Discover the flaws in your stroke with STROKE CONTRASTS

Here's a cunning method to help you self-diagnose parts of your stroke that need work. We call it "Stroke Contrasts".

Hopefully you are having a well earned rest over the Christmas holiday and are now thinking about what training you should be doing over the next few months. This is a great time to take stock of your swimming and make some training plans to meet your goals this summer. But when it comes to assessing your stroke technique, without the help of a good coach it’s hard to judge what you should be working on.

Enter the Stroke Contrast method. This technique asks you to deliberately alter your stroke for the worse so that you can experience how it feels. The contrast this creates gives you a unique sensory experience, which helps you tune into flaws in your stroke.

The possibilities for creating Stroke Contrasts are endless. Here’s a classic session -- try it for yourself and see what you experience:

Warm up: 400m smooth easy freestyle

For each of the contrasts below, swim 100m deliberately emphasising the stroke error then 200m focusing on correcting that error:
breath holding
Contrast of Flaw 1: Holding Your Breath
a) Swim 100m without any exhalation into the water – holding you breathe the whole time you are face down. Rotate to the side as normal to breathe but in that short window both exhale and inhale.
b) Now experience the contrast by swimming 200m emphasising good strong exhalation into the water. Doing this you only have to inhale when you rotate to breathe. This is good breathing technique – do you do this in your stroke normally?
Find out more about exhalation.
good body roll
Contrast of Flaw 2: Lack Of Body Roll
a) Swim 100m without any body roll, trying to keep your shoulders and hips flat and level with the water. To do this you might have to swing your arms round the side a bit more than normal.
b) Now swim 200m emphasising good body roll, rotating the hips and shoulders together. As you enter the water and extend forwards at the front of your stroke really emphasise rolling your body onto that side.
Find out more about body roll.

flexible foot
Contrast of Flaw 3: Dorsi Flexed Ankles
a) Using a pull buoy, swim 100m flexing your foot square to your leg as if you are standing. When you swim in this position your toes will point down towards the bottom of the pool. Feel what this does to your body position and how it creates drag.
b) Now continue with the pull buoy for 200m correcting this stroke flaw by pointing your toes (technical term: plantar flexion). Experience how this feels and what it does to your progress through the water.
Find out more about kicking.
head position
Contrast 4: Head Position
a) Swim 100m, every 25m try a different head position:
1) looking straight down and slightly behind
2) looking straight down
3) looking straight down and slightly ahead
4) looking ahead (eyes still just below the surface)
b) There is no right or wrong with head position – it’s an individual thing to suit your stroke. Choose the position that felt best for your stroke and then swim 200m holding that position.

bent elbow catch
Contrast of Flaw 5: Straight Arm Catch and Pull.
a) After entering the water at the front of your stroke and extending forwards, start your stroke but deliberately keep your arm straight without any elbow bend. This means you have to push straight down on the water rather than push it back. Emphasise this stroke flaw for 100m.
b) Now swim 200m, focusing on extending forwards and then commencing the stroke by catching the water with a good elbow bend, so pulling the water back to the wall behind you. Quick tip: try exaggerating the elbow bend more than you might think necessary.
Find out more about the catch and pull.
Warm down: Pick the contrast above that made the most difference to your stroke and swim 200m at a very easy pace focusing on that one thing.

That’s a simple 2100m technique session which anyone can use to assess their own stroke. You can modify it and add in other stroke flaws e.g. bent knee kicking, late breathing and catch up stroke timing.

Important: Deliberately introducing a stroke flaw in this way increases your perception. You can often feel if you have a tendency towards that particular flaw in your stroke. But if you don’t feel any difference at all versus your normal swimming, that shows you have the full version of that flaw in your stroke. Make fixing it your immediate priority!

How to fix a stroke flaw? The very best way is to invest in our full Stroke Correction DVD Boxset. It contains the most effective methods available to correct your stroke and meet your swimming and triathlon goals.

Merry Christmas!

Swim Smooth

Discuss this post and let us know your experiences on our forum here.

Quick Tip: Do You Struggle With Leaking Goggles?

Here's a good tip, particularly for women or men with smaller faces.

Most adult goggles are designed to fit the bone structure of large male faces. If you always struggle with leaky goggles then try junior goggles. It can make all the difference.

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Announcing Swim Smooth UK Clinics: January 2010

Swim Smooth are excited to announce four UK clinics in Windsor and Huddersfield in January. If you are a swimmer or triathlete looking to improve your speed and efficiency in the water, book your place now:

A Swim Smooth clinic is a full day of focused development of your individual stroke technique with Swim Smooth coaches Paul Newsome and Adam Young.

Each clinic includes:

- Detailed video footage of your stroke above and below the water which you will take away with you on DVD.

- A full detailed analysis of your stroke by Head Coach Paul Newsome. You'll come away with a clear understanding of what's currently holding you back and exactly what you need to do to improve your swimming speed and efficiency.

- Unique interactive classroom sessions that explain the fundamentals of the freestyle stroke, exactly why common problems occur and how to fix them. We'll cross reference this to your own stroke and in doing so explain how to adapt your individual technique for best performance in open water.

- How to develop a swimming program to suit your needs and how to get the most out of your pool time.

- Two practical swimming sessions focusing on developing your stroke. Paul and Adam will show you exactly how to fix the problem areas of your technique and under our guidance try out all the drills, methods and visualisations you need to take away with you and continue to work on.

- A mini squad session showing you how to implement our unique technique methods into a 'normal' training session.

The clinics are suitable for any ability of swimmer who can swim 200m of freestyle continuously from beginner up to advanced level. Each clinic is strictly limited to 12 swimmers to ensure you get lots of individual attention to your stroke needs.

Demand is expected to be very high - please don't delay in booking your place:

We hope to meet you in person in January.


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Swim Smooth Christmas Bargains!

2010 is just around the corner! Make it a great year for your swimming with our Swim Smooth products and special christmas offers:

Boxset20% Off The Swim Smooth DVD Boxset
Improve your speed and efficiency through the water with the definitive guide to improving your freestyle stroke. Three disks featuring our full stroke development program, every drill we teach, how to master open water swimming and a full training plan to follow.
Xmas Price: 20% off but only for the next 14 days – don’t miss out on this special offer! Find out more.

LTS20% Off The Swim Smooth Learn To Swim Program
Can’t swim freestyle at all? Let us show you how with our easy to follow straightforward 10 step process. You’ll soon be swimming up and down the pool with ease!
Xmas Price: 20% off for the next 14 days – don’t miss out on this very special offer! Find out more.

SwiMP3Finis SwiMP3 Waterproof MP3 Player
Power your swim sets with your favourite tunes using the very latest 1GB version of this amazing player. Supplied with a special sweetener: bonus Swim Smooth tracks that you can load onto the player and try out the functions of a full Wetronome at no extra cost! Find our more.

Tech TocFinis Tech Toc
Instant feedback on your body roll with this unique training tool. Swim with it strapped round your waist and you’ll only hear and feel a ‘toc’ noise if you rotate enough on every stroke. We rate it as the best gadget available for developing your body roll and so efficiency through the water. Find out more.

PT PaddlesFinis Freestyler Paddles
The find of 2009 – these paddles are so good for your stroke we think every swimmer should have a set in their kit bag. Why? Specifically designed to develop the freestyle stroke, they help you develop your streamlining, alignment, spearing hand entry and catch. They do this through their unique patented shape which works to straighten you up in the water. It's the perfect paddle to remove cross over. Find out more.

Training PlansSwim Smooth Training Plans
Special waterproof session plans for Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full Ironman triathlon preparation. 35 training sessions packed in to get you in perfect shape for your race season. Use them to work on your swimming fitness and stroke over the winter and hit the 2010 season with PB swim speed! Find out more

About these bargains:

Special offer price promotion runs from the 10th to 24th December 2009 only.

All items are in stock and will ship next working day from the UK.

Our usual multi-buy discounts of up to 10% still apply on top of promotion prices! Discounts are automatically applied in our shopping cart for orders of two or more items. Find out more.

Money Back Guarantee: All our products are either developed in house or hand picked from quality suppliers. We believe in them so much that we offer a complete money back guarantee on everything we sell. If you find you are dissatisfied with your purchase in any way, simply return the item to us and we’ll give you a full refund.


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