7 Distance Butterfly Swims That Might Make You Cringe in Pain

Warning! We don’t  recommend swimming long distance butterfly. For 99.9% of swimmers it is bad for technique. If you want to learn perfect butterfly technique watch Michael Phelps Essential: Twenty Butterfly Training Videos here.

1. Nia’s 500 yards butterfly

2. Elaine’s 900 yards butterfly

3. Doug Jelen swims 1650 yards of butterfly

4. Connor Wilkins and Mack Hamill swim 1500 meters butterfly

5. Romain Louedec swim the 3000 meters butterfly

6. Peter Scott  “attempts” a 9km crossing of the English Bay, Vancouver, BC, butterfly

7. River Dart 10k butterfly

In This Story

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7 years ago

No Mary T? Guess there isn’t video of her legendary 10,000 fly…

7 years ago

I know. She told me she used to do entire practices fly, said she’d warmup fly b/c it was less stressful on her shoulders.

Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
7 years ago

No one beats Melvin Stewart!!

Hey Melvin, post the training you used to do at UT. I am happy to have had the opportunity to watch you doing (live) in 1991 at Student Aquatic Center.

Awesome 1’41 – 200Fly at Ncaa.

Reply to  Glauco
7 years ago

I believe I remember watching Mel Stewart do a 500 fly on the outside lanes during a 500 in a dual meet. I’m guessing this would have been the lead up the 96 trials. It was pretty amazing. He wasnt far behind the “kids” in the pool.

7 years ago

You missed the biggest one although a 10k fly is dang impressive: http://swimswam.com/sylvain-estadieu-swims-across-the-english-channel/

As a side point: technique for distance butterfly is different than for the 100 m or 200 m, but that does not mean that long distance destroys technique for shorter competitions. The important thing to remember is that training for a 200 m race requires very different training than a 10 k or at least the race pace coaches tell everyone.

7 years ago

That’s nothing. I once saw Michael Phelps swim across the Atlantic Ocean butterfly on TV. He touched the base of the Statue of Liberty and went back! I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing!

Elaine Krugman
7 years ago

What a surprise! I just learned from my teammate “Swimosaur” on the USMS Forums that my video was included in this feature.

As a footnote to my 900 yard fly swim, the only reason I stopped was because my husband stopped me to let me know the battery had died in the camera. Since I still felt fine, I was curious to see whether I could have gone further.

Two weeks later, I swam 2,000 yards non-stop fly, and in December of 2012, I swam 1,000 yards non-stop fly. Doug Jelen (see the video below mine) also participated in that end-of-the-year challenge that I threw out to my fellow USMS “Forumites.”

Cheers to all you fellow Butternuts!


Elaine Krugman
Reply to  Elaine Krugman
7 years ago
Patrick Keenan
7 years ago

Hey Mel: I could email Trina Radke and ask her on FB if I recall this correctly; but wondering if you recall hearing about or being present at a select training camp in which she too did a 10,000 meter fly swim as did Mary T (or a set with even greater distance)- whether it was the same year and location I don’t recall. I also doubt there is any video of Trina doing this set to have uploaded onto here anyway. But I am having a strong recollection from reading Mary T’s diary (later published in SW in early months of ’89) on her final swimming yr leading up to & including the Seoul Games. And in it I… Read more »

7 years ago

I specifically remember one set/practice I did. My coach, was Ian Crockers old coach from Maine so she had a lot of good fly sets. but this was get in and warm up for 15-20 min… then just do 24×200 fly. SCM. starting at 2:45, if you held breathing pattern and kicked out past the first yellow off each wall for 4 200s in a row you could add 15 seconds to the interval. I got done doing 200s fly on 4 min lol it was the most painful practice. but when I got done I felt so accomplished.

7 years ago

4000 IM 😛

I’ve done like 15 100 flys on 1:15 SCY before, and like 10 200s on 2:45, but nothing really impressive.