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SWIMMING





1. FRONT CRAWL



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Front crawl is the fastest stroke and gives you the feeling of being powerful in the water.
It is often hard to get the hang of at first because fitting in the breathing can be difficult.
STEP ONEexternal image _40779832_front_crawl_1.gif
Swim with all of your body close to the surface of the water, keeping your hips and legs behind your shoulders.
Imagine you are trying to swim through a narrow tube without touching the sides.
A good way of doing this is to put your face in the water and keep your legs kicking all of the time.
STEP TWOexternal image _40779830_front_crawl_6.gif
Try to use long fast kicks, making sure all of your leg is moving up and down.
Your knees should bend a little bit and your feet should make a small splash. Try counting to six quickly and kicking your legs in time with this.
STEP THREEexternal image _40779834_front_crawl_2.gif
Your arms provide the power for the stroke, so one arm should follow the other through the water and over the top.
Try putting your hand into the water in front of your head and stretch it forwards as far as it will go, slicing it into the water with your thumb first - the less splash the better.
STEP FOURexternal image _40779836_front_crawl_3.gif
Increase your speed by bending your elbow and pushing your hand towards your feet, keeping it going until it reaches the top of your leg.
Lift your arm out of the water and try to control it as it goes back to the starting point.
STEP FIVEexternal image _40779838_front_crawl_4.gif
Breathe regularly. Your face is in the water so you need to remember to turn your head when you want to take a breath.
Try to turn your head smoothly, leaving the side of your head resting in the water.






2. BREAST STROKE



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Breaststroke is a traditional stroke popular with people who like to swim for fitness.
It is the slowest stroke, but that does not mean it cannot be swum powerfully and at speed.
STEP ONEexternal image _40777502_breast_stroke_1.gif
The most important thing about breaststroke is to keep your body level at the surface.
Your shoulders need to be in line and your hips also need to be flat in the water.
Now move your feet and legs together like a frog - this is usually the most troublesome area of breaststroke.
It is the only stroke which uses these movements and can be difficult to get both legs to do the same thing at the same time.
Here are a few tips to help synchronise your legs:
  • Bend your knees and lift your feet up to your bottom
  • Turn your feet out so that you can push back with the bottom of your foot
  • Move your feet out and in again to meet each other
  • Straighten your legs with your knees touching
  • You can try this sitting on the side of the pool with your legs dangling in the water
Alternatively, you can do it in the water holding on to the rail with your legs stretched behind you.
STEP TWOexternal image _40777504_breast_stroke_2.gif
Take long stretches between each stroke with your arms.
A really good tip is to make sure you can always see your hands. This will help to get the arm action right.
Start by stretching your arms out in front of you, just under the surface of the water.
Then press both hands out and round to draw a full circle, making sure your hands stay in front of your shoulders.
Your hands should finish by stretching forwards again.
Your arms and legs should stay in the water all of the time, making no splash at all.
STEP THREEexternal image _40777506_breast_stroke_3.gif
Breathe in as you finish the circle, lifting your face out of the water.
Put your face back into the water as you stretch your arms forward to begin the circle again.
STEP FOURexternal image _40777508_breast_stroke_4.gif
The last step is to put the stroke together, so:
  • Pull with your arms and breathe in.
  • Kick your legs.
  • Stretch out with your body level in the water.






3. BACK STROKE



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The back crawl is different to most strokes because you cannot see where you are going.
It is a good idea to count how many strokes it takes you to swim a length so you will know when you are getting close to the end of the pool.
Try and swim with all of your body close to the surface of the water, almost like you are lying on your back in bed with your head on a pillow.
STEP ONEexternal image _40776922_back_stroke_1.gif
It is difficult to keep your body travelling in a straight line if you don't kick your legs.
Use long fast kicks, making sure your legs are moving up and down.
Keep your knees underwater and bent a little, and your toes should make a small splash when you kick.
STEP TWOexternal image _40776924_back_stroke_2.gif
The arms provide the power in back crawl, making a circling action as they move in and out of the water.
You start by putting one arm in the water in a straight line above your shoulder.
Once your hand is in the water it should push down and towards your feet. Bend your elbow slightly and pull your arm by your side to your thigh.
Keep pushing your hand towards your feet until your elbow is straight. Then lift it out of the water, back to its original position and repeat the motion again.
Keep the arm straight all of the time it is out of the water.
The left and right arms do the same movement, but not at the same time. One should come out of the water at about the same time as the other enters it.






4. BUTTERFLY



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Butterfly needs both stamina and technique, but the body movements are not difficult because you will have done many of them before in other strokes.
When racing butterfly, your arms must come out of the water on every stroke.
They must not drag through the water when they move from your hips to the entry position.
STEP ONEexternal image _40790688_butterfly_2.gif
Both of your arms work at the same time and keep moving throughout the stroke.
Put your hands in the water in front of your shoulders and pull them towards your feet.
STEP TWOexternal image _40790690_butterfly_3.gif
When your hands reach your thighs, lift them out of the water and throw them back to the start.
You should keep your head in the water all the time, except when you need to breathe in.
If you lift your head up at other times it will be almost impossible to get your arms over the water.
The easiest way to breathe in is to push your chin forwards so that your mouth comes out of the water.
It is best to do this when your arms are almost at your thighs.
STEP THREEexternal image _40790692_butterfly_4.gif
The difficult part is getting everything in the right order, so:
  • Kick your legs down as your hands go in
  • Kick your legs down as your hands come out
  • Keep your head down when your arms go over the water
  • Keep your head down until your arms are near your thighs
  • Breathe in quickly

Remember to try to improve one bit at a time






5. RACING START



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Most top swimmers use the grab start to get their race under way .
This gets you moving off the blocks quickly and into the water smoothly.
The starter will not begin the race until everybody is ready and still.
This is really important because you can be disqualified if you fall in before the start or if you are slow getting ready.
STEP ONEexternal image _40783156_diving_1.gif
The better your starting position, the better your dive, so:
  • Head : Tucked in as close to your knees as possible
  • Hips : As high as possible, lift them up and try not to push them back
  • Legs : Curl your toes over the edge of the block and bend your knees slightly
  • Arms : Should be in a "hands on" position, this means one hand on top of the other. Stretch your arms down, point your fingers to the floor and put your palms on the front of the wall or starting block.
STEP TWOexternal image _40783158_diving_2.gif
Push off with as much power as possible.
Press hard with the palms of your hands and throw your arms forward.
Look up slightly as you push away to get your body to follow your head.
If you look up for too long, however, your feet will go in at the same time as your hands. This is not a good idea.
As soon as your feet leave the starting block:
  • Tuck your head in
  • Push your hips up
  • Streamline your body so that you go into the water head first
STEP THREEexternal image _40783160_diving_3.gif
As you approach the water, imagine you are trying to slide through a hole without making any splash.
As you go in, let your hands and head lift slightly.
Try to hold the "hands on" streamlined position until you are close to the surface and ready to start swimming.
A really good tip for making a smooth change from diving to swimming is to imagine that there is no join between the two.
Someone watching should not be able to see where one finished and the next one started.












MORE NOTES TO WORK ON AND IMPROVE YOUR KNOWLEDGE.



1. FRONT CRAWL.

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The initial position in freestyle is on the breast, with both arms stretched to the front and the legs extended to the back.


Arm movement

The arm movement in freestyle is alternating, i.e., while one arm is pulling/pushing, the other arm is recovering. The arm strokes also provide most of the forward movement in freestyle. The move can be separated into three parts, the pull, the push, and the recovery.

From the initial position, the arm sinks slightly lower and the palm of the hand turns 45 degree with the thumb side of the palm towards the bottom. This is called catching the water and is in preparation for the pull. It also gives the muscles a brief rest during swimming. The pull movement follows a semicircle with the elbow higher than the hand and the hand pointing towards the body center and downward. The semicircle ends in front of the chest at the beginning of the ribcage.

The push pushes the palm backward through the water underneath the body at the beginning and at the side of the body at the end of the push. The movement increases speed throughout the pull push phase until the hand is moving at its greatest speed shortly before the end of the push.

Sometime after the beginning of the recovery of the one arm, the other arm begins its pull. The recovery moves the elbow in a semicircle in a vertical plane in the swimming direction. The lower arm and the hand are completely relaxed and hang down from the elbow close to the water surface and close to the swimmer's body. This gives the muscles a brief opportunity to rest. The beginning of the recovery looks similar to pulling the hand out of the back pocket of a pair of pants, with the small finger upwards. Further into the recovery phase, the hand movement has been compared to pulling up a center zip on a wetsuit. The recovering hand moves forward, with the fingers trailing downward, just above the surface of the water. In the middle of the recovery one shoulder is rotated into the air while the other is jumping backwards to avoid drag due to the large frontal area which at this specific time is not covered by the arm. To rotate the shoulder, some twist their torso while others also rotate everything down to their feet.

Beginners often make the mistake of not relaxing the arm during the recovery and of moving the hand too high and too far away from the body, in some cases even higher than the elbow. In these cases, drag and incidental muscle effort is increased at the expense of speed. Beginners often forget to use their shoulders to let the hand enter as far forward as possible. Some say the hand should enter the water thumb first, reducing drag through possible turbulence, others say the middle finger is first with the hand precisely bent down, giving thrust right from the start. At the beginning of the pull, the hand acts like a wing and is moved slower than the velocity of the swimmer (this may look like a brief rest) while at the end it acts like a scull and is moved faster than the velocity of the swimmer.

A recreational variation of front crawl involves only one arm moving at any one time, while the other arm rests and is stretched out at the front. This style is called a "catch up" stroke and requires less strength for swimming. This is because the immersed length of the body is longer and more streamlined. This style is slower than the regular front crawl and is rarely used competitively: however, it is often used for training purposes even by professional swimmers, as it increases the body's awareness of being streamlined in the water. Total Immersion is a similar technique.


The leg movement

The leg movement in freestyle is called the flutter kick. The legs move alternately, with one leg kicking downward while the other leg moves upward. While the legs provide only a small part of the overall speed, they are important to stabilize the body position. This lack of balance is apparent when using a pull buoy to neutralize the leg action.

The leg in the initial position bends very slightly at the knees, and then kicks the lower leg and the foot downwards similar to kicking a football. The legs may be bent inward slightly. After the kick the straight leg moves back up. A frequent mistake of beginners is to bend the legs too much or to kick too much out of the water.

Ideally, there are 6 kicks per cycle, although it is also possible to use 4 kicks or even 2 kicks. Franziska van Almsick, for example, swims very successfully with four kicks per cycle. When one arm is pushed down the opposite leg needs to do a downwards kick also, to fix the body orientation, because this happens shortly after the body rotation. Alternatively, front crawl can also be swum with a butterfly kick, although this reduces the stability of the swimming position. A breaststroke kick with front crawl arms (the Trudgen) is awkward, because the breathing pattern for front crawl needs a rotation, yet a breaststroke kick resists this rotation.


Breathing

Normally, the face is in the water during front crawl with eyes looking at the lower part of the wall in front of the pool, with the waterline between the brow line and the hairline. Yet, currently, many are debating whether the head should be kept down too. Breaths are taken through the mouth by turning the head to the side of a recovering arm at the beginning of the recovery, and breathing in the triangle between the upper arm, lower arm, and the waterline. The swimmer's forward movement will cause a bow wave with a trough in the water surface near the ears. After turning the head, a breath can be taken in this trough without the need to move the mouth above the average water surface. A thin film of water running down the head can be blown away just before the intake. The head is rotated back at the end of the recovery and points down and forward again when the recovered hand enters the water. The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose until the next breath. Breathing out through the nose prevents water from entering the nose.

Standard swimming calls for one breath every third arm recovery, i.e., every 1.5 cycles, alternating the sides for breathing. Some swimmers instead take a breath every cycle, i.e., every second arm recovery, breathing always to the same side. Since breathing slightly reduces the speed, most competition swimmers breathe every 1.5 cycles. Swimmers sprinting the last few meters of a longer distance may breathe even less, and sprint swimmers rarely breathe at all- e.g. in a short-course 50 m race, most competitors prefer to breathe only 3 times for the whole race, once on the first 25 and twice on the final 25 after the flip turn.

In water polo, sometimes the head is kept out of the water completely for better visibility and easier breathing, at the price of a much steeper body position and higher drag.


Body movement

The body rolls about its long axis with every arm stroke such that the shoulder of the recovering arm is higher than the shoulder of the pushing/pulling arm. This makes the recovery much easier and reduces the need to turn the head to breathe. As one shoulder is out of the water it reduces drag, as one shoulder falls it aids the arm catching the water, as one shoulder rises it aids the arm at end of the push to leave the water.

Side-to-side movement is kept to a minimum: one of the main functions of the leg kick is to maintain the line of the body.






2. BACKSTROKE


In the initial position, the swimmer lies flat on his back, arms stretched forward, and legs extended backwards.


Arm movement

In backstroke, the arms contribute most of the forward movement. The arm stroke consists of two main parts: the power phase (consisting of three separate parts) and the recovery. The arms alternate so that always one arm is underwater while the other arm is recovering. One complete arm turn is considered one cycle. From the initial position, one arm sinks slightly under water and turns the palm outward start the Catch phase (first part of the power phase). The hand enters downward about ten inches, catching the water.
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During the power phase the hand follows a semi-circular path from the Catch to the side of the hip. The palm is always facing away from the swimming direction, and the elbow always points downward towards the bottom of the pool. This is done so that both the arms and the elbow can push the maximum amount of water back in order to push the body forward. At the height of the shoulders the upper and lower arms should have its maximum angle of about 90 degrees. This is called the Mid-Pull of the power phase.

The Mid-Pull phase consists of pushing the palm of the hand as far down as possible with the fingers pointing upward. Again, the goal is to push the body forward against the water. At the very end of the Mid-Pull, the palm flaps down for a last push forward down to a depth of 45 cm, creating the Finish of the Power phase. Besides pushing the body forward this also helps with the rolling back to the other side as part of the body movement. During the power phase, the fingers of the hand can be slightly apart, as this will increase the resistance of the hand in the water due to turbulence.

To prepare for the recovery phase, the hand is rotated so that the palms point towards the legs and the thumb side points upwards. At the beginning of the recovery phase of the one arm, the other arm begins its power phase. The recovering arm is moved in a semicircle straight over the shoulders to the front. During this recovery, the palm rotates so that the small finger enters the water first and the palms point outward. After a short gliding phase, the cycle repeats with the preparation for the next power phase.
external image techniquebackstroke_bks_img02.gif

A variant is to move both arms synchronized and not alternating, similar to an upside down butterfly stroke. This is easier to coordinate, and the peak speed during the combined power phase is faster, yet the speed is much slower during the combined recovery. The average speed will usually be less than the average speed of the alternating stroke.

Another variant is the old style way of swimming backstroke, where the arm movement formed a complete circle in a windmill type pattern. However, this style is nowadays no longer used for competitive swimming, as a lot of energy is spent on pushing the body up and down instead of forward. Furthermore, the added strain on the shoulder is considered less than ideal and can lead to injuries.

It is also possible to move only one arm at a time, where one arm moves through the power and recovery phases while the other arm rests. This is slow, but it is used frequently to teach students the movement, as they have to concentrate on only one arm.


Leg movement

The leg movement in backstroke is similar to the flutter kick in front crawl. They make a small contribution to the forward speed, yet are very significant for stabilizing the body.

The leg stroke is also alternating, with one leg sinking down straight to about 30 degree out of the horizontal. From this position the leg makes a fast kick upward, slightly bending the knee at the beginning and then stretching it again in the horizontal. However, there are also frequent variants with four or only two kicks per cycle. Usually, sprinters tend to use 6 kicks per cycle, whereas long distance swimmer may use less.
external image techniquebackstroke_bks_legs.gif
It is also possible to use a breaststroke kick or a butterfly (dolphin) kick, although this is rare except the butterfly kick after the start and the turns. Breaststroke kicks are most comfortable if the arms are used synchronized, as the breaststroke kick has difficulty to compensate for a rolling movement due to alternating arm cycles. The butterfly kick can be done slightly to one side depending on the rolling of the body.


Breathing

Breathing in backstroke is very easy, as the mouth and nose are almost always over water. Competitive swimmers breathe in through the mouth during the recovery of one arm, and breathe out through the mouth and nose during the pull and push phase. This is done to clear the nose of water.


Body movement

Due to the asynchronous movement of the arms, there is a roll of the body around its own axis. This is normal and helps swimming effectively. The overall position of the body is straight in the horizontal to reduce drag. Beginners frequently let their posterior sink too low and increase drag, because to avoid this the upper legs have to be moved to the extreme down position at each kick even with a little help by the back and the foot tips have to be fixed in the extreme lower position. And the head is held out of the water to act as a counter-weight.






3. BREASTROKE



The breaststroke starts with the swimmer lying in the water face down, arms extended straight forward and legs extended straight to the back.


Arm movement

There are three steps to the arm movement: outsweep, insweep, and recovery. The movement starts with the outsweep. From the initial position, the hands sink a little bit down and the palms face outward, and the hands move apart. During the outsweep the arms stay almost straight and parallel to the surface. The outsweep is followed by the insweep, where the hands point down and push the water backwards. The elbows stay in the horizontal plane through the shoulders. The hands push back until approximately the vertical plane through the shoulders. At the end of the insweep the hands come together with facing palms in front of the chest and the elbows are at the side at the body. In the recovery phase the hands are moved forward again into the initial position under water. The entire arm stroke starts slowly, increases speed to the peak arm movement speed in the insweep phase, and slows down again during recovery. The goal is to produce maximum thrust during the insweep phase, and minimum drag during the recovery phase.


As a variant, it is possible to recover the arms over water. This reduces drag, but requires more power. Some competitive swimmers use this variant, in competition.


Another variant is the underwater pull-down, similar to the push phase of a butterfly stroke. This stroke continues the insweep phase and pushes the hands all the way to the back to the sides of the hip. This greatly increases the push from one stroke, but also makes recovery more difficult. This style is well suited for underwater swimming. However, FINA allows this stroke only for the first stroke after the start and each turn. In late 2005, FINA has also introduced a new rule which allows you to perform a single downward kick after the push off the wall.


Tips: arms start slowly and speed up during the phases, similar to a motorcycle accelerating after standing on a red light. The arms are never paused until they reach the front and the swimmer is in the glide. You can learn more in this detailed arm stroke description.


Leg movement

The leg movement, colloquially known as the "frog kick", consists of two phases: bringing the feet into position for the thrust phase and the insweep phase. From the initial position with the legs stretched out backward, the feet are moved together towards the posterior, while the knees stay together. The knees should not sink too low, as this increases the drag. Then the feet point outward in preparation for the thrust phase. In the thrust phase, the legs are moved elliptically back to the initial position. During this movement, the knees are kept together. The legs move slower while bringing the legs into position for the thrust phase, and move very fast during the thrust phase. Again, the goal is produce maximum thrust during the insweep phase, and minimum drag during the recovery phase.


As a variant, some swimmers move the knees apart during the preparation phase and keep them apart until almost the end of the thrust phase. Moving both knee and foot outwards like a real frog avoids the extreme rotation in the lower leg.


Another variant of the breaststroke kick is the scissor kick, however, this kick violates the rules of the FINA as it is no longer symmetrical. Swimming teachers put a great effort into steering the students away from the scissor kick. In the scissor kick, one leg moves as described above, but the other leg does not form an elliptical movement but merely an up-down movement similar to the flutter kick of front crawl. Some swimming teachers believe that learning the front crawl first gives a higher risk of an incorrect scissor kick when learning breaststroke afterwards.


Breaststroke can also be swum with the dolphin kick in butterfly, yet this also violates the FINA rules. One kick is allowed, however, at the start and at the turn providing that it is part of the body's natural movement.


The harmonic movements of the dolphin kick and flutter kick are in contrast to the breaststroke whip kick, which really deserves the name kick. Scissor kick and frog kick are intermediate. Humans have strong muscles in the legs and would need swimfins (like a frog) to bring all their power into the water and stand with the sole of the feet on the water. Rather the leg grabs almost as much water as the foot and a small amount of water is accelerated to high kinetic energy, but not much impulse is transferred. The toes are bent, the feet point 45° outwards, the sole points backwards, to mimic a hydrofoil. While closing in a V shape to the rear a small “lifting” force can be felt. Unlike in the other kicks, the joints are moved into extrema. Before the kick the knee is maximally bent and the upper leg is rotating along its axis to its extreme outer position and the lower leg is twisted to extreme, at the end of the kick the ankles are maximally turned to the inside so that the soles clap together to achieve a nozzle effect like in a jelly fish. Therefore training involves getting flexible in addition to fitness and precision. The sudden sideway stress on knee at the kick can lead to uncomfortable noise and feeling for the beginner and to wear for the senior.


On recovery the lower leg stays in the wake of the upper leg. Around 2000 the distance between the knees in the recovery phase was reduced to harmonize it with the optional body undulation.


external image techniquebreaststroke_brs_img03.gifexternal image techniquebreaststroke_brs_img04.gifexternal image techniquebreaststroke_brs_img05.gif
Breathing

The best way to breath during breaststroke is to let your head follow your spine. When your elbows have reached the line of your eye and have begun to rise your head starts to lift. If you use your high elbows as a hinge for the inward sweep of your hands and forearms, you'll create the leverage you need to use your abdominal muscles to bring your hips forward. When your hips move forward, your chest, shoulders and upper back will automatically lift up. Breathing is usually done during the beginning of the insweep phase of the arms, and the swimmer breathes in ideally through the mouth. The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose during the recovery and gliding phase. Breaststroke can be swum faster if submerged completely, but FINA requires the head to break the surface once per cycle except for the first cycle after the start and each turn. Thus, competitive swimmers usually make one underwater pull-out, pushing the hands all the way to the back after the start and each turn. Some people keep their head above water at all times when they swim breaststroke. This is not only difficult and unpleasant, but also dangerous for the spine. Swimming with the face held out of the water puts undue strain on the muscles of the neck and back which can lead to damage of the spine’s interior facet joints.


Body movement

The movement starts in the initial position with the body completely straight, the body movement is coordinated such that the legs are ready for the thrust phase while the arms are halfway through the insweep, and the head is out of the water for breathing. In this position the body has also the largest angle to the horizontal. The arms are recovered during the thrust phase of the legs. After the stroke the body is kept in the initial position for some time to utilize the gliding phase. Depending on the distance and fitness the duration of this gliding phase varies. Usually the gliding phase is shorter during sprints than during long distance swimming. The gliding phase is also longer during the underwater stroke after the start and each turn.
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4. BUTTERFLY


The butterfly technique with the dolphin kick consists of synchronous arm movement with a synchronous leg kick. Good technique is crucial to swim this style effectively. The wave-like body movement is also very significant, as this is the key to easy synchronous over-water recovery and breathing.

Technique

In the initial position, the swimmer lies on the breast, the arms are stretched to the front, and the legs are extended to the back.


Arm movement

The butterfly stroke has three major parts, the pull, the push, and the recovery. These can also be further subdivided. From the initial position, the arm movement starts very similarly to the breast stroke. At the beginning the hands sink a little bit down with the palms facing outwards and slightly down at shoulder width, then the hands move out to create a Y. This is called catching the water. The pull movement follows a semicircle with the elbow higher than the hand and the hand pointing towards the body center and downward. The semicircle ends in front of the chin, with the hands close together so the swimmer can form a triangle with the fingers.
The push pushes the palm backward through the water underneath the body at the beginning and at the side of the body at the end of the push. The swimmer only pushes the arms 1/3 of the way to the hips, making it easier to enter into the recover and making the recovery shorter and making the breathing window shorter. The movement increases speed throughout the pull/push phase until the hand is the fastest at the end of the push. This step is called the release and is crucial for the recovery. The speed at the end of the push is used to help with the recovery.



external image techniquebutterfly_bf_front_01.gif external image techniquebutterfly_bf_front_02.gif external image techniquebutterfly_bf_front_03.gif



The recovery swings the arms sideways across the water surface to the front, with the elbows slightly higher than the hands and shoulders. The arms have to be swung forward fast in order to bring them to the front over the water. It is important not to enter the water too early, because this would generate extra resistance as the arms moved forward in the water against the swimming direction. A high elbow recovery, as in front crawl, would save more energy, yet the movement restrictions in the shoulders do not allow this easily, and due to the synchronized movement it is not possible to roll around the shoulders as in front crawl.
The arms enter the water with the thumbs first at shoulder width. A wider entry loses movement in the next pull phase, and a smaller entry, where the hands touch, wastes energy. After a brief rest the cycle repeats with the pull phase.
Generally, viewed from below, the arm movement forms a fat "keyhole" figure during the
stroke cycle in the water. However, more recently, a straighter arm pull has been favoured in competitive swimming.



external image techniquebutterfly_bf_under.gif


Leg movement

The leg movement is similar to the leg movement in the front crawl, except the legs are synchronized with each other. The shoulders are brought above the surface by a strong up and medium down kick, and back below the surface by a strong down and medium up kick. A smooth undulation fuse the motion together.


external image techniquebutterfly_bf_downbeat.gifThe feet are pressed together to avoid loss of water-pressure. The feet are naturally pointing downwards, giving downwards thrust, moving up the feet and pressing down the head.


There is no actual stipulation in competitive butterfly rules that a swimmer make a fixed number of pulses in butterfly–the swimmer may kick as little or as much as he or she may wish. While competitive rules allow such a choice, the typical method of swimming butterfly is with two kicks.


As butterfly originated as a variant on breaststroke, it would be performed with a breaststroke or whip kick by some swimmers. While breaststroke was separated from butterfly in 1953, the breaststroke kick in butterfly was not officially outlawed until 2001. However a number of Masters swimmers were upset with the change since they came from a time when butterfly was usually swum with a breaststroke kick. FINA was then convinced to allow a breaststroke kick in Masters swimming. Given the option, most swimmers choose to use a dolphin kicking action, but there still is a small minority of swimmers who prefer the breaststroke kick, for recreational swimming and even for competition.


Breathing

There is only a short window for breathing in the butterfly. If this window is missed, swimming becomes very difficult. Optimally, a butterfly swimmer synchronizes the taking of breaths with the undulation of the body to simplify the breathing process; doing this well requires some attention to butterfly stroke technique. The breathing process begins during the underwater "press" portion of the stroke. As the hands and forearms move underneath the chest, the body will naturally rise toward the surface of the water. With a minimum of effort, the swimmer can lift the head to break the surface fully. The swimmer breathes in through the mouth. Experienced swimmers continue looking toward the bottom of the pool while they inhale to keep the body balanced and in a straight line. The head goes back in the water after the arms come out of the water as they are swinging forward over the surface of the water. If the head stays out too long, the recovery is hindered. The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose till the next breath. Some swimmers, most notably Denis Pankratov, breathe to the side as in the front crawl, but their timing is otherwise the same. Such a style of breathing is quite uncommon though and generally discouraged by coaches.
Normally, a breath is taken every other stroke. This can be sustained over long distances. Oftentimes, breathing every stroke slows the swimmer down. (At a certain level, the stroke with a breath and the stroke without a breath become synonymous in their speed; therefore, very experienced competitors - such as Michael Phelps - may breath every stroke.) Other intervals of breathing practiced by elite swimmers include the "two up, one down" approach in which the swimmer breathes for two successive strokes and then keeps the head in the water on the next stroke, which is easier on the lungs. Swimmers with good lung capacity might also breathe every 3rd stroke during sprints or the finish. Some swimmers can even hold their breaths for an entire race (assuming that it is a short one).


Body movement

Swimming the arms or the legs separately is difficult, and correct body movement is great for the arms and legs to use their full potential. The body moves in a wave-like fashion, controlled by the arm movement. As the hands go in, the hips go up, and the posterior breaks the water surface. During the push phase the head goes up and the hips are at their lowest position. In this style, the second pulse in the cycle is stronger than the first pulse, as the second pulse is more in flow with the body movement.

Start

Butterfly uses the regular start for swimming. After the start a sliding phase follows under water, followed by dolphin kicks swum under water. Swimming under water reduces the drag from breaking the surface and is very economical. Rules allow for 15 m of underwater swimming, before the head must break the surface, and regular swimming begins.


Turn and fish

During turns and during the finish, both hands must simultaneously touch the wall while the swimmer remains swimming face down. The swimmer touches the wall with both hands while bending the elbows slightly. The bent elbows allow the swimmer to push himself or herself away from the wall and turn sideways. One hand leaves the wall to be moved to the front underwater. At the same time the legs are pulled closer and moved underneath of the body towards the wall. The second hand leaves the wall to be moved to the front over water. It is commonly referred to as an "over/under turn" or an "open turn." The legs touch the wall and the hands are at the front. The swimmer sinks under water and lays on the breast, or nearly so. Then the swimmer pushes off the wall, keeping a streamline position with the hands to the front. Similar to the start, the swimmer is allowed to swim 15m underwater before the head must break the surface. Most swimmers dolphin kick after an initial gliding phase.
The finish requires the swimmer to touch the wall with both hands at the same time, in the same horizontal plane.