Perfecting Your Underwater Butterfly Kick

Shadow swimming is not a popular form of technique training. However, while reviewing a series of Misty Hyman technique DVDs produced by Go Swim Video, Swimming World Magazine came across some shadowy photos that give a unique perspective to the underwater butterfly kick.

Misty performs her underwater kick while on her side. What's cool is that the shadows on the bottom of the pool make Misty appear as if she were swimming on her stomach. The first thing that we noticed was how well Misty kept her upper body straight and streamlined while her lower body created the power by moving in a fishlike manner.

There are a series of phases to the underwater kick:

Phase 1: Upkick

The first phase is the upkick, in which the hips lead the upward motion followed by the legs, calves, ankles and toes, using the back and hamstring muscles. Misty presses the water away from her as if the water were rolling downhill off her legs. The quicker she brings up her legs, the faster the water rolls off and, consequently, the more power that is generated.

The final phase of the upkick starts when Misty's thighs come in line with her upper body. At this point, the knees bend to allow the calves, ankles and toes to continue pressing upward Because water is a fluid that knows no direction, it continues to roll off her body, sustaining the power.

Phase 2: Downkick

When the upkick reaches its highest point, the downkick phase immediately begins with a transfer of power.

The downkick phase uses the quadriceps and stomach muscles. Misty rapidly presses the water down with her knees leading the press. The back is arched to allow water to start flowing off her body from a point that is close to her navel. Now she is in her most powerful position, and she has the ability to send water rapidly back from her lower torso to her toes.

The downkick continues downward until it reaches its lowest point without the upper body moving out of a streamline position. It is at this point that the transfer of power to an upkick is initiated.

Misty continues this rapid succession of movements for up to 15 meters underwater from each wall in performing a fast, picture-perfect underwater butterfly kick.


For more from Swimming World Magazine, visit their website at www.swimmingworldmagazine.com.

Originally Published: 4/10/05.

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