How to do the Butterfly Technique (Swimming)

We have Jae to teach us about butterfly stroke this week!

Have you ever wanted to become better at swimming? Do YOU want to learn new techniques that you’ve wanted to try, but don’t have the courage to? Well, keep reading as you’ll learn a brand new style of swimming: the ‘butterfly’ technique!

This stroke is known to be one of the newest swimming styles to be swum in competitions, as well as being originated from the ‘breaststroke’. However, it is also known to be one of the difficult styles to be swum with due to it requires more muscles than you think! Practicing this technique will give you a step further to achieve your goals in swimming!

Take a look at my explanation of how to do this technique!

Body Position

During the stroke, your body has to undulate (move or go with a smooth up-and-down motion); the order will go from the head, to your chest, to the hips, and to your feet. Another objective you have to focus on is keeping your body as close as possible to the surface to the water: this presumably will give you an advantage to swim more quickly to the other side. Gliding from the edge will follow before our body is led to do the stroke by the crown (top) of our head with your shoulders and hips horizontal.

Arm Action

During each breath, the arms should stretch out in front of the body above the water surface; the arms are then led into the water by the thumb. The hands should enter about shoulder width apart with elbows bent and slightly higher than the hands. When your hands sweep down underneath the surface of the water, your body should form a Y shape in front of the body. Remember to keep your elbows high during this part, as you have to turn and sweep your hands back in towards each other. You then turn your hands up and back, then you sweep parallel to the sides of your body; this is when the cycle happens repeats until you reach the other edge. However, an aggressive feeling is sensed when stretching the arms back out when in front of you to re-enter. In order to stop this from happening, maintain your arms out of the water, but prevent your hips from descending down – remember, practice makes perfect!

Leg Action

When it comes to the legs, the heels and soles of your feet have to ‘break’ the surface of the water from underneath as your feet are slightly bent on the upbeat (possibly when you pull your arms close to your chest or stretching your arms out to pull). Using this, you have to perform powerful downbeats of the feet on the surface: this will propel you forward – the more closer and tighter your legs are, and the more relaxed your ankles are, the more strength you use to launch yourself forwards instantly. As your arms ascend out of the water, you should at least kick twice using your ‘dolphin legs’; one will be used as you propel your arms out for recovery and the other will happen as the arms enter the surface.


During the stroke, breathing is required at the front of your body as well as it being lead at the same time as the arms, just like the ‘breaststroke’ technique. Your chin has to be in front of your forehead when gasping for air. After inhaling the air through your mouse and nose, quickly lower you head down in the water. The head will also have to drop down before the arms. Exhalation comes after the final upsweep in the water and inhalation; which is when your arms recover. Breathing cycles used when swimming are:

  • Breathing once every two arm cycles (most common one used)
  • Breathing once every arm cycle (competitive swimmers – longer races)
  • Breathing once every three arm cycles (competitive swimmers – shorter races)
  • Breathing twice every three arm cycles (another common technique)

What swimming technique would you like to try? Which are you interested in? Comment below!


  1. I find butterfly stroke really hard and this helped me understand it more.
    Do you find butterfly stroke hard?

  2. Thank you Jae, this really helped me to understand how to do the butterfly technique and know I can learn how to do it.

    Can you do the “butterfly technique?”

  3. Thank you Jae, this really deepened my understanding in swimming and helped me with my butterfly stroke! Can you do the butterfly stroke too?

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