Butterfly is a tough stroke to swim. It demands excellent fitness, strong legs, upper body and core, along with exceptional shoulder and ankle flexibility in order to perform well. Olympian and former butterfly world record holder Roland Schoeman makes it look easier with his graceful, yet powerful strokes across the pool. One of Roland’s secrets to swimming a faster butterfly is to enter his hands directly in front of his shoulders, rather than over or under reaching with the arm swing. He then initiates the pull quickly but maintains the elbows in a rather high position as he forcefully pushes his hands backward through the water . The high elbow position enables him to create propulsion from his hands without causing an excessive amount of frontal drag from the upper arms. Similar to the freestyle pull, but with both arms moving underwater at the same time, the high elbow pull in butterfly is a compromise from the maximum power possible, but is a technique that is required to reach the fastest speeds.
In swimming, we often need to learn to do what is right, rather than what feels right. That can be a challenge when we don’t feel the frontal drag forces working to slow us down. At The Race Club, we teach the right technique for each swimmer for all strokes With every stroke of butterfly taken, the precise timing of the two down kicks coupled with the recovery of the arms and the high elbow underwater pull is absolutely crucial for speed. Keeping the arm pull in the high elbow position enables the swimmer to get the hands through the stroke cycle faster, while reducing frontal drag. Watch Roland in this Race Club Swimisode and see how he has mastered this challenging butterfly stroke.