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4. Fundamentals – Breaststroke & Butterfly


The breaststroke is another popular form of swimming. This stroke requires you to move your arms in half-circular movements while the legs whip kick. Some describe this motion as a frog-like swimming stroke, and it is appealing to those beginning because one’s head is out of the water a larger percentage of the time. However, in order to be competitive, some may argue this stroke requires significantly more fine-tuning than the freestyle stroke.

To perform the breaststroke:

  • Body Position: Keep you body flat and lie facing down in the water. Your head should follow your hands into the pool.
  • Arm Movement: Your arms should mirror each other as they move.
    • Outsweep: Catch and scull palms out. This is when you want to bring your head out of the water to breath.
    • Insweep: Bring you arms to your chest and keep them out in front of the chest. This is when you also bring your heels to your butt to start kicking.
    • Recovery: Kick your arms out and glide. You should pause with your arms outstretched in a streamline position during your glide.
  • Leg Action:
    • Keep your knees together and bring your helps yo towards your butt.
    • Turn your ankle out
    • Bring both your legs around and together, and glide with your toes pointed.
    • Keep your kick as narrow as possible.
  • Breathing: Your breath should be completed and head should be entering the water by the start of your insweep.

Watch the instructional video below by former UGA & Olympic Swimming Coach Jack Bauerle about tips on how to perform the breaststroke. 



The butterfly stroke has the most unique style due to its symmetrical arm movement accompanied by a dolphin kick. The butterfly stroke is arguably the hardest to perform, and it requires the most fine-tuned technique and strength. In the butterfly stroke, you are kicking in the way that a mermaid or dolphin would. When swimming with multiple people in a lane, use only your right arm (keeping your left straight), until you pass others and have the entire lane to complete the full two-arm stroke.

To perform the butterfly:

  • Body Position: Try and keep your body as close to the surface of the water as possible. Try and make sure you keep your head down and your chin to your chest.
  • Arm Movement:
    • Catch: Your arms should be extended in front of your body and led into the water by the thumb. Be sure to press down and out at the same time.
    • Pull:  Your hands should be pulled towards your body in an hour glass motion, out-in-out. Keep your elbows higher than your hands.
    • Recovery: Once your hands reach your thigh, simultaneously sweep with arms over the water and accelerate them forwards, returning to the start position.
  • Leg Action: Your legs kick simultaneously with a powerful and more distinct knee bend, commonly referred to as the dolphin kick.
  • Breathing: The most common breathing technique is to the front. Use your shoulders to lead your head out of the water and inhale quickly through your mouth.

Watch the instructional video below by former UGA & Olympic Swimming Coach Jack Bauerle about tips on how to perform the butterfly.


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