The Missing Link in Your Butterfly!

All – welcome back! Holy cow, it’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. I’ve had a crazy start to 2021, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. I have a ton of thoughts on our next series, but concluded on the missing link in Butterfly as we head into our Championship Season!

Let’s Get Started!

One of the main things I see with my age-groupers is their inability to connect the Butterfly Stroke. We all know Butterfly is hard. Heck, even USA Swimming tried to come in and change the viewpoint around how coaches ‘train’ Butterfly starting with their USA Swimming Butterfly Revolution Facebook Group, but we all know the mindset is so much more than that.

To swim Fly well, you have to be coordinated, strong, and understand the rhythm and timing – but what do you do when most of your swimmers don’t get that? Well, you head straight back to your drawing board.

Recently, I watched a Coaches Corner Episode from Fitter & Faster Swim Clinics where Mike Murray interviewed Jonty Skinner about his thoughts on all the 4 strokes. Jonty has left quite a legacy in the swimming world with his ability to teach and correct technique, so I was super excited for the opportunity to learn from him – especially surrounding the question I posed above.

One of the main things Jonty talked about in regards to Fly was helping your swimmers learn the ‘flow’ of the stroke, or essentially the timing of how the mechanics come together. He talked a lot about developing the foundation of the Fly stroke to your swimmers so they understand how the body parts link together – BEFORE – having your kids swim lap after lap Butterfly.

So, what did I do?

I got to work. I immediately started testing my kids ability to undulate with their hands at their sides, up at the 11 position, on their backs, and more!

I also introduced my kids to the Underwater Press Drill that Jonty presented to help them their more how the undulation happens in conjunction with the arm sweep. This drill really help my kids understand the foundation of where the undulation starts and how it connects the stroke to begin with!

See the Underwater Press Below:

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What Has This Done For My Swimmers?

I stood at the side of the pool, and watched some of them with late breaths or incorrect kick timing start to understand, where in the stroke, both of those things should happen. If we kept the press and added in the Pull – there was only two logical places to place the kicks: at the top and the bottom, and my kids felt it!

Same thing happened with the Late Breathers – they started to understand how keeping the head up too long didn’t get them get into that initial wave, but instead into more a snow plow position. And no one enjoys swimming like that!


By us backing up what it means to ‘swim’ Butterfly in my group, I watched plenty of my kid’s attitude change towards the stroke itself. We still include sets that may have each kid take 4 BEAUTIFUL strokes off the wall Fly, but then the rest of the way FR again – to which they repeat each lap. But, we now spend a lot more time developing the FLOW and FOUNDATION of the Butterfly stroke.

I now watch my kids swim Fly easier, and enjoy the stroke itself more, and I think that’s exactly what USA Swimming was trying to change too. Your missing link in Butterfly is NOT because you’re not training enough of it – it’s because your flow is off. You don’t have to swim lap after lap Fly to be FAST – you need to develop the proper rhythm to ‘enjoy the ride’ – because hey, it’s Swimming Time!

Now, that was a good one.


Abbie Fish

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