Swimming Butterfly Rules
If you ask a swimmer what the most difficult stroke to swim is, they’ll almost always say butterfly. This answer is so common because of the extra energy it takes to correctly swim this stroke over any distance, let alone more than 50 meters. But, if you ask many lifelong swimmers, they’ll also say that Michael Phelps’ butterfly events at the Olympics are some of the best races to watch, proving how even though the butterfly is difficult, a true master can show off its power.
The most difficult part of butterfly events is the use of the arms. The dolphin kick can be used at certain points during the race and is a staple in swimming. Here are the official butterfly guidelines to prevent yourself from getting disqualified.
Like freestyle and breaststroke races, the forward start is used for butterfly races. The forward start involves using the starting block. The starter will signal for the swimmer to step onto the block. The swimmer typically places one foot (usually their dominant foot) at the front of the block and positions their nondominant foot at the back of the block for stability. The swimmer is allowed to place both feet at the front of the block. The starter will say, “Take your mark,” and following those words, the swimmer will bend down and place both hands on the front of the block. The starter will then signal for the race to begin and the swimmer will dive into the water.
Following both the start and turns, the swimmer must have their shoulders at or past vertical toward the breast. At this time, the swimmer will usually be in the streamline position, in which the swimmer’s hands overlap above their head and their biceps are pressed to their ears. The swimmer may perform one or more leg kicks at this time. The swimmer is only allowed one underwater pull.
The swimmer’s head must break the surface by the 15-meter mark after the start and after each turn; otherwise, they will be disqualified. After the first arm pull, the swimmer must maintain their position on the surface of the water until the next turn or until the race has concluded.
The swimmer’s body must remain breast-down until the turn. Throughout the race, the swimmer must bring both arms forward simultaneously over the surface of the water and they must be pulled back simultaneously underwater.
After the swimmer breaks the surface of the water, they must continue the simultaneous up and down movement (otherwise known as the dolphin kick). The position of both legs does not need to be on the same level; however, the movement must remain simultaneous. A freestyle or breaststroke kick is not allowed, and will result in disqualification.
Approaching the turn, the body must be breast-down. The swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the surface of the water. After the swimmer has touched the wall, they may turn in any way they want to, but the shoulders must be at or past vertical toward the breast when the swimmer pushes off of the wall.
After the swimmer has completed the designated distance, the swimmer must remain breast-down. The finishing touch must be made with both hands simultaneously and may be at, above, or below the surface of the water.
Summary of Butterfly Rules
- The swimmer will utilize the forward start.
- The swimmer must break the surface of the water after the start and after each turn by the 15-meter mark.
- The swimmer is allowed one underwater pull prior to breaking the water’s surface. Afterwards, the swimmer must remain on the breast and both arms must be brought forward simultaneously and pulled back under the water simultaneously.
- The swimmer must utilize the dolphin kick and all leg motions must be simultaneously up and down. The freestyle or breaststroke kick must not be used.
- Prior to the turn, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the surface of the water. Once the swimmer has touched the wall, they may complete the turn using any method they want to use.
- After the swimmer has completed the designated distance, they must touch the wall simultaneously at, above, or below the surface of the water.
What start is used for butterfly races?
The forward start is used for butterfly races. The swimmer will stand on the starting block and place one foot at the front of the starting block and one foot at the back. At the starter’s command, the swimmer will bend down and place both hands on the front of the starting block. The starter will then signal for the race to begin and the swimmer may dive into the water.
What are the stroke rules for butterfly races?
Both arms must be brought forward simultaneously over the water and pulled back simultaneously under the water. The dolphin kick is utilized and the up and down movements of the legs and feet must be simultaneous. No scissor or breaststroke kick may be used.