“Pull, Breathe, Arms-over, Dive (Shoulders), Kick, Long”

Introduction to Butterfly

Some teachers say ‘forget the legs’, others ‘forget the arms.’ It depends rather on how advanced they are. For beginning emphasis on the kick and flude, snaking movement through the water. Then add the arms.

Once they are swimming fly and have the arm stroke telling them to ‘forget the legs’ can improve the timing of the kick.

On the Side of the Pool

Fig. 1 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Take swimmers through the dolphin kick: from the hips.

Fig. 2 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Demonstrate the kick action from the hips, then have them do the same in the water.

  • Hips back and forwards to kick like a dolphin or merman.

Beth Ross’s Fly Arms sequence

Lie on the side of the pool head over the edge.

  • Hands at side.
    • 1. Flick wrist
    • 2. Raise arm
    • 3. Bring arm over.
    • 4. Repeat

Dolphin resting on lane rope. Legs pointing straight down … as they have done poolside.

Kicking

  • Kick with Woggle: with arms out.
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Back (KOB
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Side (KOS)

Drills

  • Single arm fly.
  • 1+1+1 one right, one left, fullstroke.

G4 did a dive into fly with four kicks to the pull, counting out 4 kicks with 5th the arms in, and 6th the arm pull.

Dead swimmer (From ‘The Swim Drill Book’)

Then from the streamlined position then dolphin kick into FC shallow end and deep, on the ‘T’ or under the flags.

Part: Arms

  • Single Arm 6 kicks to one pull

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

“Kick the hand in, Kick the hand out”

Focus points : Timing of breathing/Rhythm

Whole: Full Stroke

  • From a dive.

Focus points : Hand entry position/Body movement and undulation

Turns : Transition into stroke.

Focus point : No breathing first stroke

Fun Activities

  • Bounce from a pencil jump
  • ‘Sea Otter’
  • Handstands
  • Somersaults
  • Mushroom float
  • Sitting/Lying on the bottom of the pool

T1 Sunday 3rd May 2015

Our club top ‘training group’ – these are competitive standard swimmers who want to train but cannot commit to the more rigours demands of the squad training 8 hours or more per week. Swimming for fitness with occasional club competitions.

WARM UP
200 FC Drill/Smooth Reducing stroke count Sub-Total 200m <4 mins
MAIN SET Focus – long, streamlined transitions off
4 x 100 as 25 Fly 75 FC 2:00
3 x 100 as 25 Fly  75 BC 2:30
2 x 100 as 25 Fly 75 BR 2:15
1 x 100 as 25 FLY 75 CH
Sub-Total 1000m <24 mins
20 x 50 as off
1-4 1-4     FC Max 00:50
5-8 FC Breath every 5 strokes 01:00
9-12 BC Max 01:10
13-16 BC K 01:30
17-20 Choice 01:00
Sub-Total 1000m <24 mins

Swim Down

1 x 200m Choice Sub-Total 200m <4 mins
Totals Distance Duration
2.4k >56<60 mins

 

Introduction to Butterfly. Our Grades 4-6 (NPTS 6-10)

“Pull, Breathe, Arms-over, Dive (Shoulders), Kick, Long”

On the Side of the Pool

Fig. 1 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Take swimmers through the dolphin kick: from the hips.

Fig. 2 Dolphin Kick from ‘The Swimming Drill Book’  Ruben Guzman part 22

Demonstrate the kick action from the hips, then have them do the same.

  • Hips back and forwards to kick like a dolphin or merman.

Beth Ross’s Fly Arms sequence

Lie on the side of the pool head over the edge.

Hands at side.

1. Flick wrist

2. Raise arm

3. Bring arm over.

4. Repeat

Dolphin resting on lane rope. Legs pointing straight down … as they have done poolside.

Part I: Kicking

  • Kick with Woggle: with arms out.
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Back (KOB
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Front (KOF)
  • 1 x 25m Kick on Side (KOS)

Drills

  • Single arm fly.
  • 1+1+1 one right, one left, fullstroke.

G4 did a dive into fly with four kicks to the pull, counting out 4 kicks with 5th the arms in, and 6th the arm pull.

Dead swimmer (From ‘The Swim Drill Book’)  into streamlined position then dolphin kick into FC shallow end and deep, on the ‘T’ or under the flags.

Part: Arms

  • Single Arm 6 kicks to one pull

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

“Kick the hand in, Kick the hand out”

Focus points : Timing of breathing/Rhythm

Whole: Full Stroke

From a dive.

Focus points : Hand entry position/Body movement and undulation

Turns : Transition into stroke.

Focus point : No breathing first stroke

Fun Activities

Bounce from a pencil jump

‘Sea Otter’

Handstands

Somersaults

Mushroom float

Sitting/Lying on the bottom of the pool

Butterfly for 8-11 year olds G4, G5 (with some G8 adjustments)

From Swimming

Fig.1. Make like a dolphin

My old mentor and senior coach, Beth, had some magic ways of teaching swimming. With butterfly it is all in the legs – get those right first before adding anything else. We’d then have, where space permitted, part of the lesson on mats around the side of the pool in order to demonstrate, run through and correct the arm stroke which swimmers new to butterfly invariably get wrong. For this session, for me, the emphasis is on the legs and the kick coming from the hips while introducing arms through skills, particularly single arm.

At this level, in fact through all teaching grades, we have two goals: develop skills so that technique is perfected, try to improve stamina and strength, although this can only really be achieved by swimmers attending two or even three lessons a week. Tough clubs will have kids spending a good deal of time kicking up and down the pool on the basis that getting leg strength first delivers body position later; this is a recipe surely for putting kids off? It’s all I remember from the first couple of years when I went to a swim school, kicking back and forth across widths: whilst it did the trick with me when I was five or six, it put many off swimming.

Today I started with streamlining against the side of the pool – before they got wet.

I ran through streamlined position, and then the way in which the fly kick starts by pushing the hips back and forth. Some feel awkward, some have a laugh. Repeat this once in the water where they should feel less self-conscious. It is such an easy thing for the kids to get right: pushing off and gliding in a streamlined position even at Grade 4; it is also a pleasure to see several of them getting into this habit early and still doing it years later. It pays dividends for all strokes with body position, with dives and turns.  It also ties directly into drills and exercises moving a competitive dive and at higher grades improving the dive and all important transition.

After this rough programme for our Grades 4 and 5 swimmers (ages 9-11, one or two years swimming) I make suggestions for a group of G8 swimmers, typically our more advances 12-13 year olds.

(I’d love to be able to show the swimmers a six second clip of a dolphin ‘in flight’. The above is my photo; I shot some video too. The trick and worry is bringing an iPad to the pool. I recently dropped my iPhone into a puddle of water in the bottom of a RIB while out on safety duties with the sailing club … and scrambled it. A very expensive morning volunteering … )

(Sense says a laminated print out. I am happy to show black and white images on a Kindle, especially my old Kindle. Not waterproof, but not too great a loss if it ended up in the pool.

One day will we have smart screens by the side of the pool?)

PRE-POOL
Steamlined positionStanding dolphin: bum back, bum forwardArm action for Butterfly (separate session)

I am guided, as always, by Rubin Guzman’s brilliant ‘Swim Drills Book’.

WARM UP

With emphasis on the dolphin kick pushing off the wall in both strokes

FC x 50m or 100m depending on the grade.

BC (as above)

The less they splash, the smoother they swim; the smoother they swim, the more control they have. I use words like ‘smooth, slinky, silent swimming.

MAIN SET

Dolphin kick up and down the pool

Dolphin resting on lane rope.

With fins is best, but still works to have three at a time rest arms on the lane rope in the deep end, feet pointing down then doing a dolphin kick. (Only three at a time resting their arms on the lane rope or you risk annoying the lifeguard especially if swimmers decide to climb onto the rope)

Kick with Woggle: with arms out, this is OK on the back.

With G8 fly kick on your side, change arm every 25m. This worked very well at identifying how most still kick from the knees rather than through the entire body. I only did this with Grade 8 today, but on reflection would have done it with the other grades too as it is the clearest way to see that swimmers are still kicking from the knee, or not. I may even get a swimmer or two out of the water to walk the length of the pool checking out those who are getting it right and swimming like an eel, or a crocodile compared to those kicking only from the knee.

Sea Otter

A fun one ‘collecting mussels from the bottom of the pool’ – with a fly kick.

Single arm fly:

Still oo tricky at this level, but getting a straight arm recovery is so important.

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

Kick that hand in, Kick the hand out

IDEALLY you find a swimmer from a top group who can demonstrate this, occasionally a swimmer does it beautifully so you can show the others.

DIVING

Dive and glide

Add a dolphin kick

END

Depending on the time left I will use the last minute or 30 seconds with a handstand, aiming at the streamlined position – again. So long legs and pointy toes.

 G8

These swimmers are reaching the stage when they will move to a training group (a non-competitive teenage squad) with the younger stars at this level going into a competitive squad. They’ve typically been with the club for three years or so and should have all the skills in place. Despite this none can swim butterfly which suggests we’re still struggling to teach this. I don’t think how we teach it has everything to do with it, it’s more that case that the serious junior swimmer will be in the pool for lessons at least twice, sometimes three times a week.

The changes to the above set were on the distances swam and the kinds of drills given.

The warm up was 100m swims, the kick sets 2 x 50m.

The drills had an element of endurance:

And longer working on single arm drills which then became

8 kicks 1 pull: count 8 kicks with 9 the arms go in and 10 the arms recover.

4 kicks 1 pull: count 4 kicks with 5 the arms go in and 6 they arms recover

As well as combinations of the single arm drill:

1+1+2 = single arm, other single arm, both together

2+2+2 = two single arm on one side, two single arm on the other side, then both arms together

Fly Kick on the side swapping arm after 25m worked very well.

In the space of six 25m lengths of this, walking along the side of the pool, I could spot immediately the problem and fix across the board. Pushing the bum forward and the bum back is just the start of this, then its a case of getting them to instigate the kick from the head or even the arms.

Finally, putting the whole stroke together at the end I was delighted that one of them just about cracked butterfly, while all showed improvement. All they need is a second lesson this week on butterfly before they move onto a different stroke next week.

Masters IM

I haven’t trained in ten years and when I was doing so it was distance swims for Triathlon Relays and charity swims. I haven’t trained with a club for over thirty years. My return t club swimming, with the Masters at Mid-Sussex Marlins SC has been a gentle affair unitl now, not helped by a three week break I join today and have to do a sessions that takes in all strokes, including kciking for fly, back, breast and front. I give it my best shot and struggle.

As a swimming teacher and coach I hear my own voice trying to get the technique right; I also have informed instruction from the coach which feels as if I am being bent double, insome parts my stroke has been doing the wring thing for decades: raising the arms too high during front crawl, failing to bring the feet together in breaststroke and bending my arm ahead of the entry in backstroke. It iis therefore with surorise and delight when I recieve praise for my butterfly, a stroke I have not attempted in decades. Once agai I hear the instructions I give to 7 to 11 year olds aout kciking fromthe hip and turning the hand upwards on the recovering, enter the hand at shoulder width and accelerate back to the ‘pockets’ with a flick. It works. Though in my very unfit state I don’t even manage a length, 20m at a time in four bursts is all that I do.

Exhausted, my heart racing (I check) and out if breath I finish early. I need to be in the water during the week too, possiblly three swims a week to crack it.

Butterfly – Grade 5

Fly has to be taught. More than any other stroke it should be introduced over a number of teerms/grades with emphasis on the fluid kick from the hips before adding the arms.

Warm Up
3x50m FC with increasing emphasis on the legs during the transition so that the fly kick becomes something they do a good deal of in all sessions.
12x25m
Dolphin Kick : bum back, bum forward x 2.
Resting on the lane ropes with legs straight down doing a dolphin.
Fly kick with Woggle held out with extended arms.
Otter to the bottom of the pool using fly kick.
Bounce to the deep end in streamlined position.
Fly kick on back with arms raised in streamlined position.
Fly kick on alternate sides, arms raised
Fly kick with BR arms.
Fly kick with single arm.
Dive and glide
Glide with extended dolphin kick
Dive practice:
Jump
Jump with topple
Dive with topple and glide
Full length of Fly
Shallow end final minutes:
Hand stand with long legs and pointed toes
Forward somersault
Mushroom float
Sitting/lying on the bottom of the pool.

The response was mixed. The only swimmer who has fly (they are 8-11, our grade 5, ASA NPTS 7) was away. I was very happy with the kick though with several showing the right progress, fluidity and confidence with the kick.

Introducing Butterfly to 8 and 9 year olds

Butterfly

Three groups of Grade 5 Swimmers (NPS Grade 7/8)

The introduction of Butterfly takes time. I have learnt to concentrate on the correct leg kick, initiated in the hits though running from the chin to the toes, before tackling the arms. I certainly see little purpose in introducing the full-stroke for more than a few moments and only once all the parts of the stroke have been introduced and worked on.

I have ages ranging from 8 to 11, with three competent swimmers while the fourth struggles. It is a shame when someone lacks fluidity, who is uncomfortable, even ungainly in water. Ideally such a swimmer ought to be doing a programme that develops confidence through fun. It is always apparent when someone is confident in water, better still, as with a couple of these swimmers, when they clearly feel joy at being in water.

The plan I run to for this grade and age on Butterfly is typically:


A warm up of 2 x 5m Front Crawl, asking for ‘long legs, smooth arms’. Followed by something similar on Back Crawl, asking for ‘steady leg kick, straight arm recovery’.

I then get them out of the water (perhaps better to do this before they get wet, which I did with one group).

Have them against the wall, ankles to the wall, bum to the wall, shoulder blades and head to the wall, then stretch into the streamlined position. I will bring the head forward and invite them to see if by stretching they can make their elbows touch (possible only with the most flexible). I don’t push for the impossible, but rather emphasize (as they are told all the time) the important of streamlining.

(See the Ruben Guzman images in ‘The Swimming Drill Book).


They then step away from the wall and rest their hands at their sides. I invite them to imagine they are wearing a fish tail. I will physically role-play putting on such a thing, over my toes, the ankles together, up to the knees, also together and up to the navel. Some will copy, on reflection I’d get them all to do this and then hop around a bit). Next, to make this tail work they have to move the hips back, then forwards. The point is made that fish do not have knees. We run through this a few times, then they get into the water.

Ideally the swimmers have short fins on. In the deep end an introductory exercise is to have them rest their arms on the lane rope, feet pointing straight down and to do the ‘butterfly wiggle’ trying to gain some purchase on the water in the upright position (far easier with fins on). They are then challenged to do this first away from the lane rope and then with arms raised. From this we go into the kick in the horizontal position.

Whist kicking with a stiff float is potentially painful for the lower back, using a noodle, with outstretched arms offers enough flexibility to do 4 x25 fly kick, perhaps with some of it on the back. As they swim up the pool I will repeat something like ‘bum back, bum forward’ or ‘imagine you are a mermaid,’ or ‘imagine you are wearing flippers’. No surprises that the boys prefer to be dolphins.

From this we go into ‘dolphin’ with the hands at the side, raising the chin to breath, and then jamming to chin in to go down. This might be tied into ‘sea otter’ the game whereby they play being otters, or mermaids, swimming to the bottom of the pool for either oysters or pearls They have to do a butterfly kick throughout. The next step is to do the kick on the surface, ‘stitching’ through the water raising the head with a kick and ducking the head down with a kick.

Then a single arm pull, with emphasis on the straight arm recovery. This can take quite a while to get right, may require a short session on the poolside and usually works best if they are encouraged to turn their head and watch the arm describe an arc through the air. They are also encouraged to think about ‘kicking the hand in’ and ‘kicking he hand out’.

To get them up to the deep end ahead of diving practice I may have them get into the streamlined position then bounced along the black line from one end of the pool to the other. It’s a break, and fun and of value as a drill for diving and streamlining, even controlling breathing.

Diving practice here uses the butterfly kick, so a dive a glide, followed by a dive, 2 second glide then six fly kicks, then 2 second glide, 2 kicks and 2 full arms strokes before swimming out the 25m on Front Crawl. After this, I may ask them to do a 25m of full stroke FLY but only if I am confident they will be able to give it a realistic shot. In my first group one swimmer executed a delightfully fluid and effective 25m of Fly. Most bend the knees and drop the body then struggle to get their arms out of the water.

With a minute or so left they might quickly run through:

• A handstand with pointed toes
• A mushroom float
• ‘Dead swimmer’ straightening out into the streamlined position
• Somersaults.

With a little variation this is repeated with the three groups I take in the morning. They are all aged 8-11. Some are more able than others, with one or two struggling with coordination to such a degree you wonder if they’ll ever get it: all do, if they stick with it. Sadly only one of the swimmers in the three groups swims more than once a week. This, not surprisingly, makes a huge difference, as in any one week they will repeat similar drills, with a different teacher, who may introduce an idea or approach that makes more sense to them.