The Injured Athlete Podcast With Swim Smooth Coach Fiona Ford


Last Xmas shipping dates in the Swim Smooth Shop:

12th Dec: Asia, Far East, Aus, NZ

14th Dec: USA/Canada

16th Dec: Western Europe
At Swim Smooth we are very fortunate to have a talented group of experienced, motivated and inspiring coaches as part of our team.

None more so than Aussie Fiona Ford based in Surrey (Sunbury) and central London.

Fiona has just been featured on the Injury Athletes Club podcast where she talks about her own recovery from a near fatal bike crash in June 2012 when a car suddenly pulled out in front of her.

Thanks to quick thinking and her strong bike-handling skills, she was able to avoid colliding with the vehicle—but she still flew off her bike and hit the pavement, sustaining a broken collarbone, sacrum, several vertebrae, and pelvis, among other injuries.

During the interview she talks candidly about the challenging physical and emotional journey in returning first to daily life and then on to competing again. Find out what made the differences for her and the physical and emotional hurdles she had to overcome along the way.

It's a great listen for any athlete or coach but especially inspiring if you are making a comeback from a minor or major injury yourself:


Amazingly, despite being told by doctors her running days were over, Fiona went on to qualify and race at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships, finishing in third place in her age group - truly amazing!

You can also read Fiona's book all about her journey back to competition here: www.amazon.co.uk/Back-Track-Recovered-Near-Fatal-Accident/dp/1782550747/

And lastly, you can meet Fiona in person yourself by booking in for a video analysis session or joining her squad sessions in Richmond and central London. Find out more about her Swim Smooth services at: www.fionafordcoaching.com/?page_id=1300

Not in London? Find your nearest SS coach here: swimsmooth.com/coaches/find-a-coach



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Finding Your Own Path In 2020

When a great competitor achieves their true potential in their sport, it's always worth listening to their reflections on what really made a difference along their journey. Nearly always that wisdom dwells on the mental and emotional aspects of preparation and competing.

Here's a great quote from Lewis Hamilton after winning his sixth (!) Formula 1 world championship a few weeks ago:
It's the physical side, it's the mental side, it's probably the mental side that's probably the biggest part... We have control of our mind. As I've gone through the years I've been more and more aware of what works for me and what doesn't.

I realise I'm different... because we're all different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I'm not insecure about my weaknesses. There's never a day when you're perfect. When you make no mistakes, those are the days you learn from. 

What's probably been the hardest lesson to learn is that you can't change the past. It burns you out; it's almost too much to bear. You just have to suck it up... and I've learned to be able to move on. As long as I've done my best day on the day I can be proud of myself whether I win or I lose....

... You can over-prepare. I keep to myself, take my mind off it. I think about other things, I think about family, I think about my dad. He worked harder than anyone else and inspired me to do that same. We over-think things all the time... and it's a case of just going out and doing it. This is how I operate best. This is how I achieve greatness.
We love how Lewis brings together these really simple points so beautifully:

- You have to work things out for yourself.
Recognise shit happens along the way and you can't change that so you have no choice but to turn the page and move on. That's a really hard thing to do.
- Keep things really simple.
- Remember everything that brought you to this point and draw strength from that.

You might not be racing for world titles yourself with all the pressure that brings but that doesn't mean that achieving your goals and becoming all that you can be is easy, far from it.

The upcoming festive break is a great time to reflect on some of this stuff yourself and move forwards positively into 2020.

For more wisdom filled reflections to hopefully inspire you, take a listen to episode 12 of the Swim Smooth podcast featuring the legendary 6 time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott:

https://anchor.fm/swimsmooth/episodes/Episode-12---Dave-Scott--6-time-Hawaii-Ironman-World-Champion-e3379t


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10 Ways To Improve Using The Guru (UP TO 25% OFF IN THE BLACK FRIDAY SALE!)




A long long time ago, when millennials were still at school and people still bought CDs, if you didn't have access to a Swim Smooth coach to improve your swimming, you would have bought one of our coaching DVDs. All was good in the world - sunglasses got bigger and bigger, Uber referred to German cyclists and a Blackberry wasn't a fruit for a while.

But around 2012 it was obvious that the world was quickly moving on and technology was coming that would allow us to produce a much better coaching product than a mere DVD. We could deliver massively more interactive content and sophisticated intelligence to guide the swimmer. A true "virtual coach" was the name of the game.

And so we started writing... and filming... and coding... and filming... and writing:


Three years later, one bright sunny day in December 2014 The Guru was launched (or the Swim Smooth Coaching System as it was called back then):


The result was a "web-app" based system you could access from any laptop, smartphone or tablet with over 30 hours (!) of systemised high quality coaching video, extensive training plans and interactive stroke correction.

The Guru concept is still a new idea in coaching so it might not be intuitively obvious to you how it works, so we've outlined 10 ways to use the Guru to improve your own swimming (or coaching). But before we get started with that don't miss the fact that we have a Black Friday deal on the Guru running for the next few days only:

BLACK FRIDAY OFFER

Sign-up here and use promo code TYCJ-RMAV to get 30% off 3 months PRO subscription or 25% off an annual PRO subscription: www.swimsmooth.guru


10 Ways To Improve Your Swimming With The Guru


1. Our Complete Drill Library (Pro and Std Subscriptions)

Never again wonder what to focus on or the purpose of any drill with our full guide to every SS drill featuring extensive coaching points. Watch in glorious HD from any angle:


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/dg/drills/


2. Study Elite Swimmers (Pro and Std Subscriptions)

How can elite swimmers possibly be so quick? Understand how with our exclusive collection of amazing swimmers shot for you to study from every angle. Featuring Olympic Champions like Rebecca Adlington and the fastest female swimmer in triathlon Lucy Charles:


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/dF/elites/


3. Our Full Learn To Swim Program (Pro and Std Subscriptions)

Can't swim freestyle yet? You're in for a treat as both subscription levels of the Guru feature our full Learn To Swim process. We'll build up your stroke step by step for those first laps of smooth effective freestyle - get inspired!


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/cMH/learn-to-swim/


4. Correct Your Stroke With Our Fault Fixer (Std & Pro) & Swim Types Processes (Pro subscriptions)

OK down to business directly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your stroke with our truly individual approach to stroke correction. You have a choice of two routes - firstly identify a specific fault in your stroke and follow our step-by-step process to correct it. Or work on multiple areas at once with our ingenious Swim Types processes - identify your type and fast track your progress with our holistic approach to your swimming.


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/dY/fault-fixers/


5. Training Plans For Any Distance (Pro subscriptions)

Training for any distance of triathlon or open water swim? We have a full swim training plan specific for your needs to get you fully prepared for a big personal best. 19 plans to choose from in total:


Of course you can print out any session to take poolside and follow.

Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/b9/training-plans/


6. Session Libraries (Pro subscriptions only)

Not following an event plan but want a session of a specific type of session to follow? We've organised over 800 (!) sessions by type in our libraries. Technique, Aerobic Endurance, CSS or Red Mist - you decide! The perfect resource for coaches too.


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/subsection/cEZ/session-library/


7. Train Interactively With A Tempo Trainer & "Tweak" Your Fitness

The Guru knows and tracks your swimming ability using the CSS system which Swim Smooth popularised throughout swimming. With our clever "tweaking" method, your CSS pace adapts over time to make sure you are training at the optimal pace for your ability.

But how do we make sure you swim at the right speed? With our Tempo Trainer Pro integration. Simply program the Guru's settings into your Tempo Trainer and swim to the beep - turning and pushing at the end of each lap as it beeps (a bit like a beep-test in the gym):




Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/csstracker/


8. Fitness Tracker (Pro Subscription) & Performance Profile (Pro - Marlin Required)

Want to see visually how you are progressing? How do you know how tired you are and if that's affecting your speed on any given day? The Guru features a clever Fitness Tracker to model your fitness and fatigue levels visually over time. Easily compare month against month or year against year.



Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/fitnesstracker/


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/performanceprofile/


9. Swim With Our Virtual Squad - The Exact Same Sessions As The Perth Squad!

Unfortunately not everyone can swim in sunny Perth at the glorious Claremont swimming pool but now you can swim the same sessions at the same time! The Virtual Squad features technique, training and open water skills direct from Head Coach Paul Newsome down-under:


Subscribers shortcut: www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/cLk/virtual-squad/


10. Coaches Dashboard - Perfect For Face To Face Coaching

A fantastic resource for all coaches. Explore our full drill library and watch elite athlete videos to help with your squad sessions. Use the Guru to calculate the CSS's of your squad to make sure everyone is working to their full potential in your session. Genius!



You'll love working with the Guru - so much so you might even be inspired to bake a Guru cake (like squad swimmer Nolan - thanks sir!) :



BLACK FRIDAY OFFER

Sign-up to the Guru here and use promo code TYCJ-RMAV to get 30% off 3 months PRO subscription or 25% off an annual PRO subscription: www.swimsmooth.guru


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Black Friday: Five Swim Bag Essentials

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your partner? Or feel the need to make a change to your swimming and need the right tool to achieve it?

No problem, skip trawling the internet for hours - we've done the hard yards for you and assembled the ultimate Swim Bag Essentials list to choose from. And yes, every item is in our Black Friday Sale!

Read on below or jump directly to our Black Friday sale here:


Please note, Black Friday offers only run whilst stock lasts - don't delay in purchasing!


1. Get Focused With A Finis Tempo Trainer Pro

First on the list is this classic easy to use tool to improve your swimming. It's been around a while but it is so so effective we can't imagine swimming without one.

The Tempo Trainer Pro works in one of two ways:

- Use a regular beep to subtly adjust your stroke rate whilst swimming. Fighting the water? Then slow things down slightly. Overgliding or too gentle with the water? Speed things up. Instant gains!

- Or, set the beep to once per length and use the Tempo Trainer as a training partner to pace you through key training sets. It keeps you focused and pushes you on when you might otherwise switch off!

The Tempo Trainer Pro is the best selling item in our Swim Shop (ever) and you can save over 10% on it in our Black Friday sale : shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-tempo-trainer-pro

2. Perform Key Drills With A Perfectly Sized Pull Buoy

Second on our list is the ever humble pull buoy. Seemingly just a nicely shaped piece of foam, placed high between your legs a pull buoy allows you to perform essential drills such as Scull #1 and Doggy Paddle.

So important are these drills that it's actually pretty hard to develop a good catch and pull technique without them. Don't try performing them without a pull-buoy either, using some kick to keep your legs up overpowers the drill!

Check out this video of 20 coaches trying out sculling (with their pull buoys) and understanding the unique power of the drill through experimentation:

View here: https://youtu.be/F1BvEHR4uhM

Get your perfectly formed Finis pull buoy (and save >10% in our Black Friday sale) here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-adult-pull-buoy

And if you have a naturally high body position in the water, check out the less buoyant junior version here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-junior-pull-buoy

3. Crossing Over In Front Of Your Head? Don't Miss The Awesome Finis Freestyler Paddles

Swimming paddles have traditionally been large circular plates which you strap to your hand to increase the water's resistance. They make it harder to pull through and so act to develop your strength.

The Finis Freestyler Paddles (and Agility paddles below) are very different. They are technique paddles, designed to give you feedback on how you swim to improve your stroke.

The Freestyler Paddle is shaped like an arrow head with a straight keel underneath. This encourages them to straighten up and point straight down the pool. So if you cross the centre line in front of your head (as so many swimmers do) they counter-act that and gently straighten you up:



They also feature a single narrow strap that you place your middle finger through (no side gripping of the paddle allowed!), meaning that if you crossover you'll feel them move under your hand - more great feedback. These versatile paddles are also a great tool to work on a nice clean hand entry into the water - highly recommended all round!

Save >10% on your Freestyler paddles in our Black Friday Sale: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-freestyler-paddles

4. More Advanced? Check Out The Agility and ISO Paddles

If you are a slightly more advanced swimmer, take a look at the Finis Agility Paddle and the Finis ISO Paddles - two more technique paddles focusing on different areas of the stroke.

The Agility paddle has a unique curved shape and strapless design that helps you develop a high elbow catch position. If you've been swimming a while you'll know how elusive that can be to develop:



The Agility paddles are beautiful smooth paddles to use and if you do want to do some strength training they're the perfect paddle for that too - the strapless design and curved shape makes them very easy on the hand.

Save >10% on your Agility paddles in our Black Friday Sale: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-agility-paddles

Alternatively consider the Finis ISO Paddle for intermediate to advanced swimmers. The non-symmetrical nature of this paddle creates an inbalance in the catch and pull phase forcing you to stabilise the paddle as you pull through. This makes you super-aware of the pathway of your hand and the movement through the water.

These paddles are REVERSIBLE meaning depending on the hands you wear the paddles on, you can work on different muscle groups. Wearing the black paddle on your right hand isolates the pectorals and biceps, switching the paddles over allows you to engage your latissimus dorsi and triceps. Ingenious!



Buy yours here: shop.swimsmooth.com/collections/black-friday/products/finis-iso-paddles

5. Now You Just Need A Bag To Put Everything In!

Need somewhere to store all of your exciting new items? Then complete your Christmas list with the Finis Mesh Bag to take all your new Christmas delights to the pool. The mesh design means you can drop in wet items and they (and the bag) will still dry effectively with them inside - super!

Save >10% on your Mesh Bag in our Black Friday sale: shop.swimsmooth.com/collections/black-friday/products/finis-mesh-gear-bag

All of these items are available in our Black Friday Deals which are available online now, so get ordering and get yourself organised for Christmas!


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A Request From Swim Smooth - Can You Help Us?

Happy Friday! We have a request - would you assist us by answering a few super-quick questions about you and your swimming?

You can do that for us using the Google Form here: https://forms.gle/b8UbLUpKpWykeWPf6

If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you will know that our coaching takes account of your individuality - whether you are tall, short, sinky, buoyant, young or less young! Your data will let us give you the right coaching advice and ensure that you get the very most from your time in the water, improving at the fastest rate possible.

By answering this short survey you will be helping us fine-tune some new coaching tools for 2020 which you will be able to put to work on your own swimming to keep those improvements coming.

We can't wait to share those tools with you but in the meantime your data will be super-useful in developing them.

Janine and Neil demonstrate how different we all are. Janine's actually a faster swimmer, so if you
have shorter arms yourself don't despair, it's just about swimming in the right way for your individual makeup.

Here's that form again!

Thank you for all your help with this week's blog Swim Smoothers!
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The Mini Goldilocks Set - Your First Proper Training Set?

A post this week for our new Swim Smooth Community Manager - Myffy - who has a background in several sports but is new to swimming herself.

If you are learning to swim freestyle and working on the basics of the stroke then check out the "Mini Goldilocks" set here and give it a go yourself. If you normally just get in and swim lengths then this might be your first ever structured training session. Mini Goldilocks is perfect for that!

Over to Myffy:

Starting out on Day 1 at Swim Smooth HQ was exciting enough, but my excitement soared when within 10 minutes I was presented with a party bag of Swim Smooth essentials! As I delved into the bag and fully investigated the contents, there were towels, books, manuals and swimming hats for every day of the week:



But I quickly came across some items I had no idea how to use - a Tempo Trainer Pro, Fins and Paddles were among them. Having been busy with other sports and only ever swum occasionally I was excited to get down to the pool and test out all of these new goodies!

With the kit bag in tow, I quickly made my way down to the pool to try out swimming the Swim Smooth way. SS Head UK Coach Adam Young was keen for me to test out a classic Swim Smooth Set - "Goldilocks" - but adapted it slightly to suit my ability level. To maintain the pace throughout this whole set, I got to use my first piece of equipment - the Tempo Trainer! 

Here's the set:

Mini Goldilocks Set

3 x 50m + 1 beep rest
1 x 100m (Baby Bear)

3 x 50m  + 1 beep rest
1 x 200m (Mama Bear) 

3 x 50m  + 1 beep rest
1 x 300m (Papa Bear)


Ideally this session should be swum with a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro in mode 1 or mode 2 so that it beeps once per length to you in a 25m/yd pool or twice per length in a 50m pool.

The goal is to stay with the beep so that it paces you through the swim at constant speed. This should feel quite easy during the 50s but get harder over the 100, 200 and 300! After each of the 50s, stop and wait for the next beep - we call this "one beep rest".


In preparation for the new role, I made sure I was well read on all things Swim Smooth and put the book, Swim Smooth, The Complete Coaching System for Swimmers and Triathletes first on my holiday reading list! Armed with all the theory behind the freestyle stroke, I was now faced with the challenge of recreating this in the pool.
Beep beep!

The book highlighted the importance of getting your breathing technique right, so to feel a bit more comfortable in the water I made sure I started off with a few sink downs. Spending a long time bobbing at the top of the water made me quickly realise that I needed a much stronger exhale to get me to the bottom of the pool more easily. With the stronger exhale I sunk down to the bottom with ease so thought I was ready to set the Finis Tempo Trainer to 0:27s for a 25m pool and started the first 50m of the 'Baby Goldilocks Set'.

[Adam: With more experienced swimmers we use something called the CSS Test to determine your pace per length but if you are new to swimming, take an initial guess (perhaps 35 seconds per 25m in mode 2) and swim a few lengths and try and stay with the Tempo Trainer Pro beep. Too fast or too slow? Adjust the beeper until it feels like you are swimming at a good level of effort but not sprinting to keep up.]

I placed the Tempo Trainer underneath my swimming cap, a device you set to your estimated time for one length of the pool. Start the length on the beep and aim to reach the other end of the pool by the second beep. Feeling very smug with myself that I managed to set the Tempo Trainer to the right mode, I set off for my first lap with a strong push off from the wall. So strong that the Tempo Trainer was forced out of swimming hat and I was left having to swim the wrong way in the lane to retrieve it!

After the minor delay I quickly got back to the set, I was feeling good after the 'Baby Bear' and found focusing on my breathing helped to keep my breathing strong and body position up in the water. Despite this, the longer swims in the set provided me with a real challenge. Trying to keep my breathing strong, arm straight out in front on the breathing stroke and staying in time with the beeper proved to be a bit of a struggle and did lead to a sense of panic, so I decided to skip a beep in Daddy Bear to stay on time.

Even though the final swim was tough, it did not take away from the enjoyment of the swim and my eagerness to return to the water. And I've learnt several valuable lessons for my next session! Don't push off too hard from the wall! Stay calm and breathe - focusing on my breathing was a great way to switch off from everything outside of the pool. Don't be too harsh on yourself if you don't quite manage to complete what you set out to do, the way you wanted to do it. Being consistent with your training is key and you will still see improvements!

If, like me, you are new to the world of swimming, the Swim Smooth Guru has some great programmes to help you out. Try our Learn2Swim programme or the 'Boosting the Bambino' programme and experience the joys of life in the water:





Bye for now,

Myffy


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What Can A Swim Smooth Coach Do For Your Swimming?

At Swim Smooth our mission is to help everyone of any level swim better, wherever they are in the world. In a nutshell the world needs better swimming!

But what make a Swim Smooth coach different from other swim coach? Why should you be seeking one out?

Our founder Paul Newsome started Swim Smooth in Perth, Australia in 2004 based around two key elements which still hold true today:

- Innovative video analysis and stroke correction methods focusing on the needs of individual swimmers - coaching the swimmer not the stroke.

- A fun, motivating squad environment based around effective training methods for distance swimming, triathlon and open water.

15 years later, the "mothership" Swim Smooth squad still remains strong in Perth, but the innovative Swim Smooth vision and techniques have extended to all corners of the world via our heavily trained SS Certified Coaches.

Here's the class of 2015 training in Perth:




We currently have nearly 50 coaches worldwide with Swim Smooth certification ready to make ground-breaking improvements to your swimming. Every Swim Smooth coach has been hand selected and heavily trained by the core Swim Smooth team, a process that takes around a year for an already experienced coach. This culminates in two weeks intensive training in Perth with the oracle himself Paul Newsome.

Each coach specialises in providing an individualised approach to your stroke correction that makes it truly effective whatever your height, build, natural ability or experience level:

Many swim coaches would ask Liz to swim with a long smooth stroke style like Chris.
That would be a disaster for her swimming.
Not only that but every Swim Smooth coach also runs group training focused around developing your swim specific fitness for distance swimming and open water skills. You'll notice a huge benefit from these sessions if you swim well over short distances but underperform over longer, or if you struggle in open water.

Find your nearest coach here: https://swimsmooth.com/coaches/find-a-coach

Want your own Swim Smooth Coach to help you with your swimming? What can our coaches offer you? There are three main ways you can interact with our coaches around the world: 1-to-1 video analysis sessions, group training sessions (squads) and clinics and camps:

1-to-1 Video Analysis Sessions

Our 1-to-1 video analysis gives you the ability to see your stroke from every conceivable angle, above and below the water. Expertly filmed by your SS coach, this footage system gives you incredible insight into your swimming:

SS Coach Mary Jessey filming her swimmer in Calgary
Following filming, your coach will use their in depth analysis skills to show you what you are doing in the water and clearly explain what is currently holding you back:

SS Johanesburg coach Jana Schoeman analysing a swimmer's footage during training.
Don't worry about forgetting anything from this analysis as you will take home a recording of the footage and feedback, so you can review it again whenever suits you.

Your coach will then have you back in the water for the stroke correction portion of the session, taking you through the processes and drills you need to tune up your stroke in just the right way:

SS Alicante Coach Enrique Plannes Marcos - working on correcting a swimmer's stroke in a chilly London pool!

Swim Smooth Squads

Join other swimmers just like you in one of our Swim Smooth squads all around the world. Our coaches run a number of sessions every week, using our Swim Smooth principles to improve your swimming technique, fitness and open water skills. We pride ourselves in providing a welcoming, inclusive and positive atmosphere in all of our squads - so come along today!

If you are quite new to swimming don't be put off by the word "squad" - it's just a group of like minded individuals like yourself working on improving their swimming in a structured environment. You don't need to swim like a fish or look like an underwear model to join either - we come in all sorts of speed ranges, shapes and sizes.



In addition, all our squad members will have free access to the Swim Smooth Guru so they watch all the drills for the upcoming sessions and access all the other resources, such as our elite swimmer studies, drill library and fault fixer plans.

Swim Smooth Clinics, Camps and Workshops

Unable to attend our Swim Smooth squad regularly? No problem! Our coaches offer one-off half/whole day clinics and workshops for swimmers to improve their stroke and swimming technique. They will use our innovative video analysis and unique drill set to provide you with an in depth analysis of your stroke and action plan for improvement. This allows you to go back to your own pool and practice all the skills you have learned!

SS Coach Cyndy fine tunes her swimmer's catch.
See the feedback below from Coach Laura Ansell's recent trip to Barbados to deliver 1-to-1 clinics and workshops to local swimmers:

vimeo.com/369814149

Want to find your nearest Swim Smooth Coach? Head to our website to find the best coach for you to take your swimming to the next level: www.swimsmooth.com/coaches


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Why Do You Get A Sore Neck From Swimming?

Do you experience neck pain during or after swim sessions? What can you do about it? Neck pain is not often talked about in swimming but is very common issue and can be annoyingly persistent, especially for those quite new to the sport.

Fortunately the reasons for this discomfort are easy to understand and the fix is pretty straightforward. Combine the simple visualisations below with a little perseverance on your part and you will be sliding through the water pain free in no time!

Why Do I Get Neck Pain?

One of our favourite sayings at Swim Smooth is: If something's going to go wrong in your stroke, it'll go wrong when you breathe. And that's definitely true when it comes to the cause of neck pain!

When you go to breathe, you should keep your head low in the water, looking across the surface of the pool (more on this below) but if you are not too confident about taking a clear breath of air, the tendency is to lift your face further and further towards the sky:




For this swimmer twisting the head like this places a large strain on the neck which over time leads to soreness in the neck and the trapezius muscles.

As well as this, the lead arm will have a tendency to drop down in the water, giving you little support and only adding to the anxiety of not being able to breathe. A classic problem for all you Bambinos out there:




If this sounds familiar to you then what can you do to stop your head looking towards the sky as you breathe?

Use The Bow Wave!

As you move through the water a bow wave develops around you, lowering the depth of the surface around the side of your head. This creates a trough providing you with the perfect position to take a breath without altering your body position in the water too much. Physics at its finest:

Notice the shape of the bow wave created around your head, aim to breathe into the trough at position A. 

When you breathe you simply rotate your body and head to position A, and take a breath. We often get our swimmers to imagine they are breathing out of the side of their mouth like Popeye (as seen in the picture below) to encourage them to keep their head even lower in the water. This keeps the head better in line with the body reducing stress on the neck:

Swim Smooth Coach, Steve Bailey, perfectly demonstrating his 'Popeye Breathing' technique. 





Grasping this concept can be a real challenge for many swimmers especially if they experience anxiety when their head is underneath the water. Here's a great exercise to help:

Ask a friend or coach to walk alongside you on the pool deck as you are swimming. As you turn to breathe look towards your coach/friend's feet, it will help keep your head low in the water and gives you something to focus on whilst you are swimming.

Looking for your coach's feet when taking a breath is a great drill to keep your head in the right position

Note this only works in a flush-deck pool where the deck is at the same level as the surface!

As you can see in the video, the swimmer's head remains low in the water and dramatically reduces the twist and strain on their neck. Practise this a few times and once you get the hang of it, simply imagine your friend's feet walking on water alongside you whenever you need a reminder.

Don't forget we have plenty of other drills to help with your breathing technique in the fault fixers section of our Swim Smooth Guru. In fact there's a proven step-by-step process to follow for every classic stroke fault:




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Lasers & Tempo Trainers - What Can We Learn From Eliud Kipchoge's Stunning Sub 2-hr Marathon?

#Nohumanislimited is the motto of Kenyan born Eliud Kipchoge, who most definitely pushed himself to the limit to become the first man in history to run a sub 2 hour marathon. Last weekend in Vienna, the 34 year old completed the marathon in a jaw dropping time of 1hr 59mins 40.2s, smashing the 2 hour barrier! But what was the key to his stunning achievement?



Exercise Physiologist Dr Michael Joyner first predicted that a sub 2 hour marathon was possible in his 1991 research paper. Using statistical models he anticipated that it was possible to complete a marathon in 1hr 57mins 58s in perfect conditions. For over 25 years, long distance athletes edged ever closer to this 2 hour mark, with Eliud's first direct attempt in 2018 setting 2hr 01min 39s, but until this week no one has achieved a sub 2 hour time.

But what can we learn From Eliud's stunning performance to maximise our own personal sporting endeavours - including your own swimming?

The one thing we would highlight was how incredibly well *paced* his run was. With every km (but the last) set between 2mins 48s and 2mins 52s. His run was so well paced that he had a little left in the tank to complete the final km in 2mins 40s and complete the final 400m in 65s! 

With all his experience, discipline and talent, we have no doubt that Eliud has excellent pace judgement in his own right but just to make absolutely sure of perfect pacing, you might have noticed that the electric pace vehicle shone a laser on the road to set a precise running speed:



This laser set an exact pace of 1:59:50 to follow (giving him 10 seconds spare in case he stumbled on the run-in to the finish).

Pacing isn't "sexy" like a cool pair of running shoes or a fancy swim-skin but the fact is that every world record in any distance event has been set using even pacing or a slight negative split, where the second half is running slightly quicker than the first. If you want your best times in training or in races then you too should aim for precise pacing - it's absolutely essential.

So good pacing is important but what can you use as a guide if you don't have a budget running into millions giving you laser guiding technology? Actually in pool swimming it's really easy to achieve the same thing as the lasers gave Eliud - significantly easier than in running, cycling or almost any other endurance sport.

The solution is a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. This small yellow beeper sits under your cap and sets a perfectly even pace for you to swim:

Set it and pop it under your cap by your ear!
Get yours here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/finis-tempo-trainer-pro

If you are in a 25m pool and want to swim at 2 minutes per 100m (which could be your own personal equivalent of 2 hour marathon pace!) then you set the Tempo Trainer to beep every 30 seconds. Swim at 1:30 /100m? Easy, program it to 22.5 seconds.

Using it is a cinch: Wait for the beep, start swimming and pace your effort so you turn and push off the wall when the beep goes. The first time you use one you'll immediately realise how easy it is to go off too fast and then consequently how hard it is to stay with beeper over longer distances! If Eliud had done that he would have fallen well short of the record with all the world's media watching him.

The important thing to appreciate with a Tempo Trainer Pro is that it gives you real time feedback as you swim. Reviewing your splits back retrospectively on your watch is far less valuable as it's way too late to do anything about your pacing after the session!

Beneficial To Training Not Just Racing

Here's another thing - although pacing is super important in races for best performance, it's arguably even more important in training. That's because well paced training sets give you much more fitness improvements than sets where you start too fast and then tail off.

This is why we use Tempo Trainer Pros so extensively at Swim Smooth. In the SS Guru (our virtual swim coach) we determine the pace you should be swimming for any given training session based on your own individual level of fitness at that moment in time. Then the Guru tells you the number to put in the Tempo Trainer to achieve this pace. Place it under your swimming cap and voila!, you have pacing as good as Eliud Kipchoge:



You can think of this system like a virtual training partner, not only does it set the pace for you but it keeps you honest and motivated throughout the swim - genius!

For pacing as good as Eliud Kipchoge, add the Finis Tempo Trainer to your swim bag now and follow one of our pacing sessions on the Guru to nail your pacing for your next swim.


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