Mermaids move with unearthly beauty and grace in the water. They use their strong tails to propel them quickly through the ocean, and even the fish admire them for their speed.

Naturally, you, too, may wish to swim as powerfully as the mermaid. Though you may already know how to float, doggie-paddle, or even breaststroke, you’d love to find more ways to glide effortlessly through the water.

To start your mermaid journey, take some time to learn the butterfly stroke. This stroke is among the most beautiful and difficult swimming strokes to master. When performed correctly, the butterfly enables you to move in a wave-like fashion with the feet kicking together as if you had a tail instead of toes.

Understand the Basic Technique

The butterfly stroke usually requires some guidance from a swimming expert to help you maintain proper form and technique. However, you can read about the most basic principles below:

Start With Your Arms

The butterfly stroke relies heavily on three basic arm movements: the pull, the push, and the recovery.

  1. The pull involves extending your arms above your head. Your hands extend downward and outward to create a Y ahead of your body. With a semi-circular motion, you pull your arms toward your body, with your palms facing out.
  2. The push starts at the end of the pull, and you push your palms backward toward your hips. Your hands should extend parallel to your sides, close to your thighs.
  3. The recovery allows you to move back to the start position without losing your momentum. You’ll sweep your arms sideways and up out of the water and throw them forward. Your palms should face outward.

As you move through each of the three steps, your core will rise and fall in a wave-like motion.

Coordinate Your Feet

If you want to swim like a mermaid and master the butterfly stroke, you’ll need to press your feet and legs together. The tighter you press your legs, the less drag and pressure you’ll create, and the smoother you’ll swim.

Ideally, you’ll kick two times per stroke. The first kick should happen as you throw your arms above the water during your recovery phase, and the second kick should occur as your arms sweep back into the water. Each of these kicks should originate from the hips, with the bottoms of your feet breaking the surface of the water.

Learn to Breathe

Although mermaids might not need to breathe underwater, you’ll definitely need to learn when to breathe while practicing this stroke. The butterfly only has a short window for breathing, and if you miss your opportunity, you’ll quickly exhaust yourself.

For best results, synchronize your breaths with your body as it naturally rises and falls in a wave-like motion. When you move your hands underneath your chest during the pull and push phases, your chest will naturally rise upward toward the water’s surface. You can then lift your head to breathe. You’ll dip your head again as your arms come out of the water during your recovery phase. Don’t hold your head too long above water, or you’ll lose your momentum on your recovery.

As you strengthen your body and practice the stroke, aim to breathe in during one stroke and out during the next. Breathing in and out at every stroke will slow you down, and the best swimmers can sustain the alternating pattern for long distances.

Don’t Forget Your Mermaid Tail

Once you feel confident with your butterfly stroke, don’t forget to wear your mermaid tail whenever you swim. The tail should fit comfortably, and if worn correctly, it won’t inhibit your leg movements at all as you kick through the water. Soon you’ll look as graceful as a mermaid whenever you swim.