a stroke of genius

July 28, 2021

Very few people can do the butterfly. And even those who attempt it (ahem, the arrogant man at my local pool who creates more splash than a Humpback whale) do it poorly. Unless they’re Olympic athletes, in which case it’s said to be easier than racing crawl. “Of great interest to swimmers at the moment is a new stroke, reported to be becoming popular in the United States and picturesquely described as the Butterfly stroke,” the Guardian reported in 1935. Although some say the stroke dates back as early as 1911. Either way, it’s a stroke that to this day asks us all to step back in wonder and awe when we see it masterfully swum. I held my breath yesterday, as I watched the 100 metre women’s butterfly in Tokyo. The metamorphosis from woman to fish is kind of extraordinary to watch. The speed, the fluidity, the exquisite grace.

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