BUTTERFLY - Underwater Dolphin

Nov 24, 2004
BUTTERFLY - Underwater Dolphin

The new universal movement, the underwater dolphin movement has become one of the most important skills in all of swimming. It is a move that can, and should be practiced off every wall, in every practice.

OK, now that I got you to click the "READ MORE" button and come to the full article, yes, you're correct, it shouldn't happen off the wall in breaststroke. However, the underwater dolphin movement certainly can be tied into breaststroke.

  Now, this won't be quite as in depth as you'll probaby want, as we've had a very short week, I wanted to put this drill up for a very special reason. The girls featured in this drill all had a fantastic State Championship swim meet last weekend. Two of the three girls are newly crowned State Champions, and the third finaled in breaststroke.

In a way, I wanted to make sure they all knew how proud we were of them, and their coaches deserve a lot of credit for taking them to this accomplishment. In case you don't know, our practice is NOT to name the swimmers, but their families know who they are, which is what's really important.

WHY DO IT: Butterfly, backstroke, freestyle walls ALL incorporate this movement and successfully mastering this can allow you travel faster than you can swim.


1) You have an option for the hands in this. While it's suggested that you regularly practice a streamline position off every wall, sometimes, too tight of a streamline can cause you to lock up. By practicing, find out if you're flexible enough through the shoulders to be flexible enough through your body to allow enough movement. Your decision comes with the hands continue in that streamline position, or are allowed to separate just a bit to allow for more freedom of movement through the body.

2) While the focus isn't really on how hard you can kick your legs, don't just let them float behind you. You'll initiate the kick with the upper body, and allow the power to generate through your hips, and then SNAP your feet down.

3) As always, you'll be focusing on sending your energy forward, and not up and down. Make sure you're not trying to snake through the water, but rather, drive the hands to the other end. If you do this correctly, you may even feel some stretch under the armpits during the power phase of the kick.

4) As you'll notice with the swimmer in green, being tilted just a bit to your side has it's advantages as well. It may take some getting used to, but staying off your stomach is a more effective way to slip through the water. It will allow for more flexibility in the body, as everything just works better that way. (yeah, yeah, gravity, water pressure, etc., it's so much easier just saying "try it" then going through lengthy explanations).

5) Experiment with the correct rhythm for you. Sometimes more effort doesn't pay dividends. Try a smaller, quicker motion, and then a larger, slower one. Figure out which one works best for you, and which one gives you the most speed with the least effort.

How To Do It Really Well - The Fine Points

Really, the way to learn this is to practice it all the time. You can begin by incorporating one or two extra dolphin kicks into each flip turn, both from and back. When you leave the wall, develop the habit of NOT beginning your stroke until you've added a couple dolphin kicks. While you're at this higher rate of speed, you'll also be able to figure out where you're holding yourself back. Don't just think about generating the power, also focus on where you feel yourself fighting the water.

Of the three girls you see here, one of them won the 100 fly at her state meet. Upon seeing this video again, we can all see that even though these girls are all doing a fine job, there is still some work to be done (sorry, can't help coaching them, they're all friends).

You know what that means though don't you? THIS WAS JUST THE BEGINNING! Heck, State Champ and STILL have improving to do. How COOL is THAT?

We're very proud of all three of you. Congrats from your friends at Go Swim!

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