palms out and down. The trick is to quickly rotate the arms and get the hands in position to pull. Having a narrow entry doesn't help. My crazy idea is to try having the hands enter the water with the palms in (instead of out) and down. This would reduce or eliminate the necessary rotation and should start the pull a little sooner.

Ok. Obviously since nobody is doing it, it's a bad idea. But why? (Looks? which is one reason why the fly is so great.) I guess I should have tried it first, then I'd know?

July 9th, 2006, 12:06 PM
Total Immersion teaches the arms slightly wider than the shoulders.

I think the most important thing in the fly is to keep a streamlined body dolphin, not letting the hips sink etc. - no butterstruggle as Terri likes to call it....

All I know is I followed what TI taught me and I brought down my 50 SCY fly from 37 sec last year to my final time at SCY NATS this year:

9 Jennifer Kyff 32 METR 30.92 30.87

I actually wasn't even hitting the SCY NAT quailfing time at home. The first step was learning proper technique and then butterfly drills and full butterfly stroke in practice.

25 fly
50 fly
100 fly
50 fly
25 fly

sets of 50's etc....

July 9th, 2006, 12:07 PM
My hands actually enter thumbs down....

Don't know what that does......

July 9th, 2006, 01:41 PM
Right now I am lucky to clear the water at all but when they do get there thumbs and little fingers hit the water at the same time. But you have to remember my fly style comes from the 50s and by best life time 100m lc fly was one minute in the early 60s.

July 9th, 2006, 01:54 PM
Oh I wish my fly 100 time was 1:00.......

I feel like all my internal organs are coming out when I finish in 1:14.00

July 9th, 2006, 05:55 PM
Isn't entering thumbs down awfully hard on your shoulders?

July 9th, 2006, 05:59 PM
It's not like I force them in that way. I'm very loose jointed. When I go to the orthopedist she can practically pull my arm out of the socket.....

I'll play around with it.....

July 9th, 2006, 06:12 PM
I was looking for pictures of the hand entry, but could not find any. Found this:


July 9th, 2006, 06:15 PM
And this description:

The put in takes place on shoulder width. Just like the freestyle the arms are put in on of their total length, at which the little finger is pointed upwards. The touching of the water surface is passive, but the start of a specific bearing is an active process. The elbows are high positioned

From here:

July 9th, 2006, 06:17 PM
Also got butterfly fishes:

July 9th, 2006, 06:19 PM
Just watched Phelps again thumb and little finger enter water almost at the same time.

July 9th, 2006, 06:35 PM
Great articles, dorothy! Looks like it's not something the experts completely agree on, so I'll try playing with it, both placement and angle, and see what happens.

July 9th, 2006, 08:03 PM
I was trying to find a still picture of Phelp's hand entry cause I thought he did not do the hand entry like the articles describe, but his stills are usually showing the width of his stroke(which is incredible) or his hands back. The most common way I see it taught by coaches is like the articles show. Perhaps once you get the common technique down, you can play around with that entry, and it also makes me wonder how much difference your strength makes in the way you enter the water, and flexibility as discussed.

July 9th, 2006, 11:15 PM
All fly here http://www.swim.ee/videos/fly/fly.html

July 10th, 2006, 07:13 AM
Looks like Mary uses her hands like the above article describes.

Inga has a straighter hand entry. I am having trouble getting Crocker's to play.

Got it, Crocker is thumbs down, pink up and very wide entry, but then, he has very wide shoulders, but I think he is wider than his shoulders. I know my son always liked going a bit wider.

July 10th, 2006, 09:27 AM
We should not watch only Champions to determine swimming styles. Here is a video of a guy with one leg flying and doing all strokes. He is happy with his fly and I enjoy watching him fly http://www.amputee.ca/swimvideo.htm here is a nice one of Phelps underwater http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlgHpvqbb-Y&mode=related&search=Phelps More swim videos http://www.online1966.com/all.asp

July 10th, 2006, 09:34 PM
The late Joe Kurtzman, world champion and world record holder, explained to me that the twisting of the arms during the recovery of the butterfly not only caused the minimal rise of the body from the water to breath, but also caused the thumb first entry, which you all know by now, eliminates the dreaded dropped elbow during the stroke.

July 10th, 2006, 11:29 PM
I was dumb (or whatever) enough to try swimming the fly with recovered hands landing palms face in (and down) instead of out and down. I did not do it enough times to be sure of anything but these were my impressions: The hands enter the water much smoother with palms out. However, with palms landing in you can pull quicker and with no hand and arm rotation but the earlier pulling seems to involve pushing down too much so any benefit is lost by extra drag. With palms landing out, the hand (and arm) rotation (during the short sweep) generates the least drag while getting into position to pull (which is conveniently the "glide" point). What I can't guess on is whether there is any benefit to the hands and arms doing the circle thing (like the breaststroke pizza shaping hand movement) before the hands go straight to the belly - other than it's just a necessary motion and result of the hands entering palms out.

I could be wrong about all of this but I don't plan on any further investigation as my curiosity is done.