Some years ago there were seemingly only dozens of websites covering the butterfly stroke and not the many hundreds there are today. It was back then I decided to learn butterfly on my own without previously having thought about doing so. Out of necessity, I quickly began making notes. Years went by and I never stopped writing things down–that was most unusual for me. Had I not long been thinking about putting together what I was learning for an eventual website, assuredly, I wouldn't have created one. I hope and believe my contribution is worthy and inspiring, even though it's adrift in an expanding sea of websites on butterfly.
Alas, I'm not a swimming coach or a great swimmer; I'm just someone who became extra fascinated with one particular activity, the butterfly. I have far more natural ability as a cyclist and as a runner, each of which I do more of than swimming. Effectively, I taught myself how to swim the four strokes at the same time and I have consistently swum them in equal amounts in the available time I've had for swimming. However, when not physically swimming a stroke, I've thought about butterfly technique a thousand times more than technique for the other strokes combined. My motivation has been to enjoy exercise as much as possible so I will continue to exercise regularly. I have no particular interest in writing about anything else related to swimming or any sport.
During the many seasons I was teaching myself how swim the butterfly, I was seeking the keys to it. Eventually, I concluded, for my perspective as a less than great swimmer, that the keys aren't just a couple or few things on a short list. Every aspect of the stroke is critical to its success! If one has a good coach, the key would have to be listening. (I will forever be amazed and humbled that 11 and 12 year old boys and girls are already competing in 200 meter butterfly!) My personal category of swimming is concerned with technique without emphasis on speed. Otherwise, I'm sure I would've found some keys to highlight.
Actually, I do have keys to swimming butterfly but they're not focused on specific technical aspects: It's key is to be physically in shape for fly so everything can be executed correctly. Thorough knowledge of proper technique and awareness of what one is doing right and wrong is essential. Figuring out what is working good and what isn't and doing something about it is up there. Early on I took in some incorrect information, and I misinterpreted or forgot many things which greatly delayed my progress. I was never fond of drills. I learned the hard way which thankfully doesn't short you on fitness. But if only I knew at the beginning what I know now! For years I wrote down what I thought were the most important technical aspects. Those focal points shifted many times because they were never really part of a singular set of keys. By the time almost everything about my stroke finally clicked, there were no small few specific keys. I was close to as good as I was going to get and very happy with my form. One's ability or potential is closely related to genetics. Not being blessed with outstanding swimming genes is my advantage in understanding what it takes.
Consistent with my inability to come up with a simple set of technical keys for swimming butterfly, I wrote my description of technique without ever even considering titling individual sections (for example: The Pull, and The Kick) because there is so much overlap that such divisions would be worse than ragged with no clean breaks. The challenges of butterfly, its intricate elegance and its benefits, are what drew me to it and then kept me absorbed. Being a big fan of competitive swimming was also a factor.