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Thread: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

  1. #1
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    Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    I'm basically new to swimming and I have two questions. I've included more background/basic info below if it's needed.

    1. Is it a terrible idea to try to teach myself the butterfly? If not, what are the best resources I might consult? I've found some TI videos and thought I'd start with those (I find these especially appealing because they seem to emphasize using the core muscles.)

    2. If it is a bad idea to try the butterfly on my own, could I do a breaststroke with a dolphin kick?

    I've always enjoyed swimming, but due to joint problems I've recently started using it as my primary fitness regimen. I've been swimming two or three times a week for about a month - mainly head-up freestyle, and I've been getting outpaced by little-old-ladies (no offense to the little-old-ladies, in fact they're the one who have inspired me to work on my technique). I want to be a good, strong swimmer. I don't envision myself ever swimming competitively, though I suppose that could be cool eventually. I plan to take a swimming class, but the one in my area that seems most suited to my needs doesn't begin for about a month.

    I did my first face in the water freestyle today. It did not go well. Turning and breathing was far more complicated than I imagined. I also tried the breast stroke, but the kick felt awkward. After some internet searching, I feel like I would like the butterfly, but I keep reading about how complicated it is.

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Hi JSB, you could try to teach yourself the butterfly, although given that you are a beginning swimmer and have a hard time swimming with your face in the water, you might want to spend some more time working on the freestyle first...

    If you still want to teach yourself the butterfly, there are a variety of drills to work on - you should focus on kicking drills such as streamline kick on back, or kick with board, and kick on your side. You can then move on to drills that incorporate the pull, like single arm or single double single.


    As for the breaststroke pull, dolphin kick - that is actually a drill that is used by many swimmers. But I would focus more on developing the basic elements of swimming - kicking, core strength, breathing ability, before tackling this type of drill.

    And I would certainly advise working with a swimming instructor to improve your skills. If you need instructional videos in all of the 4 strokes, you should check out the Swimspire video collection: www.swimspire.com/videos.



    Good luck!

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    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Butterfly is actually the simplest stroke to learn. It does require flexibility and stamina to swim for any length of time. Core strength is especially helpful.

    I agree with swimspire, get comfortable with freestyle first before adding any new challenges to your routine. Seek out a coach (or even a willing experienced swimmer to watch) to help you refine your stroke and breathing and you will be very happy with the results.

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    Very Active Member smontanaro's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Heather View Post
    Butterfly is actually the simplest stroke to learn.
    Hmmm... Never seemed that way to me. I can't swim it without hurting my shoulders. A couple strokes and I'm done.

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    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Quote Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
    Hmmm... Never seemed that way to me. I can't swim it without hurting my shoulders. A couple strokes and I'm done.
    You are obviously equating easy with simple. I did say that it took stamina and flexibility to swim for any duration.

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    Very Active Member smontanaro's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Heather View Post
    You are obviously equating easy with simple. I did say that it took stamina and flexibility to swim for any duration.
    Let me rephrase that. I don't find the timing at all straightforward, and I think that contributes to problems with hurting my shoulders.

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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    it just depends on your ability, athleticism, & fitness
    expert instruction is far better

    suggestions I have for you are:

    Swim butterfly fast, move your arms fast,
    Don't breathe
    only take a few strokes when attempting fly like 2, 3, 4 or 5
    do small kicks until you perfect the timing
    Keep your body flat

  8. #8
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Quote Originally Posted by ande View Post
    it just depends on your ability, athleticism, & fitness
    expert instruction is far better

    suggestions I have for you are:

    Swim butterfly fast, move your arms fast,
    Don't breathe
    only take a few strokes when attempting fly like 2, 3, 4 or 5
    do small kicks until you perfect the timing
    Keep your body flat
    A coach once said "Practice doesn't make it perfect....perfect practice makes it perfect". Any swimmer, whether beginner or otherwise, needs to focus on individual elements of the stroke to improve - through practicing drills and practicing them slowly. JSB, you are new to swimming and you mentioned that you also have joint problems. I would strongly recommend, if you decide to start out with the butterfly, to proceed in very small increments, which is why I recommended kicking drills or single arm in my previous post. I would definitely not take a "fast" approach to the butterfly as this will not help build the foundation of your stroke, and will only increase any injuries that you may already have. A 'slow' approach to swimming (drills, kicking) is preferable if you want to develop a great butterfly. How many younger or beginner swimmers have we seen developing bad habits and carrying them throughout their lives because their coaches put more emphasis on "fast" swimming as opposed to "correct" swimming?

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    Very Active Member rtodd's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Every swimmer is different, but in general butterfly is the most difficult stroke to learn. Breaststroke can be tricky, but a swimmer can practice it more before getting tired. Butterfly gets tiring fast!

    Get a coach to learn. Bad habits form very fast and are hard to unwind later. Anyone can learn butterfly. Once you learn butterfly it is easy to swim it.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning Swimmer and the Butterfly or …?

    Have you tried to contact a local Masters team? I think it would be very good to start with good habits rather than try to break old ones in learning to swim for race reasons.

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