What Does the Greatest Butterflier Ever Look Like From Underwater? Michael Phelps Footage

Ever wondered what the fastest butterflier in the history of swimming looks like from an underwater view? Thanks to Chris Lundie’s team at TakeItLive, including cameraman John Schaefer,  now you can see.

What this video, taken on Friday morning at the Santa Clara Grand Prix in the 100 fly, shows is that Phelps’ butterfly stroke is not a straight-back, double-armed freestyle that a lot of sprint butterfliers use. There is an “S” curve to it, though perhaps not as pronounced as many of us learned when we were age groupers.

Check out the video above, and watch tonight as Phelps looks to continue to swim well at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, with finals starting at 5PM Pacific Time.

Phelps qualified third in the 100 freestyle with a time of 49.99 and had the fastest time of the morning in the 100 butterfly at 52.57: the race shown in the video above.

Check out the recap of friday’s prelims here.

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A: Like nobody else in the world.


Greatest MALE butterflier ever.

I’m pretty sure Mary T. has a case for greatest butterflier ever.


Ehh, Phelps showed incredible dominance in a time of waaaaay more specialization. World Record at 15 years of age for a male is unprecedented and a mark that will last for decades. 5 time world champ in the 200, 2 time champ in the olympics. 3 olympic and world champ in the 100 with a workload that makes Mary T. look tame. Phelps is the greatest flier ever IMO because he dominated the stroke while he was swimming up to 6 more events at the same meet


It’s not world’s best butterflier with caveats, it’s world’s best butterflier. That said, if you want to go with that, if it weren’t for East Germans and a flash-in-the-pan doped Romanian who swam under the Ceaucescu regime (you’ll never be able to convince me that Tamara Costache was clean), Mary T would have won 6 golds and a bronze at the 1986 World Championships in Madrid (gold 200 free, 100/200 fly, 4×100 fr, 4×100 mr, 4×200 fr, bronze in the 100 free), becoming the most decorated female swimmer in a single Worlds or Olympics, and it’s a record that would still stand to this day. She would have beaten Missy Franklin to six golds by 27 years. Remember, Worlds were… Read more »


I don’t think Josh is discrediting Phelps in any way, and he has some valid points about Mary T. Have you watched any of her racing videos on YouTube? She was amazing, and her records would probably still stand today if she had been “rubber wrapped” (As GoldMedalMel puts it, LOL!), known how much dolphins off the wall can help, and swam in higher tech pools.

I think it’s most appropriate to say Michael is the most dominant and versatile long course swimmer in history, that his best stroke is fly, and that he is the best male fly swimmer ever.


What I always find so impressive, and difficult to teach young people, is the amount of propulsion he gets from the upward thrust of his fly kick!


Gary Hall, Sr. explains in his great video series that there are 4 kicks in a butterfly stroke cycle:
2 downkicks, and 2 upkicks.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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