that was high school...a different type of training (one I am thankful I don't have to endure as much anymore). you won't catch me doing 12x200 LCM fly at all this summer!
Even if you never intend to swim (say) 200 fly in a meet, I think that doing fly in workouts gives you the most "bang for your buck" in terms of conditioning and building fitness in limited time. That's assuming your shoulders can handle it, of course.
And it IS a beautiful stroke; when it comes together, nothing beats it. (The opposite is also true, as most people know: when you die, nothing hurts quite so badly. "Reach for the sky," and all that.)
Doing fly/free is a great way to build endurance fly; I particularly like the set described earlier about the 300s done as 100 fly/100 free (active recovery)/100 fly (try to go faster). This sort of thing can be easily modified based on your abilities:
-- 200s done as 75 fly/50 free/75 fly
-- 100s done as 50 fly/25 free/25 fly sprint
You can also do broken swims.
About the only part where swimmj and I disagree is the last point. It is true that you have more room by yourself...but I often lack the self-discipline to do hard fly sets when training alone. If I announce to my lane-mates or coach that I am doing a set fly, I feel some pressure to complete the task even as the pain comes. When I am by myself, it is too easy to rationalize cutting the set short or decreasing the amount of fly ("my HR sure is pretty high, I think I've already done a lot today, I think this should be more of a recovery workout, etc"). But others may be less wimpy than I.
I like to swim a 200 drill, resting a little each 50 of: 50 kick, 50 right arm, 50 left arm, 50 L, L, R, R, full, full. Doing this every workout for the last three months, one thing I learned is that fly requires a really strong core. (ie what burns in these sets is my abdomen, from ribs right through to backside) Another thing I learned is that you can improve your fly without doing a ton of full stroke work, at least until you are in 'butterfly shape'.
(This set is combination of things I remember from my youth and SolarEnergy's posts here)
I have gone from almost dying on a 25 to being able to do a clean 75 maintaining my stroke rate (pretty close anyway).
On taper since 2012
I do train alone and I seem to do more fly than most people. Motivation is why I measure how much fly I do. I have weekly, monthly, and yearly targets, and knowing how much I need to do each day to hit those goals keeps me from slacking. Case in point: this morning. I felt tired and sluggish in the pool and I had noodlers wandering around in my lane (they started doing this around 25 minutes before their class time... I've decided that this is called "pre-noodling"), but I knew that I set a goal to do at least 4000 fly this week, and already I took Sunday off. So I grinded out the main set and got in a total of 725 fly for the workout. My times were slow but my form did not break down.
An explanation of scale: 4000 yards of fly per week is heavy but sustainable volume; I'm done with SCY season and I'm loading up for LCM. 3000 is more reasonable mid-season volume when meets are coming up. 2000 is more like an early taper amount (or maybe a mini-taper). 1000 is what I might do in the last week of a full taper. I've found that at least for my shoulders, 5000+ is serious peak fly volume and is not sustainable for more than 1-2 weeks without detrimental effect. I went nuts last September and did something like 23000 fly for the month (a training PR... yes I keep track of stuff like that ) but honestly I think it did more harm than good.
Hmmm, so this is what a fly lane is like. Nice.
This is the first, and last, time I will visit a fly lane
Back to my happy place, the IM lane
Thanks to Ande for starting this thread and to all the contributors. There are many good recommendations and sets here. I started swimming again 10 months ago and am working to build my fly speed and endurance. Initially I found that running helped shed the few pounds I needed to lose and build my core strength that is necessary for fly and swimming in general. Now that I am increasing my swimming conditioning, I have found running to help less, but I still do it for fun. The longer fly sets still intimidate me, so I sprint fly whenever I can, 25s/50s. I also do a lot of fly kick sets and kick fly whenever I have the opportunity. When I kick fast fly I swim fast fly.
Question for the fliers – do you ever use fins when doing longer fly sets? Have you found them to help your endurance?
Another possible way to increase fly endurance is to do what my coach calls the "Nemo" drill. Do a normal fly stroke but dive slightly deeper and kick 3 times underwater, then surface to take another stroke and repeat, breathing every stroke. It is easier than regular fly -- though not easy -- and I think it also helps with timing.
Not long ago I posted a call out to my Facebook friends to post their best "simple butterfly tip" for a Butterfly 101 Clinic I was coaching on the upcoming weekend.
Here is a collage of them - tips for all levels I would say from retired flyers to World Record Holders, Olympians, coaches and swimmers. This was fun!CVMM 101 ButterflySome simple tips from Butterflying Friends of Ahelee’sAllison Wagner: Get your head down quickly after breathing!(no particular order)
I'm a big fan of one arm fly… well, these days that's all I can do (literally) is just 1 arm.
"a friend sent it to me this AM as he knows my love of FLY... not! RL ain't so bad to watch either”
Ryan Lochte butterfly
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IywQzdwOyHw"]YouTube- Ryan Lochte butterfly technique[/nomedia] "
Mo Begley Chambers: "Hi Ahelee - simple, but basic, for butterfly. Keeping your head/neck/spine in alignment, press and then release your chest so it slips just under and then over the water. Work from your core! OK, short enough?
John Robert Morales:
"Butterfly tip: try to swim perfect butterfly in practice. It may be just a 25 or 50, but practicing a bad butterfly stroke only results in a bad butterfly stroke.
Jim McCleery: "Ahelee, I like two drills for butterfly. 1) 1 arm with dolphin kick, 2) dolphin kick with a snorkel and arms at your sides. Both enhance the rhythmic nature of the stroke. "
Jeri Marshburn (Tom Shields’ development coach):
Unless I am fine tuning a stroke there are 2 things I always say 1) “the fastest way to swim butterfly is underwater” ......and 2)"your legs are not useless appendages - your arms appreciate it when you use them!"
Ethan Yotter: "timing. timing. timing. If your arms are recovering, your head should be down. Also, the "wave" motion of butterfly- it starts at your head and goes
all the way to your toes."
Michael Heather: "Dive into each stroke. Lots of core strength=speed and endurance in butterfly."
Keith Dennison: "Butterfly is all about getting on top of and "flying" across the water. This is all technique, core strength and endurance. I would watch the YouTube videos from Phelps in 2008 at the Olympics and 2009 at World in Rome. For a clinic, I'd focus on sculling out in front and directly underneath the shoulders. One arm drills, breathing every other (focusing on keeping as high in the water as possible. Lastly, I'd do fly kick on your back in a perfect streamline.
For advanced swimmers, vertical kicking, also in a streamline position. It can't be mastered in a weekend, but you can improve significantly in a matter of a few months.
In the weight room; back, shoulders, triceps and core are the most critical. Bottom line, if you can do 3 sets of 10 pull ups unassisted, you have the tools to be an amazing flyer!!!
Tyler Clary: Work on shoulder and wrist flexibility. the better that is, the more efficient you will be which is especially helpful in long course events.
Lucy Johnson Face in the water before the hands, follow your hands with your eyes (and therefore your head) until eyes are looking at the bottom of the pool right under your face (not looking forward at this point); and lift your hips.
Jessica Hardy all I think about doing is trying to make it as much like breaststroke as possible...high catch underwater, low breath, and fast turnover!
(below is 1 conversation of tips)
Lisa Ward Do drills instead of broken down fly. That's all I do Leslie Livingston: Metoo Ahelee Sue Osborn: Me too... And Finz. Always! Leslie Livingston: I haven't swum a single length of fly without fins in years. Keeps the shoulders healthy and legs strong. Lisa Ward: I only use my zoomers for fast kick sets doing fly on my back. Since I'm starting to do 200 fly I will drill to keep up my endurance. When I only did 50 fly I rarely swam fly in practice. Leslie Livingston: I never use zoomers, only the regular speedo fins. I drill a ton of fly as well. I never swim more than a 50 fly in practice, usually AFAP. I use fins for all fly swimming. But I kick regularly without fins and practice my shooters without fins. I like using my monofin for an endurance dolphin kick set, or a super zippy speed set. In short, I kick a lot of fly and don't swim much. Fly is a very kick driven stroke. Now, if you're doing a 200, I have no advice, as I am strictly a sprint flyer.
Ande Rasmussen: Anything you do & measure, Improves,
Keep your head down, when not breathing
Move your arms fast
Fly is a flat stroke with a slight undulation
Andrea Block stay flat, press the chest and keep the hips high!
Bill Brenner For beginners, drop your chin towards your chest after each breath. Others, put one foot on top of the other when bringing the feet to the wall on the turns.
Michael Mann Hands under hips when pushing the stroke to finish
Rob Dumouchel: Remember that the more you can bear to kick underwater the less you have to actually swim on top of it
Nichole Talbot: One of the things I focus on is to keep my head low when taking a breath. If the head is too high, the body becomes more vertical which reduces momentum.
Mj Caswell: Press your chest down every time your arms come to the front and remember to enter the water with soft hands.
Ouida Liu: I always tell people to learn swim fly correctly and they'll be able to swim without getting tired.
Laura Val: For me I need to breathe every other to keep my rhythm. Otherwise I go up and down. Also I think about keeping my hips up and head down.
Gary Hall, Sr.: "Wow! tough one. Get your legs strong. When your legs go in fly, so do you. Good legs will keep you horizontal in fly...the only way to be. If you front breathe, lift the neck only; not the shoulders. Otherwise try breathing to the side like I now do.
Bridgitt Welge: It's always been a rule with me that there's NO breathing "off the wall" with fly. Beginners (and some non-beginners) lose their rhythm with that first breath and just can't get it back. You have to take a couple of strokes before your first breath...even if those couple strokes have to start out as 1-arm fly.(training)
Oh, psychology. I thought it was a LOT easier to do fly AFTER I was told that it should feel like I was going "downhill" than to simply learn that it feels "uphill" a lot of the time until you do it right.
Jessica Cole-Crawford: kick "UP" as well as down...
Another one: take your time at the top of the stroke when placing your hands in the water... allow yourself to catch and grab rather than slip through (no rushing the top of the stroke)...
Another: be sure to power through all the way to the bottom of the pull and "push" the water all the way through to your fingertips past your hips/thighs. this will help ease the recovery and allow your arms to naturally recover over the water will less effort on your part... it will help save the shoulders and preserve your upper body strength and endurance... I always found doing chin dips to be very helpful for this as well as working with the overhead pull-down in the weight room... get those triceps strong! lats and shoulders too... (and, of course the core- but I am focusing on upper body in this particular comment). core strengthening will help immensely with the kick, making sure it is equally strong on the up as well as on the down motion. kicking on your back is GREAT for this, as is vertical kicking... u should be able to work your way to being strong enough with your kick to be able to lift your body up out of the water at least to your ribcage...
Hermine Terhorst: 4 count fly drill.....under body to front for 1 out to sides for two breaths for 3 and push back for 4.....under body to front for 1...to begin again..... keeps them flat, teaches rhythm and makes them learn to wait to breathe (must do 2 before breath)
Michelle Chow: "Hide the cookie" or thumb drag drill. If you "hide a cookie" from me, then your palm with face more backwards than frontwards, the latter causing you to sink and go vertical. For breastroke, you "take a cookie, put it in your mouth!” More geared for little kiddies. Obviously, to break the habit of "putting the cookie in your pocket"!
Therese O'Rourke: I think the best way to swim fly is with a smile!
After Clovis I decided to STOP doing one arm fly drills being that I almost lapsed into it on the last 50 of the 200 due to fatigue.
Doing fly at the END of 200 frees and at the end of practice has really helped me with strength and endurance... which seems to help my whole stroke....When I teach kids fly, I usually have them do extra "up and outs" to build their upper body strength.
Whew, good to be out of the breaststroke lane ...
Last edited by The Fortress; April 27th, 2010 at 05:09 PM.
If you can't lift your arms above the water at the end of the race, you're done.
If you can't finish your stroke at the end of the race, you'll be going up/down instead of forward and you're done.
I don't use fins for a few reasons:
I do swim faster with fins... maybe if my pool were LCM it would be worth it, but it's SCY. I've never tried a monofin.
- I bike to the gym. I don't have a permanent locker there so the fins would be an extra thing to lug with me. No thanks.
- Fins take the skin off the top side of my 2nd and 3rd toes. (I don't know why... so I'll go with "it's because I kick incredibly hard!!!") To prevent that I'd have to wear socks or something. Another no thanks.
- It's fun to pass people who ARE wearing fins.
Ahalee: thanks for the tip compilation!
At the start of this year I got a pair of the aquasphere fins and they weigh almost nothing compared to most fins, so are more convenient to lug around, and they are made of a very soft almost foam like material and are the first fins I've had that I haven't had any problems with abrasion with. For anyone with fin abrasion problems these are worth a try.
Last week I was in Montreal and met "SolarEnergy" from this forum and learned quite a bit. One thing I was amazed by was how flexible ankles can be, and how inflexible mine were! It made me wonder whether differences in kicking technique might be caused by differences in ankle flexibility, and whether fins might be a different experience for those with and without flexible ankles. It seems logical that good ankle flexibility provides forward propulsion with a much smaller kick amplitude. Basic physics would say that the downbeat of the kick stops being propulsive once there are no surfaces with a backward facing component, so unless you can point your feet past 180 degrees your downbeat stops giving forward propulsion when it reaches horizontal, and in reality the forward component becomes very small well before that. Perhaps this is why swimmers with inflexible ankles, when given a kickboard naturally gravitate toward a large from-the-knee dolphin kick?
Ahelee, as always, you rock. Thanks for sharing the tips with us!
Thanks to those who shared if/how/when you use fins. I've always been of the mind to modify workouts until I can swim or kick them without equipment, but maybe I will give fins a try and test the results.
I use fins with fly some, but find they will support some lazy habits that swimming fly without will not. So I recommend some of each.
My favorite tool for fly is the snorkel. I use it for drills all the time. That way I can focus on the drill and not worry about the breath. I do a ton of kicking with the snorkel LCM in the summer ... good stuff.
"I don't race to see who is the fastest, I race to see who has the most guts."
Ahelee, I'll be living in the Breaststroke Lane , but dropping in on the Butterfly Lane for future reference. I'm focusing just on breaststroke for now, but plan on adding butterfly in competition, next year. So, thanks for taking the time to post all those great tips! I pasted them into a Word Doc to refer back to on a regular basis.
If you have not read it, a short story about Greg Shaw's training for his 200 fly world record, can be read here:
I have started doing more sets with different amounts of drill/fly and I think it has helped. I will know more after Atlanta.