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In these clips, I want you to watch my hands.

It’s a little thing…but what you do with your hands and wrists during the recovery has a big effect on how fast you swim butterfly.

This swimmer has her palms facing down on the recovery. She has to lift her arms way up to get her hands out of the water, and this creates a lot of tension in her shoulders. This kind of recovery makes it HARD WORK to swim butterfly.

Notice how I keep my palms facing the sky for as long as possible.

When my palms are facing UP, my shoulders are more stable.

When my palms are facing UP, my arms stay more relaxed on the recovery, and I save energy.

Let’s take a look at the recovery from the front. When my palms are facing UP, my recovery stays low and balanced.

One way to practice a palm-up recovery is with single-arm drills.

Keep one arm out in front, and set up a rhythm with your body as you swim butterfly with the other arm. Remember to take two kicks per stroke.

This swimmer is doing a one-arm drill, but it looks more like freestyle than butterfly. She’s not using her whole body. She’s kicking just with her legs. See how the knees are bent?

Keep your arm relaxed and low as it sweeps over the water.

Keep the palm facing the sky for as long as possible.

Practice with your right arm on one length,

Then switch to your left arm on the next length.

Then take two strokes with one arm, two with the other arm, then two strokes of butterfly, focusing on keeping the palms up for as long as possible.

You can do lots of variations on this drill, but the main thing is to think about keeping your palms up as you recover your arms.