Butterfly is arguably the toughest stroke in swimming and can sometimes feel impossible to master, but we’ve got some good news: You can conquer the 100 butterfly with the right training focus.

If you want to improve your 100 butterfly time, get ready to take some notes…we’re sharing our favorite tips to help you improve your technique and speed for your fastest 100 fly ever! (Pssst…read to the end for a butterfly-focused swim workout to try!)

1. Race Execution

To start, let’s take a look at the best way to execute a 100 butterfly race. Because it’s not as simple as swimming as fast as you can! 

For a short course 100 butterfly, we can break the race into four 25s to build out our race:

  • First 25: Focus on easy speed. Try not to go out too fast, and stick to your breathing pattern.
  • Second 25: Build your tempo and speed as you approach the halfway point of the race
  • Third 25: You should be at your maximum effort here. Maintain your power and tempo from the second 25.
  • Fourth 25: Hold on to your tempo and maintain your body position. Don’t let your hips drop or you’ll slow down big time!

2. Improve Technique

So, now that we know what your dream 100 butterfly race should look like, how do you make it happen? It starts with good technique. 

Improving your butterfly is all about improving efficiency. Compared to the other strokes, butterfly takes the most energy to swim correctly, which causes your form to fall apart more quickly. When you focus on efficiency, you’ll reduce extra drag in your stroke and swim faster.

Related: How to Swim Butterfly with Perfect Technique

Technique is especially important in the second half of any butterfly race. If you can maintain proper body position, breathing pattern and tempo, you’ll finish strong. 

3. Choose a Breathing Pattern

We’ve already mentioned this in the previous points, but your breathing pattern and breath control are essential to speed in butterfly. 

In the 100 or 200 butterfly, we recommend breathing every one or two strokes. For the 50 butterfly, some swimmers don’t breathe at all, or plan a few strategic breaths to hold them over until the end of the race. 

Whatever pattern you choose, stick to it no matter what on race day, and make sure to practice it in training. Your body needs the oxygen, but the consistent pattern will also help you maintain your stroke tempo when the race starts to get tough.

4. Improve Underwaters

The turns and underwaters are a massive part of a short course 100 butterfly…so don’t forget to work on them! 

Streamline dolphin kick off the wall is the fastest you’ll ever go – yes, it’s even faster than your butterfly. If you can maximize your speed and distance off each wall, you’ll shave off some extra time. Just make sure you don’t go further than 15 meters underwater, or you’ll be disqualified!

Related: How to Have a Perfect Streamline in Swimming

Similar to your breathing pattern, you need to practice your underwaters in training. Maybe you focus on taking an extra two dolphin kicks off of each wall during your main set, or hit 10 meters off the wall each time.

5. Train Smarter, Not Harder

Butterfly is a short axis stroke, so you can’t train it the same way you would freestyle or backstroke. You’ll get the most bang for your buck when you focus more on swimming butterfly at higher speeds instead of swimming longer sets at a slower pace. 

Related: How to Do a Breaststroke or Butterfly Turn

If the 100 butterfly is your focus, break your sets into repeats of 50s or 25s at or near your race pace to train your body in proper tempo and body position. If you opt for long sets instead, you’ll end up swimming a lot of butterfly at a slow, fatigued pace, which teaches your body to swim inefficiently.

It can also be helpful to break up the stroke with drills, kicking, pulling and underwater work so you don’t tire yourself out excessively.

Try This Butterfly Swim Workout

Apply our tips to your next workout…give this butterfly set a try! You can find this workout in the MySwimPro App’s Workout Library. Note that depending on your swimming speed, the intervals shown below may not match what you see in the app – the workout is personalized to you! Sync it to your smartwatch and head to the pool!

  • Distance: 2,500 yards/meters
  • Duration: 60 minutes


  • 1 x 300 Freestyle @ 5:00
  • 8 x 25 Dolphin Kick with Fins @ :45 4 planes of motion (streamline position on your right side, left side, front and back)
  • 4 x 25 Single Arm Butterfly Drill with Fins @ :40 

Main Set (2x)

  • 8 x 50 Butterfly/Freestyle by 25 @ 1:00 Descend 1-4, 5-8
  • 1 x 200 Pull Easy @ 4:00
  • 8 x 25 Butterfly @ :30 Race Pace

Cool Down

  • 6 x 50 Freestyle @ :55 Silent Swimming

If you want more swim workouts like this, download the MySwimPro app! Start your personalized Training Plan for daily Guided Workouts designed for your speed, skill level and schedule.



  1. Hello, I’ve been a US Master swimmer for about 30 years and am in the 70 to 74 age group. My most successful strokes have been butterfly and breaststroke 50s and 100’s. My question is this: I will be changing the repeats down to 4 – 6 times through sets instead of 8. Can I use fins for part of those 4-6 repeats? Thank you.

    • Taylor Holmes on

      Hi Diane,

      You can definitely incorporate fins into your training! However, it’s important to use fins as a tool, and not to get too reliant on them. So the answer to your question is yes, but try not to use fins every time you swim those repeats. A good rule of thumb is to keep your equipment usage to 50% or less of your total training volume for the week.

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