The butterfly stroke has always intrigued, and eluded, me. My childhood swim lessons – two weeks each summer at the small community pool – covered basic strokes only. I watched with awe whenever the pool manager’s children, both college students who had learned to swim elsewhere, occasionally did a length or two of butterfly. From observing them, I understood what the arms were supposed to do, but I couldn’t figure out the kick. Eventually, whenever I tried to butterfly, I did a sort of aborted breaststroke maneuver. It was neither pretty nor efficient for the ten feet or so I could manage it.
Last week in Masters class, though, those of us in the “baby” lane focused on proper butterfly technique. First, we concentrated on the kick. To keep my feet from going awkwardly awry, Coach D. said to visualize my big toes tied together tightly. After a few lengths I began to feel more “dolphin-like” as I undulated through the water. Next we added arms – one at a time, then both. I was more moth than Monarch, but I could fly.