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Thread: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Over the last weekend I competed in 50m and 100m LCM butterfly.

    I can swim the events, but I am just not able to keep my stroke together and remain at a reasonable speed (I would say fast, but even when sprinting it takes me about 36 secs per 50m SCM). I then deteriorate into 'survival' fly, where my hips drop and the priority is breathing on each stroke.

    On the 50m, I started to struggle over the last 10m, which lost me a few seconds. On the 100m, I went out a bit slower, but by the time I got to the second 50m I was really struggling. This meant it took me around 55 secs to do the second 50m.

    I've done a lot of fly in training recently, so I didn't expect it to be so tough.

    In contrast, I did the 100m freestyle, and kept my intensity near maximum throughout, so I'm not sure why fly would be so different?

    I do all of my training in a 25m pool, so do I really need to get to a 50m pool to get used to longcourse?

    Is part of the problem oxygen debt? I seem to have trouble breathing properly on fly, as I am normally rushing to get my head back down after a very short breath.

    I saw in the archives a topic about fly endurance. It suggested working on sets of 25m, then 50m, then 75m until doing 6x75m at a good pace. Another suggestion is doing 8x25m fly and decreasing the rest with each workout. My coach suggested doing 20x25m of 6 stroke fly followed by easy freestyle into the wall. That doesn't seem to be working for me, because it seems to be teaching me to swim 6 strokes then relax.

    Would you recommend one of the above training methods or another one?

    Is land training essential for conditioning to the level required, as most of my training is pool based right now?

    Sorry for the long topic, with lots of questions. Hopefully, I will find some help here or just pointed towards some articles/training methods that work.

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Sbuk, if you go to the Butterfly lane discussion, you will see that I have a similar problem. I am doing 100 yd. fly race (SCY) on March 4th and I am afraid that I will die in the last 25. In practice I have been building 75s. Since I do not have a good answer, I hope you succeed and inform me because my endurance is sad after that 75 (at least in practice). And like you my free endurance is fine. Well, take heart in knowing that all flyers are well aware of survival fly.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    I have found that diving into each stroke arm recovery and holding it for a second helps me in keeping a better pace in 100 & 200 fly. It gives me a slower but more even stroke throat he distance.

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    I used to have a really long loping fly stroke in my 20s. I could swim fly at a reasonable pace with moderate effort, but now I am older and bigger it seems that I have to stay at 95% effort to keep going quick. That's probably why I last for about 30 seconds, because when it becomes aerobic, I'm just not able to work hard enough.

    BTW, In the method where you do 25s, 50s etc. with lots of rest, what is considered "lots of rest"? It would probably be a bit pointless to take minutes of rest, but also 10 seconds might not allow enough recovery time.

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    It was my goal to race my first 200 fly last year. I started training in September and raced in March. I started out doing sets like 100m of 25 free, 50 fly, 25 free. I increased it up to 50 free, 100 fly, 50 free.

    Short sets of 25ís or 50ís will help, but you want to replicate the fatigue you will feel when doing a 200, or long course 100fly.

    Once a week in practice, i would do a 100 fly. We increased that to twice a week. Over the year, that distance was increased to 150, then 200. When we increased the distance, i would use fins until i could maintain technique, then went without.

    I would also do im sets. 300/400/500. For the 300, it would be 25 stroke, 25 free, 25 stroke, for all strokes (continous). The 400 would be 50 stroke, 25 free, 25 stroke, and the 500 would be 50 stroke 25 free, 50 stroke. You could also do them reverse im to be tired when it comes time for fly.

    By the end of the year, i was doing 500-650 m of fly spread out over a 2500-3000m practice.

    Good luck!

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    BTW, In the method where you do 25s, 50s etc. with lots of rest, what is considered "lots of rest"? It would probably be a bit pointless to take minutes of rest, but also 10 seconds might not allow enough recovery time.
    A few thoughts:

    1. If you really want to race butterfly in long course, then you must practice it long course. You can 'survive' a long course fly race if you only train in short course, but there will be lots of pain.
    2. I do love racing the 200 fly (SCM or SCY), I find that my butterfly falls apart pretty quickly in workout, so most of my repeats are 25s or 50s. I really only do a straight 100 fly in workout when I'm doing a 400 IM. I will never do a 200 fly in a workout, because my stroke will just degrade. Like, never, ever, ever.
    3. When I am training to race a 200 fly, I tend to start with something like 6 or 8 x 50 where I'm aiming to hit my target race pace on each 50. When I first start doing this set, I'll set the interval at 20 seconds above my target race pace. If I get to the point where that is really comfortable, I'll drop the interval to 15 seconds above target race pace. As I get closer to race day, I'd probably do 4 to 6 x 50 and set the interval at 10 seconds above target race pace.
    4. The biggest key to surviving a 200 fly, is to be as relaxed as possible on the first 100. I once read a former Olympian compare it to 'sleeping through' the first 100. Then start to build the 3rd 50 ... but not too much ... so that you can be strong on the last 50. Whenever I've adhered to that approach, the time has been good and the pain well-managed.
    5. Beyond all of the above ... or, rather, before all of the above, see if you can have a good technique coach help work on your form.

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    A few thoughts:

    1. If you really want to race butterfly in long course, then you must practice it long course. You can 'survive' a long course fly race if you only train in short course, but there will be lots of pain.
    2. I do love racing the 200 fly (SCM or SCY), I find that my butterfly falls apart pretty quickly in workout, so most of my repeats are 25s or 50s. I really only do a straight 100 fly in workout when I'm doing a 400 IM. I will never do a 200 fly in a workout, because my stroke will just degrade. Like, never, ever, ever.
    3. When I am training to race a 200 fly, I tend to start with something like 6 or 8 x 50 where I'm aiming to hit my target race pace on each 50. When I first start doing this set, I'll set the interval at 20 seconds above my target race pace. If I get to the point where that is really comfortable, I'll drop the interval to 15 seconds above target race pace. As I get closer to race day, I'd probably do 4 to 6 x 50 and set the interval at 10 seconds above target race pace.
    4. The biggest key to surviving a 200 fly, is to be as relaxed as possible on the first 100. I once read a former Olympian compare it to 'sleeping through' the first 100. Then start to build the 3rd 50 ... but not too much ... so that you can be strong on the last 50. Whenever I've adhered to that approach, the time has been good and the pain well-managed.
    5. Beyond all of the above ... or, rather, before all of the above, see if you can have a good technique coach help work on your form.
    Thanks for the advice.

    It seems my plan of doing repeats off 1 min/each 25m (so, 50m is done off 2 mins etc.) may be a bit too easy. But I'm going to make it a long term goal to keep training towards the 200m fly, so I can adjust the rest/distance as I improve. Whatever I do, I will aim to hold about 20 secs/25m swim time, as that's roughly what I can do when holding a good stroke without going all out.

    I may add in longcourse training too, or train towards a longer distance than 200scm, like a 250m or 300m.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    It seems my plan of doing repeats off 1 min/each 25m (so, 50m is done off 2 mins etc.) may be a bit too easy
    Yes, if you can sprint a 36 second 50 fly, you need to be doing faster repeats if you want to build your fly endurance. You need to feel the same kind of fatigue in your training swims as you will in a race.

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    You need to feel the same kind of fatigue in your training swims as you will in a race.
    Remarkably few swimmers, (and coaches for that matter) seem to get this concept.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    As I hang on the wall after fast repeats in practice I will try to remember that!

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    I've started off quite conservatively. I'm doing 10x50m on 1:45, followed by 10x25m on 45.

    The 10x50m sounds easy, but I've had a cold, so it's affecting my recovery between each repeat. I managed to keep the pace around 45 secs (40 at first). I will aim to reduce the rest when I feel better, and can maintain my stroke (it became difficult to hold my arm entry correctly during the final few 50s).

    The 10x25m were good, and I will be reducing the rest by 5 secs next time.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    I've started off quite conservatively. I'm doing 10x50m on 1:45, followed by 10x25m on 45.
    What are you doing for your aerobic conditioning?

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    What are you doing for your aerobic conditioning?
    I do a lot of other swimming besides the fly training. That was just an example of the fly sets that I am doing, but there's a lot of other training going on too, usually on Free, Back or IM, and with much less rest.

    I don't do any aerobic training outside the pool. Do I need to join a gym and do rowing, cycling etc., or do something different from that? I do a bit of land training at home, but that's generally static exercises and trying to improve core stability, e.g. planks, push ups, bodyweight squats.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    I do a lot of other swimming besides the fly training. That was just an example of the fly sets that I am doing, but there's a lot of other training going on too, usually on Free, Back or IM, and with much less rest.

    I don't do any aerobic training outside the pool. Do I need to join a gym and do rowing, cycling etc., or do something different from that? I do a bit of land training at home, but that's generally static exercises and trying to improve core stability, e.g. planks, push ups, bodyweight squats.
    No, pool training should be enough. I just wanted to make sure you were doing aerobic training in the pool because I think that's critical if you want to improve your 100 fly. My personal opinion is at least a couple days a week (and ideally more) you should be doing a set where you are swimming with only short rest intervals for at least 20 minutes.

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    Participating Member Sbuk's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    No, pool training should be enough. I just wanted to make sure you were doing aerobic training in the pool because I think that's critical if you want to improve your 100 fly. My personal opinion is at least a couple days a week (and ideally more) you should be doing a set where you are swimming with only short rest intervals for at least 20 minutes.
    I swim 4-5 times a week if work allows. Some of those will be 1 hour club sessions, where I have little control over what I do, but I do like getting more backstroke practice by doing it instead of freestyle on some sets, which also increases difficulty. The other sessions will be in public lane swimming, but it's normally quiet enough to get a good varied longer session done. I save the fly for if there's lots of room, as switching to single arm to pass people ruins my momentum and stroke.

    My fitness is still improving after stopping swimming for about 14 years. I've been back for about 2 years now, but I am still making regular progress. My bodyweight has improved greatly, as when not swimming I was a powerlifter and was over 320#. I'm now back down to about 225# at 6'3". I still have weight to lose, and I am sure that will help my fly, but I want to get the training right too.

    In terms of talent, I am not good at all, but I want to get to a level where I can swim a 200m fly without switching to survival fly, i.e. maintaining a long and strong stroke, even if it's not as quick as the good swimmers.

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    When I am training to race a 200 fly, I tend to start with something like 6 or 8 x 50 where I'm aiming to hit my target race pace on each 50. When I first start doing this set, I'll set the interval at 20 seconds above my target race pace. If I get to the point where that is really comfortable, I'll drop the interval to 15 seconds above target race pace. As I get closer to race day, I'd probably do 4 to 6 x 50 and set the interval at 10 seconds above target race pace

    Hi, Patrick!
    How many times per week would you recommend I do this set? I typically swim 6 x wk (when I'm not traveling), and I max out my workouts at 2,500 yards. My core events are breaststroke; however, I also compete in 400 IM, 200 fly, and I will add distance free on a multi-day meet. How would you break down the percentage of yardage I swim each stroke in each workout?

    Thanks!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    In terms of talent, I am not good at all, but I want to get to a level where I can swim a 200m fly without switching to survival fly, i.e. maintaining a long and strong stroke, even if it's not as quick as the good swimmers.
    It sounds to me like you are doing the things you need to do to improve. Good luck!

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    200 fly is a survival event!!

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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbuk View Post
    Thanks for the advice.

    It seems my plan of doing repeats off 1 min/each 25m (so, 50m is done off 2 mins etc.) may be a bit too easy. But I'm going to make it a long term goal to keep training towards the 200m fly, so I can adjust the rest/distance as I improve. Whatever I do, I will aim to hold about 20 secs/25m swim time, as that's roughly what I can do when holding a good stroke without going all out.

    I may add in longcourse training too, or train towards a longer distance than 200scm, like a 250m or 300m.
    I was about where you are a year or so ago, swimming a lot of 25's on a minute. I tried to do a set of at least 8x25 every day, even if I had to squeeze it in after our coached workout (my coach used to joke about how I was swimming fly for my warm down). I've gradually worked it down to 25's on 0:40.

    I've also worn my Zoomers a lot to let me do some longer sets before my stroke starts to break down.

    I have the advantage of swimming long course 3 days/week for a good part of the year. I like it because it really forces you to find a sustainable rhythm, whereas in SCY, a strong turn and good underwaters can help to offset stroke weaknesses.

    I'll also stretch out my glide a bit more when swimming distance butterfly. One drill I was taught was to add another kick after your arm entry to help establish a good body position before you start your arm pull.

    You also have to be careful not to "dive" too much on your entry, which increases drag significantly. I was guilty of that, not realizing how much I was doing it until I saw an underwater video of my stroke.

    Just my $0.02

    Good luck with your training.

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    Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve my butterfly (esp. 200m and LCM)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Usher View Post
    whereas in SCY, a strong turn and good underwaters can help to offset stroke weaknesses.
    This is the only reason I was a competent SCY IMer.
    400 IMer in another life.

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