Butterfly Breakouts: Think Out, Not Up



We say it all the time in these articles, but I think it bears repeating: There is no single “right” way to do things when it comes to swimming technique. We also talk a lot about the importance of good body line and positioning. With these things in mind, the following are some of my observations about butterfly breakouts.


Some coaches argue that the hips should be the first part of the body to break the surface on a butterfly breakout. In this position, the swimmer is set up for his or her first stroke with their chest pressed down (picture A). Other coaches argue that the head should be the first thing to break the surface. This positions the swimmer to finish his or her first stroke with a strong down kick as they begin the recovery (picture B).

Butterfly Breakout.









Picture A


Butterfly Breakout, photo B







Picture B


Even among the best butterfliers in the world, there is a fairly even split between the head-first approach and the hips-first approach. Based on the video I have watched, I would argue that the only difference between the two approaches is the timing of the first cycle. In picture A you can see the swimmer is still streamlined when her hips break the surface. However, the swimmer in picture B has already started his first stroke as his head breaks the surface.

So what does it all mean? It means that regardless of whether your hips or your head break the surface first, your focus should be on maintaining a shallow approach angle and moving forward through the surface rather than moving up through the surface. This will allow you to keep a good body line and transition into your first strokes while maintaining your underwater momentum. In simpler terms, think about breaking out, not popping up.