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Learning Butterfly at 50 years of age


Hi Gary,

I have learnt both breaststroke and freestyle for recreational and health reasons since 2010. In fact, swimming is a very effective sport to cure my knee pain and arthritis.

I am 50 years old and have intention to learn butterfly. What is your advice and how should I do it progressively?



Hi Fong,

Congratulations on learning freestyle and breaststroke. Swimming is a great sport for many health and social reasons.

While butterfly looks difficult, there are some progressive drills you can do to learn butterfly.

To help you, I have provided a decription of the correct body position, arm action, leg action, breathing and timing at http://www.swimclub.com.au/resources/articles/coaches/butterfly_technique.htm.

On this page there are teaching progressions for the kick, the arms and the timing of the kick, arms and breathing.

There is also a great video with some more explanations.

The key to learning butterfly is to practice over short distances first.  Work on doing 4 arm strokes without a breath then stop.  Then practice the 4 strokes, doing two butterfly kicks for each stroke, one downward kick as the hands enter and one downward kick as your hands push back past your hips to your thighs.

Once you can do the four arm strokes with two kicks per stroke, it is time to learn when to breath.

As you do the second downward kick and your hands push back past your hips, your head turns up and forward so that your chin is at the water level and your face is clear of the water and looking forward. Take a big breath and then tuck your chin back down so your face looks back at the bottom of the pool.  Your face needs to be back into the water before your hands have done 70-80% of their recovery.

Hope this helps Fong, and please let me know how you go.


The Swimming Expert

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