Presenting the butterfly start

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 22 May '15 0
You are reading: Presenting the butterfly start

Level: beginner

The butterfly style is usually the last stroke you are taught, because it requires strength, endurance and smooth movements, all qualities that you should have developed while learning the other swim strokes. “Well begun is half done”, so the saying goes, so let’s see how we can learn the butterfly start.

For the butterfly you dive forwards off the starting block at the edge of the pool.

After issuing the command “take your mark”, the starter will give the signal to “GO”. There are then two techniques you can use for diving in: the Grab-Start or Track-Start.


With this technique your feet are parallel, shoulder’s width apart, at the front edge of the block.

Your hands, which are placed between your feet, grab hold of the edge of the block; your knees should be slightly bent so that you can push off strongly with your legs.

When you hear the command “go”, extend your body forwards and push backwards with your feet against the starting block. Your arms should thrust forward beneath your chest, bending your elbows so that you can begin to raise your head as if you were looking down towards the other end of the pool before returning it to its position between your shoulders. Your arms stop moving when they are pointed diagonally downwards and they are the first part of your body to enter the water.


With this second technique, on the other hand, your feet are in line, one in front of the other; one foot is at the front edge of the block and the other is approximately 25-30 cm behind it.

The word “track” is used because your feet are literally in a line.

It is easy to choose which leg should be at the front: turn your back towards a friend and relax with your feet close together; get your friend to push you forwards and see which leg steps forward first.

That will be your support (front) leg and the other will be your push off (rear) leg; your weight should always be slightly on your rear leg.

Your hands should be shoulder’s width apart and your fingers should be wrapped around the front of the block. When you hear the command “GO”, as well as pushing off your legs , pull up and slightly back against the front of the block with your hands before thrusting them forwards beneath your chest.

In both cases your body should be perfectly in line when entering the water (arms-head-chest-legs) and you should kick with your legs as fast as you can until you feel as if you are swimming as fast underwater as you would above the water (or so it seems).

Make a butterfly stroke with your arms and, without breathing, come up out of the water  and start swimming.

Diving in is an extremely exciting moment because it is like flying, so why not practice it as much as you can?


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arena coaches

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