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The difference between a powerful length of butterfly…and a painful length of fly is often the breakout. In this lesson, we’ll take a closer look at the kind of breakout that helped James Guy win a relay silver medal in Rio.

What we notice first is something your coach tells you every day: STREAMLINE. From the moment James’s feet leave the wall….HERE…he is in world-class streamline. He has one hand over the other, with fingers pointing forward rather than down. His head is tightly locked between the shoulders, with eyes below elbows and eyes looking DOWN. His back is flat, creating one clean line from fingertips to toes.

To begin his underwater dolphins, James presses in at the chest and lets the legs rise – all while maintaining tight streamline from fingertips through the shoulders. As he continues to undulate, the integrity of his streamline never changes. His leading edge is stable and streamlined, allowing him to drive forward with each press of the chest…and each powerful down-kick.

As he rises into the first armstroke, James maintains his streamline and the eyes-down position of his head. We’re going to freeze it right here because we love this position. This is just an exceptional power position for butterfly. The hands and hips are high. The chest is low. The eyes are down and the head is JUST below the surface. James’s body is like a rubber band stretched and ready to let go. You can see the energy potential ready to be unleashed with his first stroke.

And here’s the first stroke into the breakout. Notice that the eye position hasn’t
changed, that there’s no breathing on the first stroke, and that the nose and
mouth remain in the water. James stays low and horizontal, which lets him get
maximum power out of the first armstroke. Staying low helps him maintain all the
momentum he established from his pushoff, his powerful dolphins, and that
massive first armstroke. This kind of breakout sets him up for a powerful length
of fly.