Butterfly. The stroke choice of the superhuman!

Elite Team
Written by: Elizabeth Byrnes at 19 January '15 0
You are reading: Butterfly. The stroke choice of the superhuman!

I’ve seen a horse fly. I’ve seen a dragon fly. I’ve seen a house fly. But I’ve never seen an elephant fly.

So go the lyrics from Disney favourite Dumbo.

However, in the pool we have most definitely seen butterfly!

From the dashing sprinters through to the gruelling 200m. The superhuman effort required through the final metres to maintain position in the water, stretching every sinew. The pain and pressure of feeling there is a piano on your back.

Arena’s very own Chad le Clos is the current world champion in both long and short-course over 100m and 200m.

It was at the Olympics in London in 2012 that the then 20-year-old seared himself on to the world’s consciousness by beating the 22-time Olympic medallist Michael Phelps in the American’s final 200m butterfly.

Chad edged his idol out by 0.05 seconds, timing his finish to perfection sparking unbridled celebrations from his father Bert as well as tears on the podium.

The pair may well meet again in Rio de Janeiro following Phelps’ return to the pool and Chad admits he was inspired by his rival to swim butterfly as a youngster.

“Every stroke has its charm. Butterfly for me feels like it’s the hardest race. It almost feels like the 400m hurdles of the track, that kind of race. The tough race you have got to grind out.

“I wouldn’t say that it why I chose butterfly. It was Michael Phelps who made me want to swim butterfly.

“And it has all come together.”

Sarah Sjostrom is a multi-tasker. It is both butterfly and freestyle for the Swede.

She has two long-course world titles – both in the 100m fly – as well as a silver in the 100m free.

Last summer she won European golds in the 50m butterfly as well as the 100m free and sprint freestyle relay.

However, her first love is the butterfly.

“I always see myself as a butterfly swimmer because when I am in a freestyle race I always think I am going to forget how to swim when I dive in.

“Butterfly is like I go in and know what to do. Freestyle is more like – how do you do this again?”

It came naturally for the 21-year-old as a youngster. “I learned to swim butterfly very quickly. After watching my friend swim butterfly, I tried myself and it wasn’t bad for the first time.

“When I was younger I didn’t swim any specific event in competition but from the age of 11 I started to improve a lot! My rhythm and technique was amazing.”



Written by:

Elizabeth Byrnes

Liz swam with a local club in Sheffield, England, as a child before retiring at the grand old age of 12. Her lifelong love of the water, combined with a passion for travel, has seen Liz plunge into pools across the world. Liz spent 12 years with the Press Association reporting on swimming and athletics at Olympic and World level but is now fulfilling a dream as a freelance writer. When not in or around the water, she can be found hiking, running and cycling.