How We Blew-up YouTube With Our Viral Analysis Of Ariarne Titmus vs. Katie Ledecky In The Women’s 400m Freestyle Final

Watch below and remember to give us a “like” and a subscribe for our analysis of Australian Ariarne Titmus’s triumphant first victory over the legendary Katie Ledecky.

Listen in as Head Coach Paul Newsome discusses Ariarne’s unusual breathing and pacing strategy as well as discussing Coach Dean Boxall’s jubilant dance moves in this 9 minute video which shot to #37 on the whole of YouTube’s trending list on Monday - our most popular video ever - we hope it brings you some great insight on how you too can learn to race your own race like Ariarne, even in the shadow of a legend:

So famous in Australia right now that they’ve already made Ariarne a stamp!

Swim Smooth!

What Can A Swim Smooth Coach Do For Your Swimming?

At Swim Smooth our mission is to help everyone swim better, wherever they are in the world and whatever their level of swimming. 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.

17 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 Swim Smooth 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:

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:

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.

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:

Swim Smooth!

"Gather the water" - Your Key Visualisation To A Better Catch!

Have you ever been taught to lengthen your stroke as much as possible in order to be more efficient? We bet you have - it might have been by your well-meaning master's swim coach, or you may have even watched a YouTube video espousing the merits of reducing your stroke count to those of the elite swimmers of the world, or perhaps even just some foggy, distant memory of your school swimming teacher telling you to “glide and pause” - don’t worry, we've heard and seen it all!

The truth is though, that elite swimmers don't pause and glide and they certainly don't reach up towards the surface of the water and artificially try to make their stroke longer, they instead "gather the water" and press it back behind them.

Today, we've prepared this special video clip for you as you are starting to return to the swimming pools and your favourite open water venue with the gradual (and thankful!) relaxing of some of the pandemic restrictions of the last year or so.

The swimmers in the clip are using the Finis Agility Paddles which Head Coach, Paul Newsome, quips about how he wishes it was the one thing he'd personally invented given their effectiveness at showing you how to truly "gather the water" - here’s the video: 

You can buy your pair in the Swim Smooth shop here:

We hope you enjoy - please show your appreciation by liking the video and subscribing to our channel - thank you!

Swim Smooth!


How To Teach Children To Swim Smoothly - We Need Your Support!

Swim Smooth Coach Gabriela Minarikova is Swim Smooth's specialist in kids coaching and has written a unique book How To Teach Children To Swim Smoothly.

Whilst currently only available in the Czech language, this is a richly illustrated book with rhymes and easy-to-understand descriptions of how every child can learn to swim fast, well, playfully and with enthusiasm. The book works as a practical guide for parents who want to teach their child to swim on their own.

This brilliant work is shortly to be translated into English, the only issue is that she needs your support to do that and to get in into print. Gabi is based in Prague and has been working on converting all of Swim Smooth's brilliant coaching methods from adult coaching to make them perfect for kids development in all four strokes.

Find out more about this exciting project here:

Also please support Gabi on her crowd funding page (in Czech but soon to be available in English):

Over to Gabi:

How did it begin?

My daughter is to blame for everything and my desire to indulge her in the best, lead her to swim, teach her to love water and move in the water smoothly - as naturally as sea creatures! I teach her through play, which is very effective and quite different from how most adults learn through drills.

I started writing a swimming instruction methodology for my swim school which I founded in 2013. Now our methodology of swimming with Plavel and Plavlína is ready and it wins the hearts of swimmers. Hundreds of children have already successfully passed our courses, and we have helped those whose parents thought they would never learn to swim. Every day we huge changes in the children on our courses but unfortunately we also see parents trying to teach their children to swim on their own. In general they struggle to do that - it would be much better if they knew how to do it and respected a few simple principles. And that is what this book is all about.

What is our goal?

We know that with this book we make children's swimming better, it will help many parents, as well as fellow teachers and coaches, and especially children who struggle in the water, do not enjoy it or are even afraid of it. I know that all children can be water lovers and swimming champions. I really wish that as many children as possible could learn to swim in this friendly, respectful and very effective way. Unfortunately with many of the covid restrictions around the world so many swim schools are shut and lessons are impossible unless they are "self-taught".


The book show you step by step methods, progressing from easy to hard. Playfully and with the help of two little heroes Plavl and Plavlína, who love water so much that they are named after it. With stories, rhymes, pictures and captions that everyone can understand. This is modern learn to swim, so that the child does not even know they are learning. Your child's progress will be smooth and effective.

Impatience is a big pitfall for inexperienced parents and swimming teachers. Rushing your child to swimming a common mistake - patience is required to make your child an excellent swimmer.

Really everyone 😊needs the eight basic rules. To learn to love water, to live with it perfectly, to be a friend of it who can get in and out safely. Breathe properly in the water, move in all directions, lie on it and let yourself float. Jump, dive, orient yourself below the surface, stroke the water and have the feeling to grab it. Only then start with the first swimming stroke... and much more.

Believe me I know, I nearly drowned once when I was 4 years old. Fortunately, everything turned out well and water is an inseparable friend for me now.

Who are we?

I'm mainly a mum but I'm also a first class swimming coach, a first class medical swimming instructor, a certified Swim Smooth coach, the founder of the swimming school of the same name and the section where I work as chairwoman and head coach. I am still an active swimmer and athlete. I participated in the Czech Swimming Championships in the student category and the World Championships in the Masters category. I love water, I love training and I love working with children. I like to do everything meaningfully and most importantly do the best I can! :)

Why are we doing this?

Supporting this book as a parent gives you the guide you need to develop your child's swimming and I really thank you very much for your contribution. We have already tried to publish the book through reputable publishers but unfortunately we have encountered such unacceptable requirements that we have decided to go the route of our own publication and ask you for a contribution to the direct costs associated with the publication. We do not include the author's fee.


What Goes Through Your Head In Those 30 Seconds Before You Commence Your Swim?

 What goes through your head in those 30 seconds before you commence your swim, be it in the #swimmingpool or #openwater?

Is if fear? Fear about what? How you’ll feel? How you’ll perform? Whether it’s too cold? What’s swimming around you?

Or is it excitement? A crazy craving to get in and smash out a new PB? Maybe just to feel the exhilaration of being in the water? The opportunity and potential to get away from it all for a while?

Or is it concern? Worries that you should be doing something else? Maybe you should really be at work? Or with the kids? Whether you left the oven on?

Whatever goes through your head in those final 30 seconds just know that you’re about to experience the unique weightlessness and escapism that only swimming truly offers. Lean into that feeling. Go with the flow. Have purpose but also be flexible to new possibilities or to try a new drill for a change. Enjoy, but don’t force it. And remember in those first 30 seconds to just “bubble-bubble-breathe” and before you know it, whatever trepidation you may have felt in the 30 seconds before you hit the go switch and make your move, will soon be a distant memory anyway!

Swim Smooth!


The Ticking Time Bomb

As you’re probably aware if you’ve been following Swim Smooth for a while now, a key piece of gadgetry for many of our sessions over the last 10 or so years, is the humble Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. 

This little device was originally designed to allow you to manipulate your stroke rate with a regular audio beep to remind you when each hand should enter the water. You could increase or decrease your natural stroke rate depending on what you were trying to achieve with your technique. Despite many misconceptions in the early days with the original version (and its competitor, the Perth-based “Wetronome”) as being “only for the PROs”, we’ve found it to be brilliantly effective with all levels of swimmer, especially those learning to develop better rhythm and timing in their stroke as it helps to remove a lot of the “over thinking” commonly attributed to developing your stroke. 

Over the years we’ve posted a lot on various ways of how to use the Tempo Trainer Pro (this post being particularly popular: ) and within the new Swim Smooth platform, once you’ve inputted your CSS pace, for any of the 1,000+ training sessions you can elect to choose from (or even follow a bespoke training plan for your next event), you’ll be shown exactly what setting to use and what pace, cycle time or stroke rate to input based on your own metrics. This is something our Swim Smooth Coaches can seemingly do for their Squad swimmers blindfolded, but if you’re training by yourself, a little bit of a nudge in the right direction is always useful!

This week here in Perth our swimmers tackled another version of the infamous 5km Red Mist session in the pouring rain. To add a little gamification to the set, we used a method which we affectionately refer to as a “ticking time bomb”. 

Essentially this is similar to a Red Mist Cycle whereby you have to beat the beeper’s cycle time to achieve some rest (“swimming for your rest” as the Squad like to call it), but with the beeper set to an extended cycle time for a distance of greater than the usual 50m cycle. You work to gain distance and time ahead of the beeper, never quite sure when it’s next going to go off!

For example, if you swam at your CSS pace of 1:40/100m, you’d cover each 50m in 50 seconds, so a Red Mist Cycle of RM5 (50+5 = 55 seconds in this case) would imply that you’d get 5 seconds ahead of the beeper for every 50m you covered. You can elect to swim quicker and get more rest, or most likely in a tough set like the Red Mist session, you’ll be cautiously swimming quick enough to get some rest, but not so quick that you risk blowing up. Sometimes that margin is as fine as just 1 or 2 seconds per 100m!

With our Wednesday session we had a block in Part 1 totalling 1800m which was broken down into 6 x 150m at the equivalent of RM6, 6 x 100m at the equivalent of RM4 and 6 x 50m on RM3. Rather than setting the beeper at the 50m Red Mist Cycle though, in the 150m intervals, the beeper was set at a cycle time that would be the equivalent of RM6 over the whole 150m, meaning the swimmers only heard the beeper at the start of each interval and were tactically swimming at a speed quick enough to beat this “ticking time bomb”, but not so quick that they couldn’t complete the set. It provided a really fun and engaging challenge that is different to using the pool clock as a send off as you can be more accurate and specific to your send off time as well as the nervous excitement of waiting to hear that beep go off! 

Taking our earlier example for that first set of 6 x 150m, this would be 50+6 = 56 seconds, multiply this by 3 (for the 150m distance) and you get 2 minutes and 48 seconds to complete each swim before you need to be ready to set off for the next one. Working out the mental arithmetic for that on the pool clock when you’re under duress would be very difficult, but with the beeper set, it’s easy to focus on your swimming and just wait to hear the beep. 

For the 100m intervals on an equivalent of RM4, this swimmer would need to set their Tempo Trainer in Mode 2 to 1m48s and for the 50m intervals on RM3 down to 53 seconds. All these times include the swim and rest time, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “send off” times. 

If you’re back into the pool and only able to swim a short session due to COVID restrictions, Part 1 could be an excellent bang-for-your-buck session all in its own right! Give it a go and let us know how you get on - better still, swim it using your Apple Watch or Garmin device and get some feedback on how well you actually paced yourself using our Execution Score within the new Swim Smooth platform. 



The Virtuous Feeling of an Early Morning Swim, or the Comfort of Your Covers - the Choice is Always Yours!

Here in Perth, we are starting to go into our colder winter months, and this morning saw one of the first spiralling mists off the gorgeous Claremont Pool. This is an experience our swimmers here are lucky to have in the current pandemic, but today was made all the more special as we’ve just come out of another mini lockdown ourselves. The fact is though, that rather than the winter being a time for Squad numbers to drop off, we actually see the exact opposite - people are actually excited to experience swimming in that environment which tests your mental resolve for rolling out of bed at 5am. In return, you get the benefit of that wonderful sense of feeling supremely virtuous knowing that you got up and did that little thing you loved, when others remained under the comfort of their covers. Well done.

The great British middle distance runner turned politician, Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe CH, KBE, Hon FRIBA (or simply Seb Coe to most people who remember him more for his amazing running prowess!), famously stated that he always made a point of going for a run on Christmas Day knowing that none of his competition would have the drive to do so. Coe believed this would give him the edge. History showed that whatever he did seemed to work, for him.

But what if you’re not chasing Olympic medals and world records? What if you’re just chasing the goal of staying fit and healthy and denying the hands of time their incessant reach to pull you down and leave you resigned to the couch? Take a leaf from 86 year old Barrie Eves, a stalwart of the Swim Smooth Perth Squad. Barrie swims with us every day (sometimes up to an impressive 5km!) and the only thing that he ensures as part of his “pièce de résistance” against old age and slowing down is to “never stop”. Barrie turns up come rain or shine, gets the job done and lives his life in the most virtuous and happy of manners as a result. Something I think we can all learn from. 


Swim Smooth!


HUUB wins Queen's Award for Innovation!

Here at Swim Smooth, we're super excited to announce that our wetsuit partner, HUUB, has just received the coveted Queen's Award for Innovation. Amazing! We'd love to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about the early days when Paul and Adam were visited on a dreary, wet September day in 2011 in Folkestone (UKd) by a true entrepreneurial visionary in the product development aspect of triathlon, Dean Jackson. 

Dean had a plan to fundamentally redesign how wetsuits were made and sought out Paul and Adam's help based on our unique Swim Type coaching methodology, to create a suit that better addressed the needs of a range of different swimmers and triathletes, taking into account varying levels of buoyancy. On the back of a paper napkin, overseen by a world-famous sports scientist and co-founder, Huub Toussaint, the three guys started to craft out what would ultimately become one of the world's leading wetsuit brands.

But before we tell you that story, let's hear from Dean on what this means for the company which today employs 24 passionate HUUBies, has created a world-beating independent cycling team, produces a massive amount of great technical wear, has the world's most famous chef, Gordon Ramsey, as one of its keenest users, and is still based at its home in Derby, UK.

From a Derby garage to Buckingham Palace in just nine years! 

HUUB, which has become a world leader in triathlon gear, has now received Royal approval after being awarded the Queen's Award for Innovation.

The awards are the most prestigious in the UK and celebrate the success of exciting businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services. HUUB was put under the microscope of a stringent panel of judges before they passed their recommendation to Her Majesty for approval.

HUUB's founder, Dean Jackson said, "To be recognised in the Queen's Awards is amazing. I would never have dreamed when starting this business on my kitchen table nine years ago that we would be recognised for what really makes HUUB special... Our innovation!

"We constantly strive to make athletes better and faster and our sport more fulfilling. We are relentless in the pursuit of performance, and innovation sits at the heart of everything we do.

"I'd like to thank the team for driving our ambition and aspirations to be the very best in our field and for believing in the crazy ideas that drive innovation and experimentation.

"There is a saying, 'if you do what you did, you get what you got', and we believe that to make an innovative change, you need to do, think and explore where others have failed to go or failed to see the benefit.

"Winning the Queen's Award is for the whole business. It's a reflection of the team's dedication to pushing thinking and challenging the norm."

Research | Science | Reality

Back on a dreary day in September 2011 as Swim Smooth Head Coach, Paul Newsome, was waiting for the call to swim the English Channel, Paul and Adam were visited in Dover by a true visionary in the product development aspect of triathlon, Dean Jackson. 

Dean had reached out to Swim Smooth to help him create a new range of exciting wetsuits which would be named HUUB after one of Paul's most-admired sports scientists, Professor Huub Toussaint. Dean coined the tagline "Research | Science | Reality" in recognition of Dean's research and understanding of what the triathlon population needed from a new wetsuit at that point, Huub's ability to test and back-up any innovations with his stringent scientific background, and Swim Smooth's work on the reality "coalface" with the swimming and triathlon population in a coaching context.

On the back of a paper napkin in a Costa Coffee in Folkestone, Dean, Paul, Adam, and Shelley Taylor-Smith (7-time world marathon swimming champion who was there to mentor Paul for his big swim), began discussing some new concepts for wetsuit design centred around Swim Smooth's Swim Type coaching methodology. In a coaching sense, we have used this system extensively since 2010 to help our coaches and swimmers determine a starting point for their individual stroke correction needs based on such things as height, build, gender, experience/ability, age, wingspan, etc. Dean was curious to know what we had learned about how these different factors impacted a swimmer's technique, specifically from the point of view of buoyancy profiles in the water. Did different types of swimmers require a different type of wetsuit based on how they normally swim without a suit?

Most people wrongly assume that everyone loves and benefits from the most buoyancy in a wetsuit as is legally allowed, however our own observation, awareness, and thousands of hours working with a range of different swimmers, suggested that this wasn't the case - some people positively hated wearing a wetsuit and resent those who spend the big bucks and suddenly become significantly faster! 

The second wrong assumption people were making if they did believe that there could be a need for different levels of buoyancy between swimmers, was that more buoyancy for a guy would be better than more buoyancy for a female. Again, this assumption - whilst feasibly correct 70% of the time - didn't cover the whole gamut that we were seeing day-in, day-out as coaches. We were observing that wetsuit selection and buoyancy profile could be more closely linked to the swimmer's type (which is gender independent), than their specific gender and the assumption that all female swimmers float better than men.

Let's look at three extreme examples which helped form the basis of two of HUUB's early wetsuit range - the 3:5 Archimedes, the 3:3 Aura, and the 4:4 Aerious:

Our Classic Arnie Swim Type and the 3:5 Archimedes wetsuit:

Typically male, but many female Arnettes do exist, especially those with very lean, muscular frames of the type that might be doing Ironman at a relatively serious level. This is the classic swimmer who loves using a wetsuit as it helps to offset their key stroke flaw, low sinking legs. This swimmer loves using a pull buoy (and eventually buoyancy shorts and HUUB's "kickpant"), because of how this added buoyancy both lifts the legs and keeps them closer together, thus reducing drag. By creatively reducing buoyancy in the upper body of the wetsuit (3mm) and increasing buoyancy around the hips and legs (5mm), the 3:5 Archimedes wetsuit was the ultimate speed weapon for the type of swimmer who is ordinarily limited by their swimming prowess in the pool.

Click image above for a cool comparative wetsuit vs non-wetsuit video with an Arnie

Our Classic Kicktastic Swim Type and the 3:3 Aura wetsuit:

Many assume that everyone loves a wetsuit, but not a Kicktastic! In fact, most Kicktastics are not truly slower when wearing any wetsuit, it's just that they don't see the same gains that their Arnie / Arnette counterparts do and this has been historically frustrating for them. Together with Dean and Huub, we helped create the world's first specifically designed low-buoyancy wetsuit to cater to the fact that a Kicktastic's body profile and horizontal position in the water is already their key strength. Adding more buoyancy than what is necessary to keep the swimmer warm in colder water is simply unnecessary and contributed to the feeling of "unbalance" and awkwardness that a Kicktastic would repeatedly tell us about. The 3mm body combined with the 3mm legs saw a much more balanced position in the water for the Kicktastics who tried the original Aura suit and it soon became known as "the wetsuit for people who hate wetsuits"!

Overly buoyant wetsuit combined with a very strong kick = disaster / frustration

Our Classic Smooth / Swinger Swim Type and the 4:4 Aerious:

Even if you don't have a massively strong leg kick, but swimming is your background, chances are a) your buoyancy without a suit is already pretty good, and b) you want a wetsuit to feel like you're not wearing one! The 4mm body combined with the 4mm legs of the original lower-price-point Aerious became a quick crowd-favourite for those from a swimming background wanting to try triathlon for the first time. In fact, here's Australian National U18 open water swimming champion and this year's 4th place in the open category (narrowly missing a birth to the Tokyo Olympics by just 12 seconds), using a new version of Aerious just this morning in the Swan River here in Perth where we're undergoing another short COVID lockdown - Byron loves this suit!


The HUUB wetsuit range was launched in February 2012 at the London Triathlon Show which we were hugely proud to be part of. Check out the initial release blog here, which shows some of the initial testing and analysis which Adam went to oversee at the hi-tech InnoSportNL facility in Eindhoven.

Further information:

Here are a couple of classic blogs from yesteryear talking about the link-up between your Swim Type and your wetsuit choice:

We would like to send the whole HUUB team a massive round of applause and kudos for what they achieved in such a short space of time - epic stuff!

Swim Smooth


The Secret To A Life Of Happiness And Longevity?

Justyn Barnes, author of the brilliant book Ikigai - the Japanese secret to a life of happiness and longevity states that the word 'ikigai' in the simplest terms describes “value in living” or “reason for living”.

Another beautiful sunrise at Claremont Pool, Perth

Among the myriad interpretations of the word, Barnes states that ikigai can be thought of as “a reason to jump out of bed every morning” and a “springboard for tomorrow”. How true it is that the morning ritual of your swim can be both that reason and something that aids you in your pursuit of your current goal, whatever that may be. 

Ikigai can be seen in its truest form every morning in the pools, lakes, rivers, oceans, seas and lidos right around the world. As the world starts to finally move towards a better place, so too do we hope that your own personal Ikigai can flourish once again.

Swim Smooth!


Using Heatmaps To Improve Your Swimming

Our new digital platform at includes some very special new features to improve your swimming. One of which is the ability to monitor your stroke technique just by wearing an Apple Watch as you swim:

Two years in development, we call this new patent-pending system "Stroke Insights" and it's set to cause a revolution in swim coaching. No only can the system detect faults in your stroke technique but it can predict the time saving you will gain by improving your stroke and help you monitor your improvements over time.

Introducing Heatmaps

During an average swim session you are likely to swim around 1000 strokes with each arm. Using your Apple Watch, the Swim Smooth app records every rotation and acceleration of the watch on your wrist 50 times per second as you swim. Using our special algorithms developed by Swim Smooth's Adam Young, we can track every single stroke you take in three dimensions. You might know Adam as a swim coach but he also has a background in maths and engineering which has made this stroke tracking technology possible.

Using these algorithms, combined with a bio-mechanical model of the human body, we can accurately show you your stroke position at key areas of stroke technique. For instance Perth squad swimmer Phip pulls wide on her left side:

Here's her Stroke Insight for her left side pull through from the Swim Smooth platform:

Notice the dots on the heatmap. Every dot represents a single stroke, so you can see the variation in your stroke technique. There's 300m of data on that heatmap (approx 150 left arm strokes).

Note that the heatmap dots don't show the position of the watch, instead we've calculated the position of the centre of your palm and shown that instead. That's much more interesting from a coaching perspective.

The rendering of the swimmer behind the heatmap shows the most common position in the heatmap, together with a green "target zone" which you should be hitting. Those swimmer images make it easy to interpret but don't ignore the heatmap - very often you can glean extra information from it as we'll discuss below.

Heatmap Spread

The great thing about a heatmap is that it gives you an idea of the variability in your stroke. Very experienced swimmers tend to have tight heatmaps as their stroke is very repeatable:

But if you are new to swimming you are likely to have much more variability from stroke to stroke and so will see a bigger spread in the datapoints:

Pay attention to that in your own heatmaps, many of your strokes may sit within the target zone but others may fall outside - this could happen as you get tired or on a breathing stroke.

The Impact Of Breathing

If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you will know that breathing can have a huge effect on your stroke technique. In fact we often say If something is going to go wrong in your stroke, it will happen when you breathe. With heatmaps you can see this change in your stroke really clearly, particularly on your arm recovery and pull-through underwater.

For example here's Myffy's data, who has two really distinct clusters in her pull-through heatmap. The higher cluster is on a normal stroke and is sometimes a little close to her body. The lower cluster is when breathing as her arm collapses downwards giving a deep pull through:

It's clear to see the same thing from her video footage:

It's normally obvious which is the breathing cluster as it shows as a deterioration in technique, typically becoming deeper or wider on the pull through. 

With arm recovery most swimmers rotate their body more when they breathe, bringing their hand higher and possibly more inboard. So clusters representing breathing strokes are normally higher and likely closer to the centre line: 

How Far Should You Swim?

The Swim Smooth app on your Apple Watch collects motion data for up to 90 minutes of swimming so we normally suggest you simply record your entire swim session in full and see the results afterwards. That said, you can record data from a single length of the pool and see a small heatmap for it.

To get data from both sides of your stroke simply swim on one side (we suggest at minimum of 100m but ideally at least 400m) then undo the strap, move to the other wrist and continue swimming. Don't touch any settings, just move it and start swimming again. The watch will detect the wrist change automatically.

Quick tip: Stick to freestyle when swimming on your "opposite" wrist as stroke type detection is less accurate than on your normal wrist.

For further information on how to best use your Apple Watch sign up for a free account at and watch all our introductory videos here:

Here's the system's crossover detection:

Trial Insights Completely For Free

Keen to discover your own heatmaps? Signup for a free trial of our new platform at (there's also an iPhone app here) and we'll analyse three of your swims completely for free to test things out and get you started.

At the moment this technology is only available for Apple Watch users but we hope to be able to bring to other smart watches in the future. You can use any Apple Watch from series 2 onwards (there is no difference in accuracy between devices).

What If I Don't Have An Apple Watch?

Although you need an Apple Watch to get Stroke Insights, the rest of the swim analysis platform (including our extensive training plans) are fully compatible with Garmin.

In fact, you can use Swim Smooth without wearing a watch at all, just tick off training sessions as you go and start to receive coaching feedback from how you are training.

Swim Smooth!

Have a question on Stroke Insights / Heatmaps? Post it in the blog comments here:


7 Effective Strategies to get you back to your swimming post-COVID: lessons learnt in Perth

 A sad sight: many swimming pools all around the world have been closed now for nearly 12 months - hopefully, an end is now in sight!

It seems like an age ago since we posted this video describing how much swim fitness you could expect to lose during the first wave of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it was almost precisely 12 months to the day since we did. Back on the 15th March 2020, here in Perth, we’d been instructed that the wonderful Claremont Swimming Pool would be closed for a period of 4 weeks, and given that many parts of the world also had that similar mindset at that entirely uncertain time, it seemed prudent then that a video about how much swim specific fitness you might lose in a month was probably about right. How wrong we were! 

Whilst the technicalities and physiology of detraining mentioned in the above video still hold value, for many of you, the magnitude of time proved to be way off the mark. However, with the various vaccines around the world now starting to see some positive results and pools in many parts of places like the UK looking set to re-open in April, a return to the pool for many of you is now imminent. 

That all being said, if we have learned anything here in Perth about how our swimmers were initially anxious about their return to the pool (which for us, as mentioned in this blog last month about how fortunate we’ve been here, was June 8th, 2020), we are sure that the following points are likely to be going through your head as you contemplate kicking off your swimming afresh:

  • “How will I feel? Will I be even able to 'feel the water' at all?”
  • “Will all my fitness be completely gone?”
  • “Booking a lane for 45 minutes seems like such a stress and takes the fun out of relaxing into my swim!”
  • “What if I really don’t enjoy the experience?”
  • “Is it still too early? Am I physically at risk?”
  • “What if this just confirms that I’ve found a new affinity for open water swimming - or another sport - and really don’t relish a pool swim any longer?”
  • “What if this is just a temporary re-opening - will I just be wasting my time, effort, and money with so much uncertainty abound?”
  • “How exactly should I get started again?”
  • “What if I injure myself in my first few sessions back?”
  • “With no events on the horizon, is it worth me building up for anything anyway?”

These points were all echoed by our squad here in Perth, and whilst this was now 9 months ago, we hope that the benefit of foresight on how our swimmers over here dealt with these challenges will help you address some of these perspectives yourself as you venture back to the pool.

Loss of feel for the water:

Let’s start off with the aspect of loss of technical skill in the water.

One of our very earliest blogs here at Swim Smooth dating back to September 2009 was “Six is a Magic Number” - which was a short post about how, when getting back into swimming after a period of absence, it will typically take you about six sessions to regain some degree of “feel” and affinity for the water. Usually the first session feels surprisingly good as you will ordinarily place little pressure on yourself to perform well. Just experiencing being back in the water and being grateful to return to the thing that you love will carry you through.

However session two often feels a little worse due to some residual fatigue and maybe the expectation of wanting to achieve something. Then, with a good mental approach, a little tenacity and a commitment to consistency, sessions 3 to 6 will all start to improve. Coach Paul explains this very scenario from back in 2010 when he returned to swimming after a 16 month lay-off as a new parent, in our blog entitled “Dreading Getting Back to the Water?

Loss of swim specific fitness:

Let’s move on to the elephant in the room - swim-specific fitness, and perceived lack thereof.

Back in June 2018 we conducted a little experiment with the Perth Squad entitled "(Project) Going backwards in order to go forwards!” which essentially involved slowing everyone in the Squad down by 2 seconds per 100m on their current CSS times. A few thought this was a silly idea, “why slow us down when we’re already going well?” to which we simply replied, “sometimes, the positive benefit of being able to confidently hit your target times - even if it means you finish a session thinking I have more in the tank - can be highly beneficial as a line in the sand and a place to bounce back from!” 

The experiment worked really well and we were able to bring everyone’s swimming back up to a great point within just 3 or 4 weeks. Chances are you won’t have any idea where your CSS pace currently is upon returning to the pool after such a long hiatus, so the advice here is to be ultra conservative. Say you were at 1:40 per 100m for CSS prior to your lockdown, and that was 12 months ago, be really audaciously cautious and aim for some target paces of say 1:50, or 1:56 or even 2:00 per 100m in sessions 3 to 6 of your Magic Six. It might prove to be way too slow, but if it does, it’s given you a little structure, a little focus and something to start back from. Don’t be in a rush to build back too quick, take your time and use it as a chance to dial in some perfect pacing - that swim specific fitness will come back before you know it!

45 minutes is just too stressful to arrange:

So, what about the perceived stress of 45-minute individual pool bookings being too difficult to organise and not worth it? This did prove to be a bit of a sore spot for many of the swimmers here in Perth, especially as the automated booking system proved to be technically challenging for some. Those that did persist though often had the wonderful opportunity of a whole lane to themselves, and whilst this might be a rather lonely experience initially, we’d encourage you to immerse yourself in this and see it as a chance to see what it feels like for many an elite swimmer on a daily basis. 

You’ll be surprised by what you can fit in within 45 minutes with a well-structured program too. In the new version of the platform, it’s now possible to scale every one of our 1,000+ sessions to a time frame that suits your allotted pool booking spot. The system doesn’t just chop off the start and finish, it intelligently scales the entire session to give you a mini version of what you would do if you had the luxury of a typical 60-90 minute session:

Concerns about enjoyment factors:

First and foremost, COVID has taught many of us to reprioritise things in our lives and to focus on doing what we love above all else. If you are a triathlete, chances are swimming has been your weakest discipline and potentially this has meant that, at times, swimming hasn’t always been as enjoyable as say a ride in the hills with your mates or a run in the park with your dog. It’s very normal therefore that, with a forced hiatus, you might be questioning how much you’re going to enjoy this return to your swimming and whether or not it might be a bit of a letdown.

Try turning this notion around to one of having the opportunity to start afresh with a clean slate and to focus on maybe new areas of your swimming that you haven’t done to date. A great example is developing your ability to breathe bilaterally. This is great for your symmetry and will drastically improve your versatility in the open water. We’ve seen many of our squad swimmers here in Perth do just this and have had fun setting themselves a relatively simple challenge (at least in concept!).

Now might be the perfect time to “carpe diem” for your swimming and turn those concerns into positive actions that you’ll reap rewards for down the line!

Your new-found love of open water swimming:

Last month, here at Swim Smooth, we spoke about how amazed we’ve been that so many of you have turned to the open water in these uncertain times when it might never have been on your radar to swim in icy-cold temperatures pre-pandemic. As a coaching program that focuses primarily on distance freestyle swimming for open water and triathlon events, we think this has been a brilliant outcome for the sport as a whole. But does this mean that swimming in the pool should suddenly be a thing of the past for you? No, we don’t think so, and here’s why - pool swimming:

  • makes it easier to structure a session
  • helps boost swim specific fitness*
  • can be quite meditative to follow the black line and have some simple targets to achieve (as discussed in this new podcast with Coach Paul)
  • complements the joy of swimming in the great outdoors
  • (eventually) makes it easier to meet with friends of varied ability and share the same session experience

* Every February and March here in Perth our 9.30am Squad on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday get disrupted by a conflict with school carnivals being held at the pool. This can affect us for anywhere between 12 and 15 sessions and whilst the swimmers love the change of scenery generally, everyone typically reports a small decay in swim-specific fitness when they return to the pool. This year (for the first time since the 9.30am program began in 2004), we made sure to lock in our Friday 5km “Red Mist Endurance Session” at an alternative pool, which has allowed everyone to maintain their swim-specific fitness in a much better way. It’s not the perfect venue for everyone (as it’s a little further to travel) and the time is 1hr later than normal, but it’s working and that’s the key message here: some of your pool swims might make you feel like you’re missing your new-found open water swimming idylls like a long-lost love interest, but don’t fret, pool + open water = the best of both worlds.

Concerns about injury:

A study done in Australia on 80 of their elite swimmers aged 13-25 found that 91% of them were experiencing shoulder pain. When given an MRI, 69% of the swimmers showed inflammation of the tendon of the supraspinatus muscle. Empirically, 80% of the swimmers we take for 1-2-1 Video Analysis come to us to fix their shoulders. The majority of the research out there centres on managing the pain rather than correcting the underlying issue, which typically revolves around poor swimming technique. If you’ve had time out of the water, it’s natural to expect your technique to have deteriorated and to be concerned that this might see you back on the sidelines with an injury before you’ve even got truly started again. So, what do you need to watch out for:

  1. Entering into the water thumbs-first is one of the primary causes of shoulder pain in swimming due to excessive internal rotation of the shoulder joint.
  2. Crossing the centre line in front of your head (a "crossover") is also a big no-no, but highly common for the same reason as Point 1.
  3. Pulling through too deep/straight and even too wide during your propulsive phase can also aggravate the shoulder as well.

Here are some DO and DON’T images of that:



The challenge of course is to know if you’re doing these things and to what magnitude. If you have an Apple Watch, have a go trying our unique Stroke Insights feature within the new platform that flags these aspects of the stroke on a clever heat-map image using the gyroscopes and accelerometers built within the Apple Watch to give a visual depiction of your stroke in space - here are some examples of what that might look like if you’re prone to injury:

We can then make suggestions on how to refine these aspects of your swimming using dedicated drill sequences to address these before they become an issue.

A Program Worth Following:

Finally, the feeling of not knowing how to get started, of exactly what you are preparing for, and whether it might all be for naught if the pools have to close again, are all emotions our squad here in Perth expressed back in June. Know that our Certified Swim Smooth Coaches are absolutely chomping at the bit right around the world to help you identify some new goals and to show you how to get started.

It’s been a very frustrating time for them too, so you can only imagine how their passion and enthusiasm has been mounting up over the last 12 months ready to inspire you to new heights! We’ve certainly been humbled by the squad’s response and support here in Perth since June last year with record attendances at every session, and would highly encourage you to check out your local Swim Smooth Coach’s offerings as they’re all gearing their schedules up right now.

If you happen to live too far away from one our Coaches and want to target an event in the future or just aim to simply improve your swimming to go further, faster and smoother than you have before, you’ll be pleased to know that last week we released our brand new Dynamic Training Plans feature within the new platform. Just pick an event/goal, choose your event/goal distance, tell us when your event/goal is, tell us how many times per week you plan to swim and what your current level of ability is and we’ll construct you a bespoke Training Plan to get you back on track post-COVID! 

What’s super cool about these Training Plans is that they’ll adapt to your current state of fatigue and developing fitness and as such, you may see changes to your program when they’re delivered each weekend accordingly. What’s more, you can even edit how many sessions you can slot in per week should your (or your pool’s) situation change as you progress forwards. 

Give it a try! The first 3 swims are on us! You don’t need an Apple Watch or wearable of any sort for this aspect of the platform (though we do recommend one!) - to check it out, visit or find in the app store here:!

In summary:

Getting started again with your pool swimming can always be a bit daunting. With the right approach and expectation level, a bit of structure (but not too much in the very early days!), and the positive view of this being your golden opportunity to start from a blank slate to be the best version of your swimming self, you can achieve some wonderful things.

Take it from us, our squad over here in Perth has never collectively swum so well, despite everyone’s early reservations and apprehensions. We might have been fortunate to have been back a lot longer than you, but if nothing more, know that swimming “from the future” is a wonderful thing again and you too will soon be there! 

Keep us posted with your journey back.

Swim Smooth!

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