Hannah - A "Normal" Swimmer With 813,703 Views On YouTube

If you are quite new to swimming it can be a bit intimidating watching elite swimmers on YouTube. How can you relate to someone who's super tall, super strong, super flexible and was born with a set of gills? Sometimes it seems pointless watching someone like that when they're such a league apart from your own swimming?

With that in mind, almost exactly 9 years ago to the day, we released the following video of Hannah swimming on Youtube. Hannah's doesn't have an elite swimming background but has got a nice (but not perfect) stroke that is well worth studying. If you haven't seen this clip before then take a watch and see what you can learn:

In terms of Swim Type, Hannah very much started life as a Bambino but has developed her swimming over time under SS Head Coach Paul Newsome's guidance in Perth. In the years after filming this clip she went on to swim the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim and the 22km Cook Strait! Amazing achievements for someone with very little swimming experience.

Obviously developing her stroke technique and swim fitness (you need a lot of fitness to swim 20km through rough waters!) is absolutely key to her achievements. But it's also worth nothing how much fun Hannah has in the water whenever she swims (clearly visible at the beginning and end of the footage).

Don't neglect this side of your swimming. Being in the water should bring a sense of joy, a release from the pressures of daily life. That positive attitude brings the consistency to your swim training which is absolutely key to improving.

Want to swim like Hannah? You too need one of our hand picked, super-friendly, highly experienced and extensively trained Swim Smooth Coaches. Find your nearest coach here:

OK Han, can you swim for the camera now please?

Swim Smooth!

Addicted To Your Pull Buoy? OK Let's Strike You A Deal

Yeah we hear from guys like you all the time: I'm much faster with a pull buoy and I find myself reaching for it all the time. Is this a problem? I hate swimming without it and I'll be racing in my wetsuit which also brings my legs up.
Do you never go to the pool without it?

To which we reply: Yes you should ween yourself off it because it's just masking a poor body position. To get your legs up you need to develop your leg kick technique and you can't do that while using a pull-buoy. Also, swimming with it is so much easier you can de-condition aerobically.

But we know that many of you ignore that advice and continue to reach for your pull buoy whenever things get challenging. If that's you, let's strike a deal with you:

Here's the new rule:

Whenever you swim with your pull-buoy you have to breathe bilaterally (either every 3, 5 or 7 strokes).

Given the type of swimmers who are addicted to pull-buoys, it's unlikely you would breathe bilaterally out of choice. But the pull buoy makes bilateral easier for any swimmer, so that's the compromise we'll make with you.

Bilateral is good for your swimming because:

- It helps you develop even body rotation to both sides.
- It helps you develop your catch because you are only breathing 1 in 3 strokes on each arm.
- It reduces the likelihood of a crossover in front of your head, particularly when breathing.
- It reduces the likelihood of a scissor kick developing.
- It helps you develop a better exhalation technique underwater.
- You will swim straighter in open water.

More on why bilateral is so beneficial here: www.feelforthewater.com/2019/05/and-now-case-for-bilateral-breathing.html

So if you find yourself reaching for that pull-buoy when the going gets tough, tell yourself "OK foam friend, bilateral it is". That's the deal.

Some further thoughts:

- A pull buoy makes bilateral easier but so does a wetsuit (even more so in fact) so make sure you breathe bilaterally in open water too.

- Is you get used to it with the pull buoy, introduce bilateral in your normal (non-pull buoy) swimming too, the more you can do this the better.

- Keep trying to ween yourself off the pull-buoy for all the reasons we mentioned above. As your swimming improves, swimming without it will get progressively easier.

- Consider using buoyancy shorts as an alternative to swimming with a pull-buoy. They are a little harder to put on and take off but buoyancy shorts allow you to swim with your full stroke, develop your leg kick and keep aerobic condition in your kicking muscles. We discussed this previously here: www.feelforthewater.com/2016/06/announcing-new-huub-kickpant.html

Swim Smooth!

Special Offer - Get A Free SS Cap With Every Swim Smooth Beach Towel!

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere so make sure you're looking your smoothest with our Swim Smooth branded beach towel available in our swim shop:

Royal blue and 100% woven cotton, it's the perfect size to take to the pool, beach or lay out proudly in transition.

Until Friday 5th July you receive a free Swim Smooth Cap of your choice with every towel ordered!

Just add one of each to the cart and you'll see the promotion automatically applied:

Order now, only while stocks last!

Why Not Choose One Of Our Unique Reversible “Mood” Caps?

Choose one of our conventional swim caps with your beach towel, or select our brand new invention - the reversible "mood" cap!

This is a unique cap that can be worn inside or out depending on how you feel.

Feeling good and ready to lead your lane? Wear the blue side out to: "Get your Game Face On!"

A little fatigued or saving yourself for another session? Wear the orange side out, after all: "A Race Day. Every Day. Is Not!"

Developed for our squad swimmers in Perth to let Head Coach Paul Newsome know how they're feeling and now available to you wherever you are in the world!

Buy yours here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/swim-smooth-silicon-swim-cap

Swim Smooth!

Swim *Smooth* - What's In A Name?

At the very core of Swim Smooth's coaching lies two fundamental tenets:

- There's no universal best stroke style that everyone should swim with.

- To reach your potential in the water, you need an individual approach that takes into account what works for you personally.

There's no better example of this philosophy in action than Swim Smooth's recognition that there are two classic stroke styles (not one) used by elite swimmers - the "Swinger" and the "Smooth".

However, this potentially brings us to a position of slight conflict... Does the name Swim Smooth suggest that you should exclusively aim to swim with the Smooth stroke style? We hope not but agree it could be confusing at first sight.

Let's clarify!

A great "Smooth", such as Jono Van Hazel certainly looks pleasing on the eye:

(click video to see full clip)

Looking past the aesthetics, notice the strong sense of rhythm in his stroke, something that is absolutely key to moving him through the water effectively.

Now take a look at a classic Swinger stroke - performed here by SS Coach Anna-Karin Lundin:

(click video to see full clip)

Anna-Karin's a phenomenal swimmer who went to the 1988 Olympic Games. Despite being a Swinger and using that straighter arm recovery style combined with a shorter stroke and a faster turnover, all her movements are still inherently *smooth*.

This fluid, continuous (and yes smooth) movement is deep at the core of how all great swimmers progress through the water - whether of the Swinger or Smooth type. We see no conflict - look past the aesthetics and both styles have inherent smoothness when performed well.

So can you "Swing Smooth"? - yes absolutely you can! When performed well the Swinger style has just as much fluidity and smoothness as the Smooth type - even though it might not be the first thing that immediately strikes you about the stroke.

Swim Smooth!

What Should You Think About During Your Big Race?

Trust in your plan to settle your pre-race nerves
It's the middle of June and if you are living in the northern hemisphere then you're likely to be building up to your key race of the season sometime in the coming weeks.

You've been preparing diligently, working on your stroke technique, you swim fitness and open water skills. But come race day and the gun going off, what should you actually think about whilst you swim to perform at your very best?

We suggest you make a (very) short list of one, two or three things to rotate through in your mind during the race. Pre-plan this list and you can be confident going to the start line about what you are going to do and think. Don't choose more than three!

Remember to only think about one thing at a time - if you have several items on your list then rotate through them in turn, spending about 10 seconds on each for the duration of the event.

Here's some ideas you might want to choose from and why each might be right for you :

- Breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe... Most people are nervous at the start of any race (and particularly an open water swim) so what's the first thing they instinctively do? Hold their breath! Holding your breath builds up excess CO2 in your system which can easily lead to a panic attack. Make sure you exhale smoothly and continuously into the water from the very start of the race and combine it with bilateral breathing timing using Swim Smooth's most famous mantra: Breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe.

- Straight-bubble-bubble-straight. A variation of breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe but instead of thinking "breathe" when breathing, think "straight" to keep focus on what that lead arm is doing as it enters and extends forwards underwater. Choose this if you know you have a crossover in your stroke when your breathe. The mantra will help reduce the crossover and in turn help you swim straighter.

A "crossover" is where the lead arm crosses the centre line in front of the head

- Tap Your Big Toes. This is perfect for anyone with a scissor kick or any issue with their kicking technique. As you swim brush your big toes lightly as they pass each other - make sure this is a continuous and regular tap-tap-tap-tap. Any gap in the taps (especially when you breathe) indicates a scissor kick!

A scissor kick is like opening a parachute behind you!
It most commonly happens when you breathe.

- Am I going too fast? Nearly everyone starts their race too fast and then slows down progressively through the race losing more time overall than they ever gained at the start. Especially in the first half of the swim, continuously ask yourself if you are going too fast and if you can realistically sustain this pace. If you missed it first time around, check out our classic The Gradual Crescendo blog post on this subject.

- Think: Rhythm, Range, Relax... Rhythm, Range, Relax... This is a nice mantra for stronger swimmers who may feel a little frantic at the start of a race, or when encountering choppy conditions which are throwing them off their game. Rhythm is absolutely key to great open water swimming. Keep the Range in your stroke from extension out front to finishing at the thigh. And stay Relaxed even when working hard.

Remember less is more when picking your list. Choose the items that will make the biggest difference to you and remember the golden rule: only ever think about one thing at a time.

Have an awesome race!

Swim Smooth!

Let's Get Real - You're Not Ian Thorpe

If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you'll know that the great Ian Thorpe is one of our favourite swimmers.

The Pride of Australia: The great Ian Thorpe
winning the 200m freestyle at the Athens Olympics
Here's a fascinating quote from Thorpie's autobiography This Is Me, where he talks about counting his strokes in a 50m pool:

I also aim to reduce the stroke count (during technique sessions). I've got it down to 24 per lap which is about as low as I want it to get. I could reduce it by another four strokes but the danger is that I'd get to the point where I'm gliding rather than swimming efficiently.

Ian's talking about deliberately taking fewer strokes per length during a technique set but simultaneously warning us about the dangers of gliding.

But here's the really interesting point: When racing, Ian actually took 30-32 strokes per 50m. From the quote above we know that's a full 10-12 strokes more than he could do if he wanted to. Here he is winning the 200m at the Athens Olympics (wearing the black suit):

So whilst Thorpie has an exceptionally long smooth stroke, it isn't anywhere near as long as he could make it if he wanted to. The right stroke length for him is a full 10-12 strokes more than his minimum!

From the underwater view you get a real impression of the power and positivity he's putting into his stroke:

If you have been watching swimmers like Thorpe and thinking that the secret to better swimming is to make your stroke as long as possible then sit up and take notice. Just like Ian, your optimal point of swimming when you are at your fastest and most effective is not your minimum stroke count, it's a place a little shorter when you have strong rhythm and purpose to your stroke.

One Secret Is The Kick - The Fins Test

Try swimming 50m normally and count your strokes. Now don a large pair of fins and swim 50m again. How many fewer strokes did you take? You'll be anywhere from 3 to 12 fewer!

Did you know that Ian could kick 100m (with a kickboard) in under 70 seconds? That's almost certainly faster than you could whilst wearing those large fins. Try it if you like!

So one of the reasons Ian's got such a long stroke is that his kick is super-powerful, way stronger than 99% of age group swimmers, even if they are wearing fins. Having size 17 feet makes buying shoes difficult but is epic when it comes to swimming!

But it's not just his kick of course... Are you 1.95m (6'5") tall? Do you have super long arms? Hands like paddles? Do you have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast to stretch into extreme positions? Do you swim 12 times per week?

Only if you can answer yes to all those questions (and you can kick 100m without fins in 70 seconds) should you reasonably expect to match Thorpie and take 30-32 strokes per 50m.

Of course, the further you are away from having Ian Thorpe like attributes, the shorter your optimum stroke is going to be. That doesn't mean you can't swim very well yourself - far from it - but you need to swim at the optimal stroke length for yourself, which like Ian is significantly shorter than your minimum stroke count.

Swim Smooth!

Experiential Learning With Scull #1

Hello from sunny Mallorca where Paul Newsome, Adam Young and the rest of the Swim Smooth team are running two editions of our 3 Day Coach Education Course, with twenty coaches on each course.

Here's the group shot from the first course:

Perhaps the hardest area of freestyle technique to coach is developing a swimmer's catch technique. With that in mind, we have the coaches spend some time in the water working through some key drills and exercises focusing on developing a swimmer's propulsive technique.

One of these drills is the Scull #1 drill, an excellent exercise to develop your feel for the water at the front of the stroke. Check out the following short clip of the coaches trying this and under Paul's guidance experimenting with different stroke flaws (which might be present in your own stroke) to feel the effect:

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

The next time you swim try this same sequence yourself (outlined below) but first make sure you've mastered the basic Scull #1 drill:

The Scull #1 Drill

Use a Pull Buoy (make sure you don't kick) and have your chin on the surface:

If you have sinky legs you might need a larger pull-buoy such as a HUUB Big Buoy to keep your legs up in this position.

Lightly scull the water left and right in front of your head. Move your hands down in the water so that your elbow is higher than your wrist and the wrist is higher than your fingertips.

The key is to angle (pitch) the hand so that your hand is angled slightly inwards when sculling in and angled outwards when sculling outwards:

Get this right and you should move slowly through the water. Remember only to scull left and right - don't scoop backwards, that's breaststroke and definitely cheating!

Finally (and importantly for the experimentation below) keep your fingers together and hold the fingers and hand flat with a little firmness or "tone". About the same level of tone as you would use during a handshake - that's a "regular gentleman's handshake" not a "bone-crusher"!

You can see a quick video of Scull #1 here:

And if you are a Guru subscriber, watch our full drill video with complete coaching points here:

Experimenting With Scull #1

Now we get to the experiment the coaches ran. Give this sequence a try the next time you swim:

- Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Keep sculling but spread your fingers wide on both hands - what happens? Do you lose feel for the water and speed?

- Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Let your hand and fingers go limp - again do you lose feel for the water and speed? Some coaching programs actually teach you to hold your hands loosely - this exercises proves why you need to keep some tone and hold the hand flat without cupping.

Perform 5 meters of regular Scull #1

- Still sculling, bring your fingertips up and show the palm forwards. Many people (particularly Overgliders) try to overly lengthen their stroke and get into this position when they swim:

What happens now? Moving backwards? Feel your legs dropping?

You Can't Beat Experiential Learning

Sculling is a fantastic drill for developing your catch and feel for the water but it also allows you to experiment and find out what moves you forwards and what keeps you high in the water.

Remember everything you discover performing the drill will have the same effect on your full freestyle stroke too - so make those corrections to improve the effectiveness of your freestyle.

Swim Smooth!

Do You Love The Smell Of Chlorine In The Morning?

Here's a quick fact that may surprise you. Despite training consistently and diligently, less than half the swimmers in the Swim Smooth Squads in Perth race competitively, either in the pool or open water:

It's not easy getting to the pool at 5:30am in winter for a hard 4km set and yet they do:

These guys don't need a specific goal to motivate themselves, they just enjoy being in the water and swimming with their friends in a structured, motivating, fun environment:

That doesn't mean they don't train hard (in fact they train incredibly hard) and they are all achieving a high level of swimming.

Sure it's important to keep fit and healthy through the great sport of swimming but actually for these swimmers it goes much deeper than that. It's time out from the daily pressures of work and supporting the family for a while. In short, swimming "keeps them sane".

If you recognise yourself in this bracket then huge kudos to you. You are part of a growing number of people who swim just because they love it and what the pleasure of training brings. Life, after all, is a journey not a destination.

Let's keep smelling that chlorine and doing what we love!

Swim Smooth!

Get Inspired By The Amazing Stephanie Dixon!

What an interview we have lined up for you today! SS Head Coaches Paul and Adam chat with Stephanie Dixon, 19-time Paralympic swimming medallist and world record holder from Canada, who recently attended our 3-day Coach Education Course in Portland at Nike World HQ:

Stephanie (second from right) with SS Coaches Mike Jotautas, Adam Young, Paul Newsome and Mary Jessey

This wonderfully warm, open and charismatic athlete will teach us all more than a few things about living a life of balance, acceptance and making the absolute most with what you've got. Stephanie's motto is to recognise that we are all "enough" with whatever we've been born with, to whomever our parents and environment might be, it's what you make of that that really counts.

Despite missing her right leg from birth, her body has developed a balanced, streamlined and symmetrical swimming stroke which in Steph's words, allows her to "swim like a mermaid":

You can see the full footage of Steph's stroke and hear Adam and Paul's thoughts on it here: https://youtu.be/RCCykBPqgUo

And listen to the interview in Episode 16 of the SS Podcast on your favourite platform:

The first 2 minute intro is well worth re-listening to at any time you're feeling a little low and need a little lift and perspective in your life! We hope you really enjoy this cracking interview!

Swim Smooth!

SS Podcast Episode 15 - David Davies, Britain's Olympic medallist In The Pool And Open Water!

Yes Adam and Paul are back with episode 15 of the Swim Smooth Podcast! This week our special guest is no other than David Davies, Britain's only male Olympic medallist in the pool and open water.

Despite Dave appearing to swim with (in his words) a "spider" stroke, his childhood coach Dave Haller recognised that this was the way that Dave was meant to swim - changing this would be detrimental to his performance.

Dave competes in the 1500m at the 2012 British Gas Swimming Championships

Paul and Adam are speaking to you from
Perth, Australia and Cambridge, UK

It's only when faced with his third Olympic Games in his home country and the prospect of going from Bronze to Silver to (hopefully) Gold was Dave tempted to alter his stroke and approach... What happened? Dave discusses this in a very candid manner which you will find super interesting.

Dave is one of the nicest blokes you're ever likely to speak to, so it was a great privilege to speak with him on this show - we hope you enjoy!

Listen to the podcast on your favourite platform:

Please give us a rating on iTunes if you enjoy the show!

Swim Smooth!

And Now The Case For Bilateral Breathing

Last week on the blog we took a detailed look at the "Classic Unilateral Breather Stroke" having the following faults:

- Over-rotation on the breathing side
- Leading to a crossover at the front of the stroke
- Leading to a scissor kick at the rear
- Very poor catch when breathing
- Under rotation to the never-breathing side

Here it is in action again:

This pattern of over-rotation when breathing and the consequential crossover, scissor kick and poor catch are incredibly common to see with single sided breathers in swimming pools around the world. This lack of symmetry in the stroke also means the swimmer will veer off course in open water losing them yet more time.

A big thanks to the 100+ of you who emailed/tweeted/commented to say this is a cycle that you're stuck in with your own swimming and that you don't know how to break out of it. Today's blog is dedicated to you and getting you out of that "rut" for good!

The Case For Bilateral Breathing

You could continue to only ever breathe to your favoured side and work on directly correcting that list of faults you have developed... That is tempting as it feels like the easier way but it actually isn't - without removing the fundamental cause of your stroke issues (unilateral breathing) these faults are going to be extremely hard to address and will keep coming back over time.

Instead our strong recommendation to you is that you work on developing your breathing pattern such that you regularly swap breathing sides. There are various breathing patterns you can use to achieve that but for most swimmers we suggest classical bilateral breathing (breathing every 3 strokes).

Of course, not every unilateral breather has these faults and if you are a talented swimmer who has come through a strong swimming program as a junior then you might well be swimming well despite only ever breathing to one side. We would still encourage you to make the change to bilateral in your training even if you choose to single-sided breathe when racing -  it will help you maintain and refine your stroke over your lifetime of swimming and that can only be a good thing.

What might a swimmer look like who has really mastered this in the swimming? Look no further than our very own Jono van Hazel with his mesmerising stroke:

The balance and symmetry in Jono's stroke is stunning! You can watch the full clip here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3HhNlysFDs and see him underwater in the Guru (subscription required) : www.swimsmooth.guru/video/ln/jono-van-hazel/

What does Jono himself say about bilateral breathing? We had a quick chat with him about that right after filming:

Paul: How do you keep your stroke so smooth? We noticed you breathing bilaterally all the time. Is that something you regularly do in training?

Jono: Yes definitely I find that as long as you can keep both sides of the body as even as possible, sometimes you might breathe twice on one side and then take three strokes and then twice on the other. You keep that feeling of evenness in mind it tends to help smooth out the stroke.

That's awesome but to be honest we're not focusing on elite swimmers here, we are discussing normal adult swimmers like yourself that make up 99% of the swimming population. For you, only ever breathing to one side will be seriously holding you back.

Unlocking Bilateral Breathing

OK, we're through the pre-amble, let's get to central point here. You understand the potential benefits of bilateral breathing but you've tried it, found it too hard and given up. So how do you crack it?

Here's three key elements you need in place to unlock bilateral breathing:

1. Good Exhalation Technique Is Essential

Breathing in water is fundamentally different from breathing on land because you have to overcome the water pressure when you exhale. You'll hear it said "breathe every 2 strokes because you need the oxygen!" but the truth is that the hard thing isn't getting in oxygen but getting CO2 out.

If you breathe every two strokes then the period of time you have to exhale is small - by the time you've overcome the water and got your exhalation going you're out of time and are rotating to breathe in again. This means you never exhale properly and are always breathing on the top of your lungs, building up the CO2 levels in your system, which makes you feel short of air and even panicky.

The key is to give yourself time to exhale and for most swimmers breathing every 3 strokes is about the right amount of time. Learn to exhale continuously and smoothly into the water (it should feel like sighing) and your breathing becomes much more efficient. When you do inhale you'll get a decent breath in with plenty of oxygen to keep you swimming.

Blow them bubbles... it'll be the end of your troubles.

2. Avoid An Overly Long Slow Stroke

After poor exhalation, the second big reason why swimmers struggle to develop bilateral breathing is that their stroke rate is very slow and so it's a long time between 3 strokes to breathe. If your stroke rate is around 53 SPM or lower then this is likely to be an issue for you.

The Overglider Swim Type exhibits such low stroke rates and is particularly prone to this. If you fall into this category then by developing your catch technique, not only will you gain better propulsion but your stroke rate will naturally lift making bilateral breathing possible again.

Swimming is a cyclical motion and should be conducted with a sense of rhythm and purpose - it turns out this helps your breathing too!

3. Rotating Better To Your Non-Dominant Side

As we discussed last week, if you only ever breathe to one side then rotation to that side becomes greater and greater, and rotation to your non-breathing side becomes less and less.

You should be rotating your shoulders and hips to 45-60 degrees on both sides on every stroke and when you do that you can simply turn your head into the bow wave to breathe:

However, if you under-rotate because you never normally breathe to that side then you have to twist your neck a long way to find that pocket of air. Imagine trying to twist your head from this position to the surface and how awkward that would feel:

To develop more rotation, as you rotate to your "bad" side to breathe, think about rotating your hips a little more. You could try repeating the mantra to yourself as you swim: one-two-roll-one-two-roll... stroking on the one and two and breathing on the roll.

Get this right and breathing to your "bad" side will feel much less awkward. Plus as your rotation starts to develop to that side, your recovering arm will come less round the side and more up and over the top, meaning its momentum is less likely to cause a crossover in front of your head. And no crossover means no corresponding scissor kick either - all without you having to think about it. That's the power of bilateral!

Getting Past Strange - The 6 Week Bilateral Breathing Hump

Any new movement pattern will take a while to learn and you have to recognise that and be a little persistent. If you swim 3 or 4 times per week this period of "strangeness" will last about 6 weeks, we call that the 6 Week Bilateral breathing Hump. Get past the hump and breathing to your bad side will start to feel much much more natural.

The good news is that although that feeling of strangeness can take a little while to get through, the gains you receive can be immediate. Last week on the blog we mentioned how pro triathlete Sam Warriner found she was 3-4 seconds per 100m quicker breathing to her bad side! Also check this blog with pro athlete Joel Jameson who found the exact same thing: www.feelforthewater.com/2013/03/joel-uses-his-bad-side-to-come-good.html

Be committed and persistent for 6 weeks (18 swims) and you'll get the gains.

Use The Power Of The Guru

Swim Smooth's amazing virtual coach is called The Guru - if you don't have access to a local Swim Smooth coach in your area then it's the perfect way to develop your swimming. You can use the Guru to correct any stroke fault and as you'd expect it contains our full process for developing bilateral breathing, including all the drills, visualisations and sessions you need to crack it:

Subscribers can jump right to the bilateral process here: www.swimsmooth.guru/sequence/cpW/conquering-bilateral-breathing/

Fault fixers, training plans, learn-to-swim program and our famous individual approach - if you haven't tried the Guru yet, now is the time! For more information and to signup visit: www.swimsmooth.guru

Beyond Classical Stroke Technique - Creating A Truly Versatile Swimmer

We came into this post promoting bilateral breathing to you as a way of improving your basic stroke mechanics. But the ability to breathe comfortably to both sides and being able to switch sides at will is much more than that, it's also about versatility.

A versatile breather can strategically:

- Switch breathing sides to keep an eye on a key competitor or to draft effectively to the side of them.
- Switch breathing sides to avoid looking into a blinding sun.
- Switch breathing sides to avoid breathing towards a side swell in open water.
- Breathe bilaterally to maintain perfect symmetry and swim arrow-straight in open water.

There's no better example of the importance of this versatility than the famous "Race Of The Century" at the 2004 Athens Olympics where Ian Thorpe defeated Pieter van den Hoogenband and and Michael Phelps in the 200m freestyle. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8YP7vU_UQQ

Thorpie celebrates - you see breathing to both sides can make you happy!

Throughout the race Thorpe swaps breathing sides, always breathing towards his arch rival van den Hoogenband to keep a close eye on him and judge his position to him. He judges his effort perfectly and over the last 50m he overtakes van den Hoogenband to win the race. There's absolutely no way that Thorpie could have done that without regularly practising breathing to both sides in training.

At Swim Smooth we believe that beyond having great basic stroke mechanics and being fast through the water, one of your goals as a swimmer should be to create versatility in your swimming such that whatever environment or strategic situation you are in, you are able to adapt and excel in it.

There will also be a time in your swimming life when that versatility will move you up the field, converting second pack to first pack, or even a silver medal to a gold.

Swim Smooth!

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