Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our New iPad / iPhone App - Miss Swinger vs. Mr Smooth

** PLeclick to download
** Please note, the Android version of this app is coming soon! **

You've been asking for it and here it is (at last)! Our extremely cool new iPhone and iPad animation app is now in the App Store:

Miss Swinger shows you the Swinger stroke style in detail:

Forward and rewind frame by frame using the jog wheel.

Using a straighter arm recovery and two beat kick, this is the style used by most elite triathletes and open water swimmers. Study Miss Swinger's brilliant catch and pull-through, and notice how she creates all that rhythm whilst still using the full range of her stroke.

And of course we also feature Mr Smooth, who you know and love. He shows you the classic long Smooth stroke style used by Olympic Champions such as Ian Thorpe and Rebecca Adlington. The animation has been extensively updated with much improved water effects and lane motion:

You can use the pop-up jog wheel to adjust the stroke rate from 10 strokes per minute (super-slow motion) up to a full-on race pace of 90 strokes per minute. When the animation is paused the jog wheel lets you move forwards and backwards frame by frame.

If the water's obscuring your view you can even remove the water from the shot too:

What's more, every view is synchronised so if you pause the animation you can move around the angles to get a full appreciation of any position in the stroke:

To complete this brilliant coaching tool we've included several articles in the app comparing the stroke techniques of both animations and how to use them to develop your own swimming:

It's a must have for your swimming - download today!

And yes we have an Android version in the pipeline too... :)

Swim Smooth!

Friday, April 11, 2014

CSS Training For Absolute Beginners

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round
Full information: here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood/Totton Squads
Full information here

Twickenham Vid-Analysis
Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
Full information here

Lancaster UK, Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here

Loughborough SS Squad
Full information here

Acton UK, Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Mallorca SS Camps 2014
Full information: here

Challenge Barcelona Camps April 2014
Full information: here

Loughborough SS Clinics
Full information: here

For more info on SS Certified Coaches see here
When it comes to becoming a better swimmer, your stroke technique is very important but so too is your fitness. Without a good level of swimming fitness you won't be able to sustain your stroke technique over distance, leading to that horrible feeling of your stroke 'falling apart'.

The key to developing fitness specific to swimming is to introduce the right sort of training so that you can simultaneously improve your stroke technique and fitness at the same time. And the best way to do that is using something called Critical Swim Speed (CSS) training which we're going to explain in this blog post.

CSS sets can be swum in a squad but equally you can do them
by yourself or with a few friends.

Even if you are relatively new to swimming freestyle, don't be afraid to introduce some CSS sets into your swimming routine, your swimming will come on leaps and bounds!

Your Swimming Week

If you are swimming three times per week a good way to structure things is to focus each of your sessions in the following way:

Session 1. Stroke Technique Development
Session 2. Open Water Skills (see here)
Session 3. Threshold / CSS Training

CSS training is Swim Smooth's preferred form of fitness training set for distance swimmers and triathletes. It gives you the biggest bang for your training buck and also has a strong focus on developing your pacing skills - which are critical to swimming as fast and efficiently as possible.

Swimmers moving from conventional masters training to CSS sets normally see improvements in their distance performances after just a few weeks, which is very motivating in its own right.

What Is CSS Training?

CSS training focuses on developing something called your lactate threshold, which is a physiological marker which indicates when your body is at the limit of its aerobic system. CSS training has you swimming at lactate threshold speed ('CSS pace') in order to get faster at that intensity. If we can improve your lactate threshold speed then you are pretty much guaranteed to swim faster in your races.

Don't worry if that previous paragraph read like mumbo-jumbo, simply perform the CSS test below, try the training sessions and notice how you get progressively faster as the weeks go by!

CSS training focuses on your ability to sustain a strong pace
over your race distance.

The CSS Test

The first thing you need to do is find your CSS pace using the CSS test:

1) Perform a thorough warmup, progressively bringing your heart rate up.

2) Time yourself over a 400m swim, swimming as quickly as you can. Make sure you pace it out well but go as hard as you can - this is a time-trial!

3) Then take 5 to 10 minutes to recover, swimming some very easy laps to help flush waste products from your muscles.

4) Now time yourself over another time-trial, this time 200m. Go as hard as you can again!

5) Swim an easy cool-down to recover before hitting the showers.

Finding Your CSS Pace

The first thing to check is that you swam the 200m at a faster time per 100m than the 400m. This should always be the case as it is a shorter distance. This is essential or the calculation will not work!

Then take your 200m and 400m times and use the free calculator here to find your CSS pace:

Or use SS Coach Steve Casson's excellent Swimulator+ iOS app:

Both of these will give you your CSS pace per 100m which you then need to train at. If you're using a Tempo Trainer Pro to help set this pace accurately (see below), also take note of the time per lap the calculator gives you so you can set that in the beeper.

Simply put your 200m and 400m times into the The Swimulator+ app and
it spits out the CSS pace to go in your tempo trainer - neat!

We recommend you re-test yourself every 4 to 6 weeks to see how you're improving. Improvements of 1 or 2 seconds per 100m are significant in well trained swimmers but for those new to fitness training, taking off 5 or 10 seconds per 100m is quite normal (or in some cases even more than that).

Using A Finis Tempo Trainer Pro

At Swim Smooth we're big fans of using a Tempo Trainer Pro to help pace you accurately through CSS sessions. You simply set it to your target pace per lap, pop it under your swim cap and then stay with the beep as you swim.
Simply take the time per length from
the calculator and set it in the beeper.

For example if you want to target 2:00/100m in a 25m pool you set it to beep every 30 seconds, then simply set off on a beep and make sure you turn and push-off on each beep. Stay with it and you're guaranteed to accurately swim at 2:00/100m with perfect pacing.

You can also use it to time your recovery between swims. To do that finish a swim and touch the wall on the beep, then wait until the next beep and immediately set off again on the next swim. We call that 'one beep recovery'.

Tempo Trainers are brilliant training partners and a lot simpler than using the pace clock! More information here: Finis Tempo Trainer Pro

The Goldilocks Set

There's plenty of examples of CSS sets to follow in the Swim Smooth Book and our Waterproof Training Plans but here's a good first session to try, the classic Goldilocks Set.

After a thorough warmup, swim the following straight through, all at your CSS pace:

Baby Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)*
1x 200m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

Mama Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)*
1 x 300m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

Papa Bear
2x 100m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)*
1 x 400m + 20 seconds rest (or 1 beep)

* to create a longer set, increase to 3 or 4x 100m.

You may find CSS pace quite easy at first but stick with it, it will get harder and you should be feeling the pace over the 300m and 400m swims! Don't go faster than CSS pace on the 100s - the temptation will be there - but control your pace instead and in doing so develop your pace judgement skills.

If you find you cannot sustain the pace for the whole set then rather than taking additional rest, swim very slightly slower to keep things manageable. Don't take things too easy though, you should be working really hard in the second half of the set!

CSS vs. Traditional Masters Training

Compared to traditional master swim sets, CSS training involves swimming at a slightly (only slightly!) slower pace but with much shorter recoveries between each swim. This keeps things focused on developing your aerobic system, which is what you need to become a better distance swimmer.

The problem with sprinting hard and then recovering is that it focuses much more on your anaerobic system, which is great for sprinters but far from ideal for distance swimmers and triathletes.

For more information see our classic blog post Becoming A Diesel Engine and the main CSS article on the Swim Smooth website:

Meet Mega Megan!

She looks innocent enough but Mega Megan's rapidly
become a swimming machine... and she's not done yet.
As a great example of what CSS training can do, watch out for a forthcoming blog we're writing featuring SS Perth squad swimmer Megan Surrette.

Over the past 18 months Megan has gone from a complete beginner in the pool to swimming the mighty 19.7km Rottnest Channel swim!

The mainstay of her training? Consistent CSS training sets week in, week out which have increased her CSS pace from 2:18/100m to 1:36/100m. A fantastic level of improvement!

18 months ago she would never have considered this sort of training thinking it 'too advanced' for her but quite the opposite was true, she needed consistent CSS training to build her swimming engine - which for her was even more important than for an established swimmer.

More about Megan's experiences and exploits are coming in a few weeks time...

Swim Smooth!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Fundamental Link Between Gliding And A Poor Catch

At Swim Smooth we call an Overglider someone who has focused on trying to reduce the number of strokes they take per length to an absolute minimum, believing that a reduced number of strokes is the key measure of efficiency in freestyle swimming. Many have also been taught that by pausing and gliding as long as possible on their side they will be conserving energy.

The truth is though that swimming like this is very energy sapping. Water is 800 times more dense than air meaning that any significant pause at the front of the stroke will cause the swimmer to stall before having to re-accelerate on the next stroke. This accelerate-decelerate-accelerate-decelerate action is very inefficient.

Under the water at the front of their stroke, nearly all Overgliders drop their elbow and show the palm forwards. We call this 'putting on the brakes' :

(you can see many more Overgliders doing this here:

But why does this enter into their stroke? The simple answer would be to say they are trying to reach as far forwards as possible and this is bringing the fingertips upwards but actually there's an even more fundamental reason than that.

If we look back to our blog post from a few months ago, we can see the position you should be in as you enter into the water and extend forwards, with the elbow slightly higher than the wrist and the wrist slightly higher than the fingertips:

Half the battle with developing a good catch technique is about getting into this position in the first place, the rest naturally follows on afterwards... and that's really the point. Once you are extended in this position the water flow over your hand and arm actively encourages you to initiate the catch - it's very difficult to pause here and not start the catch:


So the Overglider has a problem, the water is pushing them into starting the stroke but they don't want to. The only thing they can really do is disrupt position 1 and so they learn to drop the wrist and push against the water - literally stalling the stroke. Of course this isn't intentional, it just progressively creeps in as they 'learn how to glide'.

This fundamental link between gliding and harming the catch is one of the key reasons why you should never try to introduce glide to your stroke, even (especially!) when you're learning the stroke. Use your full range of motion but keep things smooth and continuous, flowing from one stroke to the next.

Elite Swimmers

Over the last few years we've managed to start shifting the perception in the swimming world about whether great swimmers actually glide down the pool. The fact is when you carefully study elite swimmers with a classically long smooth freestyle stroke, the gap between one stroke finishing at the rear and the next starting at the front is tiny - less than 0.2 second. When we watch them swim, they appear to be gliding but this is actually an optical illusion, in reality they transition smoothly from one stroke to the next without any pauses in their stroke at all.

As a quick example of this, the great Ian Thorpe is famous for having a beautifully long smooth stroke taking around 32 strokes in a 50m pool. That's certainly a long stroke but in his autobiography This Is Mehe says that if he wants to he can drop down to 24 strokes per 50m - or even 20!

So Ian doesn't try to swim with as few strokes as possible, in fact he was fastest and most efficient taking 12 more strokes than his absolute minimum. Other Olympic Gold medallists have taken many more strokes again, some over 50 strokes per 50m, highlighting the fact that swimming well isn't about taking as few strokes as possible but about swimming with great technique and great rhythm.

Curing Overgliding

If you are a bit of an Overglider yourself but have had trouble removing the pause from your stroke timing, then you might be able to see why now. The key isn't to consciously turn your arms over faster because if you are still pushing forwards against the water that will feel very hard to do. Instead simply work on entering and extending forwards straight into position 1 above, when you do that your stroke rate will naturally lift and you will instantly become a faster and more efficient swimmer.

We go into that process in detail (and lots more besides) in our best selling Catch Masterclass DVD.

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Scissor Kicks Are Caused By Crossovers

In the vast majority of cases scissor kicks are caused by crossovers:

The swimmer crosses over the centre line in front of the head, over-rotates and then the legs scissor apart to stop them flipping over onto their back. Over time this becomes a habit in the stroke and feels normal - in fact most swimmers with a scissor kick don't even realise it is there.

In a sense the swimmer doesn’t have two problems but one. Remove the crossover and the scissor kick disappears permanently all by itself. But try to tackle the scissor kick directly with kicking drills and it keeps coming back without first removing the crossover.

How to remove the crossover? By improving your posture and alignment in the water using side kicking exercises, thinking about drawing your shoulders together and back to bring the lead arm straight:

Read the full description of this drill here.

Swim Smooth's Cause And Effect Methodology

Crossovers-causing-scissor-kicks is the most famous example of our "Cause and Effect" approach to stroke correction which is the backbone of all our coaching products. It's a philosophy which greatly simplifies stroke correction and hugely improves the chances of its success.

There are around 20 other C+Es that we employ at different times for different faults ranging from shortness of breath right through to mastering catch technique. Our best selling Book, DVDs and Swim Type correction guides all use this simple but powerful principle to permanently improve your swimming.

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Is Your Personality Holding Your Swimming Back?

Last weekend in Loughborough we ran one of our highly sought after 3 Day Coach Education Courses for the 14 coaches selected from the UK, Spain, Belgium, USA and Yorkshire. Competition to attend was fierce with over 100 applicants for the course.

One of the most interesting narratives during the weekend was on the personality traits of each of the six Swim Types and how those traits impact on their swimming:

Paul's video analysis session with the 14 swimmers and 14 coaches.

The coaches show us a bit of their own personality!

It's fair to say that some of the coaches who were less familiar with the swim types were initially a bit unsure about whether such a connection could be made at all. However on the third day of the course we brought in 14 real swimmers who we'd never met before to run a full Swim Smooth clinic. Chatting to them when we met up and then seeing them in the water really brought the personality angle into focus. To quote coach Filip from Belgium:

I was initially a little sceptical on the story that the different swim types were linked to a person's personality but I had to admit that on the 14 athletes initially presenting themselves, I could already define the swim type on 10 of them without seeing them in the water.
(You can read the rest of Filip's report here)

Once you get into the Swim Type system as a coach, you soon find that the personality insight it brings is just as powerful as the stroke insight itself. After all, great coaching is not only about the technical aspects but also making a real connection with your swimmer and understanding what is holding them back inside their head.

So whether you're a swimmer or coach, what one tip can we give you for each type to help from a personality perspective? (For the step by step guide to technically improving each type, see our full Swim Type guides: here)

'Taming The Arnie'

Arnies are intense and driven people who want results yesterday! The biggest single thing holding them back technically is low sinking legs in the water, creating a huge amount of drag and slowing them dramatically. Combined with their tenacious nature this can lead to a lot of frustration.

Arnies: Unfortunately there's no one silver bullet to lift your legs higher in the water, it requires persistent work on a variety of areas in the stroke to bring the legs up. How do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time! The message here is whilst it can be done, it does require patience. Where to start? See these notes for some suggestions:

'Boosting The Bambino'

Bambinos are normally quite new to swimming freestyle and suffer from a lack of confidence in the water which is holding them back. Technically, the lead arm often drops or slips through the water when they go to take a breath which further heightens this sense of panic. They also have a tendency to be too slow and gentle in the stroke - almost as if they are afraid of hurting the water!

One of the key steps to improving a Bambino's swimming is to develop a 'go for it' attitude and to add a little oomph and rhythm to the stroke. You might think this would make swimming feel harder but for the Bambino it normally does the opposite - it actually makes it feel easier as they develop a better feel for the water from it.

Bambinos: Forget your worries and just go for it! From our experience, you're nearly always a better swimming than you think!

'Curing The Overglider'

Overgliders are famous for their analytical personalities and are the swimmers who love their graphs, spreadsheets and equations! In fact statistics have shown that 89.42% are likely to be from an engineering or science based background. Unfortunately this does mean that sometimes they tend to spend more time thinking about swimming than actually doing it, which can really hold them back.

An overtly intellectual approach can also cause them to lose touch with the feelings and natural rhythm of good freestyle.

Overgliders: Take a leaf out of the Swinger's book, just get in the water, swim on feel and try developing your swimming intuition! Your analytical approach will ultimately help you understand what you need to do to improve but try not to let it overshadow developing your kinaesthetic feel for the water.

'Inspiring The Kicktastic'

Kicktastics tend to be self-contained people who are very organised and diligent with their approach to swimming. However they have a tendency to stick to what they know and persevere with what they've always done since swimming as a child.

Kicktastics: Challenge yourself and work on some different areas of your stroke, don't be afraid to experiment and try something a little different, such as catch development drills and experimenting with a further looking head position to optimise your individual balance in the water:

'Supporting The Swinger'

Swingers have normally been swimming for a long time and have a decent level of performance, notably in open water swimming. Whilst they're confident in their abilities they may have a low opinion of their stroke having been told over the years by swimming coaches who subscribe to the 'longer is better' mindset that they don't have a good technique or they need a longer stroke.

The danger here is that Swingers often give up on their stroke technique as a lost cause when in reality there are nearly always areas they can work on on to improve significantly, without fundamentally changing their stroke style. Common areas to address are any cross-overs in the stroke, sweeping of the hand underneath the body or a tendency to over-rev the stroke rate at the start of an event.

Swingers: Appreciate that you are in fact succeeding because of your stroke technique, not despite it. Be confident in what you do well (swim with rhythm and purpose) and simply tune up a small few areas in your stroke that need work with a rounded set of drills.

'Motivating The Smooth'

Whilst Smooths look brilliant in the water and are the envy of the pool, they are not without their problems, most commonly a lack of motivation to train. Having spent years and years training and racing they've very much 'been there and done it' and commonly suffer from black line fever.

Smooths have all the talent in the world, it's very much a matter of firing them up and getting them swimming proper sets in the water on a regular basis again.

Smooths: Set yourself some new goals and challenges, ideally something you've never done before to get those competitive juices flowing again. Open water races would be a great choice and gives you the opportunity to work on some sighting, drafting and navigation skills you might have never tried before which really keeps things interesting.

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Three Keys To Becoming A Much Better Swimmer

220 Magazine have just released their interview with our Head Coach Paul Newsome which was filmed recently at The Triathlon Show in London:

In it Paul talks about two very important concepts for better swimming: Swim Smooth's 'Three Keys' and using Tempo Trainer Pros for fitness training and developing your pacing skills.

To supplement Paul's interview, here's an overview of each:

Swim Smooth's 'Three Keys'

As you develop your swimming it's important to appreciate there are three key areas you need to work on to reach your potential in the water:

Key 1. Your stroke technique to move more quickly for the same level of effort.

Key 2. Your swim specific fitness so that you can sustain your stroke technique at a strong level of effort.

Key 3. Your open water skills such as sighting, drafting and swimming straight.

A good way to look at these three areas is to consider that each is broadly worth the same amount of time to you. So if you're swimming 30 minutes for 1500m but want to get to 24 minutes, then look at this challenge as you aiming to gain 2 minutes from technique, 2 minutes from swim fitness and 2 minutes from open water skills.

This is how the swimmers making large improvements do so. They don't gain everything from one area, which is extremely hard to do, instead they work year round in a balanced program combining all three keys, gaining performance from each.

Using exactly this approach Paul coached professional triathlete Kate Bevilaqua from 65 minutes for the 3.8km Ironman swim down to a fantastic 49 minutes (previously covered on the blog here). That's a huge gain, taking her from last pro out of the water to the very front of the field:

Tempo Trainer Pros For Fitness Training

Secondly Paul mentioned how Finis Tempo Trainer Pros are extremely useful tools for developing your swim specific fitness. Tempo Trainers are best known for being used to control your stroke rate for technique development but they can also be used to set a swimming speed to sustain over a training set.

Set the pace on the Tempo Trainer before starting your set.
For instance, if you are looking to swim at 2 minutes per 100m in a 25m pool, just set the beeper in mode 2 to beep every 30 seconds. Then set off on a beep and control your pace to turn and push-off on every beep. This really helps you develop and tune in to your pace judgement, an essential part of improving your distance swimming.

As a shameless plug, you can purchase your Tempo Trainer Pro from our Swim Shop here:

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Photo & Video Highlights From The Triathlon Show Last Weekend

Last week on the blog we previewed our visit to the 220 Triathlon Show in London and our Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown which featured Olympic Silver medallist David Davies and Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist Ross Davenport.

We heard from many of you from all corners of the globe who would have loved to have been there so here's our picture and video highlights of the weekend to enjoy. If you can, come and join us at the Bike And Tri Show in Manchester this weekend for more seminars and endless pool sessions (timetable at the end of this post).

On the first day in London Paul Newsome hosted the show-headlining Q&A with 6x Ironman World Champion Dave Scott. Dave is a real smooth operator and entertained the crowd with inside stories on his victories and discussions on nutrition and training methods:

Dave's views on swim coaching are very much in alignment with our own and it was great to hear him speak about how he got the best out of his own swimming using the Swinger style. It was a real honour to work with Dave again over the weekend, here's 'Mr October' with some of the members of the Swim Smooth UK team:

L-R: Emma Brunning, Adam Young, Annie Oberlin-Harris, Dave Scott
Paul Newsome, Fiona Ford, Linda Newsome (aka Mother Smooth!) & Stevie Akred

Next Paul presented a new presentation he's been working on about our Swim Types system with special guest David Davies, Olympic Silver Medallist in the 10km Open Water Event. It was fascinating to hear Dave speak about his Swinger stroke style and how coaches tried to change him over the years, but it always slowed him down. His original coach Dave Haller in Cardiff knew exactly what he needed and capitalised on that - his results speak for themselves:

"People used to say I looked horrible - like a spider, but when I tried to lengthen out and slow
down my stroke rate I simply became slower, not more efficient - being like Sun Yang just didn't work for me."

This was the busiest presentation of the entire weekend with over 300 people in attendance:

Standing room only!

Immediately afterwards we ran the much heralded Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown in the Zoggs Swim Zone between Silver (2008, 10km) & Bronze (2004, 1500m) Olympic Medallist David Davies and double Commonwealth Gold Medallist (200m freestyle & 4 x 200m freestyle) Ross Davenport:

Paul Newsome demonstrates arm recovery styles to the audience with David Davies (nearest)
and Ross Davenport (far side) in the Zoggs endless pools

Of course we filmed the session for you but are saving that for future viewing! Suffice to say, Ross' and David's differing stroke styles were immediately apparent for the 300+ audience to see. David (right) uses the straighter arm style of the Swinger whilst Ross (left) uses the higher elbow of the Smooth:

Who won? Well unfortunately we couldn't have a real race because these particular endless pools weren't configured to go fast enough for elite swimmers at race speeds but the real lesson here is that both are brilliant swimmers and both styles are equally valid. Simply put there's no one right way for all swimmers to swim. Choose your own stroke style based on what naturally works best for you and the environment in which you are swimming.

Paul with Ross and David after the swim:

And a little later when we filmed David's stroke properly:

Adam, Fiona, David Davies, Annie and Paul post filming

As if that wasn't enough, on Saturday night we won the prestigious 220 Best Wetsuit Brand award with our HUUB range for the second year running! ( Dave Scott is now a brand ambassador for HUUB along with Olympic Gold and Bronze medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. A fantastic result and big congratulations from us to Deano Jackson and the whole HUUB team!

On Sunday it was back into the pool to deliver a jam-packed Video Analysis and Stroke Correction session with the 220 Triathlon Magazine Editor, Helen Webster:

Helen has only just learnt to swim but did brilliantly. You can only imagine how she felt doing a session in front 150 people - thanks for being so awesome Helen!

Also thanks to all of you who came and said hi to us during the show. If you're planning to visit the Manchester show this weekend don't forget to bring your video footage of your stroke on a USB drive so our team can give you some feedback on your stroke:

Swim Smooth!

The Bike & Triathlon Show, Manchester Timetable:

Sat 8th March: 11:15am-12:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 1 (Swim Types)
Sat 8th March: 2-3pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 12:30-1:30pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 3:15pm-4:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 2 (Diesel Engine)

Friday, February 28, 2014

David Davies In Live Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown At Sandown Park

We're very excited to announce that Olympic Silver and Bronze Medallist David Davies will be Swim Smooth's special guest tomorrow (Saturday) at The Triathlon Show in Sandown Park!

Join Paul Newsome at 2pm in the Zoggs endless pool for the biggest Swinger vs. Smooth smackdown yet! We'll be comparing Dave's classic Swinger style with another famous name from British swimming who has a classically long Smooth freestyle stroke. Which stroke style is best and which should you use yourself? Find out live on Saturday!

Also join Dave and Paul Newsome at 11:30am in the 220 Theatre where they look at classic swim styles and how to improve each. The seminar will be packed with insight and tips to improve your own stroke technique.

You can see Swim Smooth's full schedule of other seminars and endless pool sessions at the show and the following weekend in Manchester here. Remember to bring your swim footage on a USB drive to our stand (next door to HUUB) and a full Swim Smooth coach will analyse your stroke for you. :)

Swinger vs. Smooth

At the core of Swim Smooth's coaching philosophy is our recognition of two 'ideal' swim strokes, the Swinger and the Smooth. This is quite a step away from convention as swimming coaches have traditionally only recognised the Smooth as worthy of emulation but that disregards amazing swimmers such as David Davies, Laure Manadou, Shelley Taylor Smith and the Brownlee brothers:

Jono Van Hazel is a classic Smooth

Mel Benson is a classic Swinger
Each stroke style is equally valid and has strengths and weaknesses to it. One will naturally suit you more than the other, identify which works best for you and your swimming will really start to click!

Find out more at:

Swim Smooth!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Should You Be Using A Two Beat Kick?

Traditional swim coaching taught everyone to swim with a flutter kick:

The legs are kept nearly straight with only a subtle bending of the knee and pointed toes behind the swimmer. Technically this is called a '6 Beat Kick' because for a full arm cycle you kick six times. This isn't something you have to think about too much, if you focus on a light flutter kick then the timing will naturally fall into place.

Great swimmers such as Natalie Coughlin, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps use this style to great effect.

You might have heard of a much slower style of kicking called a two beat kick:

For a full arm cycle, the swimmer kicks twice. When performed well, it's like a switch-kick moving between the two positions.

The advantage of this kicking style is that it uses less energy and so can be more energy efficient over longer distances. Elite swimmers such as Laure Manadou, David Davies and Shelley Taylor Smith won many gold medals using this technique. It's used in pool events but is especially common in elite open water swimming and triathlon.

Which Style Is Best?

So which should you use when you swim? To make the two beat kick style work effectively you need all these elements in place in your stroke:

- You need a good catch technique pressing the water backwards effectively at all times.

- You need an absence of a pause and glide in your arm stroke timing.

- You need good rhythm to the stroke moving continuously from one stroke to the next.

- You need a developed kicking technique, kicking from the hip with very little knee bend.

- You need a reasonable level of natural buoyancy.

Having all those elements in place in your stroke is going to mean you are already a pretty decent swimmer and if you swim in a squad you will swim in the faster lanes.

If you don't have all of those elements in place then a two beat kick won't work well for you at all, you're much better off with a light 6-beat flutter kick while you develop your stroke technique. This doesn't have to be very energy consuming if you kick with a small motion and light effort.

In the long run as you develop your stroke technique - and if it fits your natural style - you can start to work on a two beat kicking technique.

Kicking Style By Swim Type

If you're a classic leg-sinker like an Arnie or a Bambino then although a six beat kick takes a little more energy in itself, your body will be lifted higher and this will reduce drag and so reduce your effort level overall. For you a light six beat kick is the most efficient style as it helps lift your legs higher in the water.

Many swimmers try and combine a two beat kick with a pause-and-glide in the stroke (the classic Overglider) as they are looking to use as little energy as possible when they swim. Unfortunately this causes them to stall between strokes and sink down low in the water - this is a very inefficient way of swimming.

A common stroke artefact that develops with Overgliders using a two beat kick is the Overglider Kickstart (see here). The swimmer has to use a big knee bend to literally kick-start the stalled stroke, creating a huge amount of drag in the process:

Notice how this swimmer's body position is much lower
than the more efficient swimmers above.

Overgliders are best off using a six beat kick while they work on improving their catch and their rhythm and timing. If you migrate towards the Swingers style then a two beat kick could serve you well in the long run but most Overgliders have ambitions to be Smooths for which they should stay with a six beat kick.

The Kicktastic is a swimmer who likes using a powerful 6-beat kick. For yourself developing your swimming is about taming the power of the kick whilst developing your catch and pull. We'd recommend keeping the 6 beat style but moderate the effort levels to improve your efficiency.

The elite swimmers who use a two beat kick are those with a shorter stroke but a faster turnover - Swingers. The continuous nature of the Swinger style, moving continuously from one stroke to the next, means they don't need a flutter kick to keep their momentum going. The two beat kick simply helps drive their body rotation which in turn drives the arm stroke.

Not all Swingers use a two beat kick but it naturally complements their style and allows them to turn their arms over quickly without having to kick extremely rapidly to keep up with the pace of the arms.

That leaves the Smooths - the swimmers who use that long smooth stroke style to devastating effect. The six beat flutter kick suits their style and falls in naturally with the longer stroke timing. Sometimes when cruising at steady pace (for them!) the kick will drop in and out but when at full racing speed, the kick becomes continuous and powerful to lift them high at the rear.


Swim Smooth's coaching philosophy is to only think about developing a two beat kick if you are quite an advanced swimmer starting to develop a refined Swinger style of stroke. If you are still working on the basics of your stroke technique such as breathing, alignment, body position and catch setup then you are going to be much better served using a light 6-beat kick. And if you tend towards the Smooth type, then 6-beat is going to be the best style for you in the long term too.

Swim Smooth!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Swim Smooth Seminars & Live Video Analysis In London & Manchester

Swim Smooth are touching down in a couple of weeks time for The Triathlon Show (Sandown Park, London) and then The Manchester Bike & Tri Show two weeks later. Come to the shows to meet the Swim Smooth team and talk about your swimming with us!

SS Head Coach (and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim winner) Paul Newsome is flying in from Australia to deliver some special Swim Smooth seminars for you and live stroke correction sessions to learn from in the endless pool at the Zoggs Swim Zone:

Paul working with Double Commonwealth Gold Medallist Ross Davenport.
Ross will be visiting the Swim Smooth stand during both shows!

Paul's two seminars will be:

Seminar 1: Swim Types Before & After - Learn how to easily and successfully correct your stroke.

Seminar 2:  Building your "Diesel Engine" for faster, more efficient endurance swimming.

Make sure you bring your video clips of your swimming to our stand (we're next door to HUUB wetsuits) and we'll give you an analysis of your stroke to take away! You'd be amazed what we can show you about your stroke and how to improve, even with some clips from your smartphone:

Also meet the rest of the UK coaching team, including our certified coaches from all regions of the UK:

Of course, we'll also have all our DVDs, Training Plans, Swim Smooth book and Finis goodies for you to check out on the stand. And hopefully a brand new Swim Smooth product to launch that we're putting the very finishing touches to right now!

Last but not least, Paul's also compering the headline Q&A with 6-time Hawaii Ironman winner Dave Scott at the London show. Here's a clip of when the two were last together in Boulder Colorado talking swimming technique:

If you can't get to the show then simply reply to this email or tweet Paul your question for Dave and he will pick the best ones to ask Dave at the show. Your question could be about anything at all swim, bike, run, nutrition, race skills or motivation related - the more original the better! :)

Here's the full timetable of events at both shows:

The Triathlon Show, Sandown Park London:

Fri 28th Feb: 4:45-5:45pm Dave Scott Q&A
Fri 28th Feb: 5:30-6:30pm Swim Smooth Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sat 1st March: 11:30am-12:30pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 1 (Swim Types)
Sat 1st March: 12:45-1:45pm Dave Scott Q&A
Sat 1st March: 2-3pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 2nd March: 11:30am-12:30pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 2 (Diesel Engine)
Sun 2nd March: 1:30-2:30pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections

The Bike & Triathlon Show, Manchester:

Sat 8th March: 11:15am-12:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 1 (Swim Types)
Sat 8th March: 2-3pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 12:30-1:30pm Swim Smooth Zoggs Endless Pool Stroke Demonstrations / Corrections
Sun 9th March: 3:15pm-4:00pm Paul Newsome Swim Smooth Seminar 2 (Diesel Engine)

Look forward to meeting you there!

Swim Smooth!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Video Analysis: Curing The Overglider

One of our most popular blog posts ever was our recorded video analysis of Triathlon World Champ Non Stanford's stroke. Today we're going to share with you another of Paul Newsome's sessions with a very different swimmer - someone called Phil who had tried to make their stroke as long as possible by adding a pause-and-glide into their stroke timing. Paul takes up the story:

Hi guys, I recorded this session with Phil in May 2013, it's a great session to watch for anyone who's added a pause and glide into their stroke timing (and any coaches trying to work with Overgliders): 

When I filmed Phil he was swimming at 32 strokes per 50m length at a painfully slow 36 SPM, taking around 1:49 /100m. I recently re-filmed him (7 months later) and Phil is now down to 1:35 /100m and his stroke rate is up to 51 SPM, taking 40 strokes per 50m length.

The question is, which is more efficient? Taking 8 strokes less or swimming 14 seconds per 100m faster? That equates to an improvement of 3:30 over 1500m or 23 minutes over the 20km Rottnest Channel swim he'll be undertaking in two weeks time.

You'll see in the clip how increasing his tempo and sacrificing a little stroke length is a product of a better hand entry and removing the over-glide from the front of his stroke. There's no super-science or magic to this process, it's just understanding that too much emphasis on stroke length can seriously damage your efficiency in the water.

The results of this session have been great for Phil, just a few weeks ago he swam 5km in open water in 1 hour 22 minutes, an average pace of 1:38 /100m - that's 11 seconds per 100m quicker than he's swimming in this video over 200m and yet its 25x further. Much more efficient swimming!

If you've added a pause-and-glide into your stroke, work on removing the dead-spot in your timing, don't over-glide and your rhythm will improve naturally, not because you are focusing on turning the arms over faster. This is truly how to cure the Overglider within you!

Enjoy the clip - Paul

If you would like an analysis like this on your own swimming then see one of our certified coaches - they'll take you through the exact same process and quickly have you swimming faster and more efficiently, whatever level you are currently at!

Swim Smooth!