View Full Version : Transforming my caterpillar to butterfly: your trade secrets here...

October 20th, 2007, 08:39 PM
Hi all,

One of the sets in practice today was 400 IM. And, no, the coach wouldn't let me change it to 4x100IM, but I guess the upside of that was that once the fly was done, it was DONE. But in my case, once it was done, I felt done for.

As you can tell from the title of this thread, just let's say I don't make it look pretty. :rolleyes:

But I realize it would be nice to at least do something that didn't make the coach want to shield his eyes. In a lot of IM sets I wimp out and just substitute free for butterfly, with the idea that it might be nice to finish practice the same day I started it... oh and be kind to the coach's sensibilities lol... But all the same, I think to myself, other human beings have done this stroke. It must be possible, if not easy.

Actually, the coach didn't really shield his eyes, and did give me some "remedial butterfly" lessons after the practice. This, I will say, showed courage, as he had to look at me doing my not so pretty version.

One thing he said was to push chest down, then hips down... and told me to try it a few times just with the body movement before taking any pull, then three times before taking a pull. I guess I had a little semblance of the movement, but I didn't feel at all as if I was going to master it any time this millenium.

Sooooo.... flyers.... HOW DO YOU DO IT? Have you any tips for the butterfly-challenged? I don't want to keep wimping out w/ free during the butterfly portion of IM sets. (Not that my other strokes look that great but at least they give me some remote hope of moving forward rather than :drown: ing.)

Thanks much, folk!

October 20th, 2007, 08:49 PM
As anyone who has seen my fly can attest, I ain't no fly boy. People here and elsewhere have said that doing bad fly doesn't help. One thing that I've tried is to limit myself to those few good strokes at the start of each 25. That's typically these days no more than five or six strokes (at most) after my pullout. So if I have some fly to do I will do fly until I can feel it is going to fall apart, then finish that length free. Lather, rinse, repeat.


October 20th, 2007, 08:53 PM
Rather than do free instead of butterfly, try doing a 1 arm fly to learn to get the motion.

A drill I like is 3 right arm, 3 left arm, 3 full stroke, this way you work on your dolphin motion (also loosens up a tight back in my case) without getting too tired.

October 21st, 2007, 08:58 AM
Thanks for the replies!

Donna, I was once at a point where I could get to 50 yards doing fly--the coach would have us do exactly the drills you're describing... He's moved on to other things (too many other time commitments to coach masters) so I kind of got away from those drills. Should get back to them again. I'm always a little self-conscious doing fly or fly drills on my own, but I guess I should just take the chance and if ppl laugh, so what! (Most probably don't even pay attention, and there are so many weird swimming patterns when I work out during open lap swimming that I doubt I'd stand out anyway....)

Also what about instructional videos online--even some good u-tube videos? Recommendations welcome!

Fly will probably never be my favorite stroke, just would be great to make it through the IM sets during masters practice. Who knows, maybe I'll even try an IM in a meet. I actually did once in a Senior Games meet... Emphatically LAST place, but I felt proud to have had the courage to try it anyway.

October 21st, 2007, 11:28 AM
The drill that Donna mentioned is a good one. If you have access to a LCM pool, I like the following. It's not as good in a SC pool because you don't have as much room to get into the rhythm, but you could still give it a try.

50 of 1 right, 1 left, 1 both
50 of 2 right, 2 left, 2 both
all the way up to 6 right, 6 left, 6 both
and then work your way back down.

We used to do this twice for 24 50s. That's probably more fly than you want to do (you could just do 6 of them to get the idea), but it will help you get into the rhythm. Fly, to me, is all about your hips. You want your hips and butt to come up while your chest/shoulders press down. When I swam fly in college, I used to have a coach who yelled "HIPS" at me in the middle of a race. :o It was embarrassing, but effective. I swam the 100 fly at Olympic Trials in 88 and 92.

October 21st, 2007, 12:35 PM
Another drill that works well but takes alot of time is chest pulsing, where you press with your chest to make the dolphin motion. This might be better to do on your own rather than in a group since it takes some time to do.

When you get alittle stronger on the fly I would recommend trying to use small flat paddles to help you get your rythm down.

Good Luck,

October 21st, 2007, 04:41 PM
Leading with your chest, I don't know how else to describe it, is key. Press FORWARD with your body, not up and down.

One thing people have a tough time with is the breathing and timing of the breath. I really can't think of a good drill to correct this. I guess one thing to feel when you breathe, is pushing forward, NOT UP, with your chin. I know most of us are guilty of this. When we get tired we turn into what I describe as Godzilla and try to life our heads way up to get our breath out of fear of choking on water. You won't....just push forward with your chin each time. As with any stroke, your head should stay in line with your spine as much as you can and not break the neutral position. If you're pressing forward with your chest when you swim and pressing forward with your chin when you breathe, you'll feel a HUGE difference. You will come just over the surface of the water for your breath with takes a whole lot LESS energy than trying to lift your chest and head up and over the water. Maybe watch some Olympians swimming fly from the side view. You will see them push forward this way.

I hope this makes sense!

Godzilla butterfly

Good head position (and video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFuL-cskQn4&mode=related&search=Swimming%20butterfly%20style%20nadar%20nata cion%20practica%20entrenar%20suit%20mariposa%20wat er

October 21st, 2007, 05:02 PM
If we want to swim fast fly.

We do it one length at a time. Swim as fast as you can one armstroke two kicks. If you get too technical you will confuse yourself.

Concentrate on the arms the kick will come natural. Let the head motion control your dolphin kick. If you swim slow mechnical fly you will always be a slow mechanical flyer.

October 21st, 2007, 06:33 PM
Again, thanks for the tips and videos! Whoa, distinguished company here too! George, of course, with his Olympic experience, and Susan in the OT's. Thanks for taking time to help this newbie! Altho I doubt the Olympics will be in my future (except for the Senior Olympics), I figure at least I'll spare people's sensibilities somewhat if I can get myself into something more closely resembling butterfly. Just contacted someone my former masters' coach recommended (he can't do individual sessions now)... Wanted to have someone critique mainly my freestyle, but also look at the other strokes, including fly, so I can build a bit more speed and confidence.

I'm coming to swimming from a running background, and I'm a really late starter (didn't compete on a team as a kid), but swimming is a great sport--giving me more competition choices--if I get a running injury, I can always find o.w. swims and meets... if I run into swimming injuries or can't find too many swim events, hey, I've got the running! All good!