Butterfly

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????There is a view that butterfly is a very difficult, exhausting stroke, but this need not be so.

I learned to swim butterfly using the Shaw Method and from being completely unable to swim this stroke I can now manage several lengths.

Remember the key part of any stroke is the glide. In butterfly you glide as you bring your arms over your head and your body is moving forward and slightly upwards through the water.

Important points:

  • the key to a good smooth butterfly is the undulation
  • leading from the head, and keeping the feet together you need to ripple through the water using a dolphin kick
  • the ratio of kicks to arm movements is two to one, so two kicks to one arm movement
  • count one, two and on the second kick open the arms out slowly, like unfolding your wings and bring them forwards together in front of you
  • let your head follow the movement of your arms and body
  • breathe every other stroke
  • swim slowly and evenly and you will soon build up stamina and rhythm.

Shaw Method butterfly in action click here

Front crawl

One of the most common requests I get is from people who can swim but can’t swim front crawl, or think they can’t. In fact front crawl is an easy, relaxing and calming stroke if done proplerly. I often see people, I am afraid to say, especially men, swimming a wild thrashing kind of front crawl. They are using a lot of energy, making a lot of splash, but not travelling very fast. Or they may be able to travel fast for a short while and then collapse exhausted at the end of a length. This is inefficient and unnecessary.

As with all swimming strokes the key is to let the water do most of the work. First of all you must find a good balance in the water. A gentle leg kick is all you need. In fact it is perfectly possible to swim a reasonable front crawl without kicking your legs at all. You should kick from the hips, not the knees and the kick should be gentle, a flutter rather than a big scissor kick.

Look straight down at floor of the pool, keep your neck long.

As you reach forward with each stroke let your body rotate keeping the head still.

Feel the glide on each stroke, listen to the water.

Roll out to breathe, letting your head turn to the side. Don’t lift the head. Imagine you are breathing from your core. Get the feeling of turning your lungs to the air, not your head.

Try to make sure your left arm stays on the left side of your body, and the right arm stays on the right side. Don’t let your arms cross over in front of you.

Breathe out gently under the water so that you are ready to breathe in as you turn.

Keep the stroke slow, steady and relaxed. As your stroke becomes more efficient you will get faster.

Feel the rhythm of the stroke. Sing to yourself if it helps.

Watch this beautiful stroke.

Shaw Method

I trained with Steven Shaw at Art of Swimming as a Shaw Method teacher at the same time as I was studying for my Amateur Swimming Association level two qualification. Shaw Method is a gentle approach to swimming without strain or stress. It is based on the Alexander Technique

This is what Steven Shaw’s company The Art of Swimming says about the Shaw Method.

Shaw Method applies the principles of  Alexander Technique to swimming. Alexander Technique will teach you to use your body and mind without strain. Put simply, this is what Shaw Method also seeks to achieve, in the water.

Shaw Method teaches greater body awareness, strengthens the relationship between mind and body, promotes freedom of movement, and helps to prevent strain and injury.

I loved the training it was innovative and inspirational. It transformed my own swimming and now when I am swimming in the people often comment on the smoothness and ease of my stroke. I also learned to swim butterfly for the first time in my life. I discovered that using the Shaw Method approach butterfly can be a smooth elegant relaxing stroke.