DAN MCALLEN // CHAIR, USA SWIMMING RULES & REGULATIONS COMMITTEE
LISA WEMHOFF // HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT
RUSSELL MARK // HIGH PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT
Since the rule change that introduced the butterfly kick within the breaststroke underwater pull, there have been questions as to how and when it should be implemented while conforming to the rules of USA Swimming.
Rule 101.2.3 states:
After the start and each turn, a single butterfly kick, which must be followed by a breaststroke kick, is permitted during or at the completion of the first arm pull.
Because there were varying interpretations of the phrase, “during or at the completion of the first arm pull,” the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations Committee issued the following statement on December 8, 2008:
For the purposes of Article 101.2.3, as it relates to what constitutes the initiation of the first arm pull and the allowed single downward butterfly kick, the following applies:
After the start and after each turn, any observable lateral movement of the hands or arms is considered to be the initiation of the first arm pull.
Clearly, the butterfly kick may not be taken until after the hands separate from the streamline. However, the rule does not require a continuous arm pull. Thus, following initiation the arm pull may be paused and the butterfly kick taken before the pull is resumed to completion. From the perspective of the swimmer and coach, erring on the side of caution to ensure compliance with the rules is advised.
In this video the swimmer is performing the butterfly kick within the rules. Notice that the hands are separated with a lateral movement prior to the butterfly kick. Notice also the slight pause in the arm pull while the kick is taken before the pull is completed.
For most swimmers, in order to get the most power from the butterfly kick without compromising the body line, the butterfly kick should come at the beginning of the underwater pull, just after the hands separate from streamline. The kick should look as if it is initiated from the knees instead of the chest or hips, by really using the quadriceps to slam down the lower legs. Most swimmers who attempt to do the butterfly kick in the middle of the pull end up with a poor body line.
In this video the athlete does an excellent job of keeping a tight and straight body line. Her dolphin kick is big enough to get power, but not so big that it disrupts her body line.