The most gruelling swim style on the 2018 Commonweath Games programme has traditionally only been attempted by the strongest competitors committed enough to perfecting its physically daunting technique. Speaking to Inside Sport, Australian swimmer Madeline Groves has an interesting take on the whole “why swim butterfly?” question.
A first-time Olympian at Rio 2016, Groves has previously described the third lap of the 200m butterfly as “swimming with the grand piano on your back”.
“I guess the 200m butterfly is more an event that picks you, more than you pick it,” she offers when asked why she chose it as the major bow in her swimming artillery. “You have to have the very flexible shoulders and kinda the nack for it, I guess. Not everyone is good at butterfly.
“I think a lot of it has to do with my flexibility, but also my efficiency, basically. Being able to swim butterfly is hard. But the more efficient you can do it and the more momentum you’re able to maintain, the easier it is on you. You have to do the hard work as well.
“All the different strokes, even between events, you have to do specific work; for the 200m butterfly usually that just means doing … quite a lot of butterfly. You can do special dryland exercises, do things like pilates and whatever, but at the end of the day you have to be in there doing those laps and laps of butterfly; and be willing to do it. It’s always been my favourite stroke; even when I was younger. I’ve always been pretty good at it. You always enjoy the things you’re good at. I like that it’s a difficult event. I like that not many people feel like they can do it. Doing a lot of butterfly training makes you feel pretty tough sometimes! My shoulders and arms have had a lot of maintenance; it’s taken a lot to look after them.”