50,000 Of You - Wow!

This week the number of subscribers for the Feel For The Water blog went through the 50,000 barrier. As far as we know that makes this the most popular swimming blog on the web with over 100 new swimmers joining every day!

Thanks to each and every one of you for giving us a portion of your time every Friday, it's inspiring (and sometimes a little nerve racking) writing for such a growing and passionate audience every week. As we pass by this milestone we thought you might like to know a bit more about how Swim Smooth operates and where your email comes from every week :

Hello from sunny Perth this very morning! (click to enlarge)

- Although many of our coaches are English, we choose to base our coaching in Perth, Western Australia. If you've ever been here you'll understand why: It has an amazing climate, beautiful beaches and ocean, thousands of buff Aussie swimmers and 25 (yes twenty five) public 50m pools - all for a population of one million people!

- We run fifteen Swim Smooth squad sessions a week from our home base at Claremont Pool catering for around 300 swimmers. These cover the whole spectrum of abilities from absolute beginners, developing swimmers, world class age group triathletes and masters swimmers, all the way up to elite triathletes and open water swimmers. We work with all ages and ability levels of swimmer every day and we're very proud of our ability to develop and inspire each and every one.

- We conduct between ten and fifteen full video analysis and stroke correction sessions every week and have been doing so for the last ten years. If you've been on one of our highly sought after Stroke Correction Clinics you'll know we're world leaders in the use of video analysis to diagnose and correct issues with swimmer's strokes.

- We run year round open water sessions developing and refining our swimmers' open water skills. This is another area we're very passionate about.

- Swim Smooth constantly train and develop other coaches. This includes our work with the British Triathlon Federation operating Coach Education courses for them to train the next generation of triathlon coaches in the UK in the art of swim coaching.

- Many of our coaches have elite swimming and triathlon backgrounds and all are still training, racing and having fun in the water today. Our own head coach Paul Newsome was on the UK's World Class Triathlon program in the build up to the 2000 Olympics and is still racing at a very high level today, right now in marathon open water swimming.

Working with so many swimmers in such an in depth way has created an insightful and thorough program for swimmers of all ability levels. We don't know of any other group anywhere in the world that has immersed themselves in these experiences simultaneously for over ten years - we really do 'live swimming' (and don't we know it when the alarm goes off at 4:15am every morning for squad training!).

OK, that's enough about us, we'll be back next week with more tips to develop your swimming. Thanks again for reading - we have been beavering away on six exciting projects for 2012 which we can't wait to show you. These include one special female swimmer whose stroke we've been lovingly refining.

Enjoy your time in the water!

Paul, Adam, Linda, Francene, Sandy, Sally, Shelley, Ceinwen, Nic, Adam, Noel and Jon

It's A Girl! And Things To Try When You're Feeling Ragged

Paul Newsome is very proud to announce the birth of his daughter Isla Rose on Wednesday! Paul:

"Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and kind messages over the last few days. Michelle and I are bowled over by our beautiful new baby girl... I'm the proudest and happiest Dad on the planet right now and can't wait to show her off to everyone when we see you in person!"

You can read Paul's full baby blog post with pictures here.

Things To Try In Your Stroke When You're Feeling Ragged

You know what it's like: when you are fresh and start swimming you feel great and complete your laps with a nice flowing stroke. However, as the training session or race progresses things starting to become a little ragged and your stroke feels much less effective.

Here are some very simple things you can think about to help bring your stroke back to you and keep you swimming well. Only focus on one of these at a time, try each during separate training swims and see which works best for you:

- Lightly brush your big toes together as they pass with a regular rhythm: tap tap tap tap.

- Think about keeping the lower goggle in the water when breathing using the split screen visualisation.

- Focus on keeping your lead hand constantly in motion: either extending forwards, lightly catching the water or pressing it backwards - never pausing! (this is a great visualisation for Overgliders in rehab)

- Relax and blow a constant stream of bubbles into the water a bit like you're sighing - brrrrrr!

- Stretch lightly through your core, thinking about moving your chest away from your hips as you swim.

On the face of it these tips might seem overly simple but each is very effective at controlling a particular stroke flaw as it creeps in when you get tired.

Swim Smooth!

Preparing For Long Distance Swims

Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome writes regularly for open water swimming magazine H2Open. In the latest edition Paul takes a detailed look at the preparation required for long distance swims of 5km and over. Click on the image to read a digital copy of the article from the magazine :
H2Open is a fantastic new open water swimming magazine that Swim Smooth are proud to be involved with. Find out more about the mag here and to subscribe go here.
We know from the emails you send us that many of you are interested in setting yourself a challenge in 2012 and taking on an open water swimming event or two. We'd really encourage you to go for it - they're hugely rewarding and a lot of fun to train for. Paul's article contains lots of tips on what your approach should be and how you should train for these events.

Here at Swim Smooth we're all very excited to see the boom in open water swimming that is under way around the world. All the Swim Smooth staff and coaches are open water swimmers or triathletes and we are all very passionate about swimming in the great outdoors and the rewards on offer - go for it!

Swim Smooth!

Timing The Rear Of The Stroke

Thanks for all your comments, feedback and questions we receive every week on the blog - we really enjoy reading them all here in Perth. If you've never dropped us a question before then please feel free to do so, it's very easy, all you do is visit the comments section at the bottom of each post. With nearly 50,000 subscribers now we can't promise to reply to every question directly but we do promise to read them all and steer the blog accordingly!

A couple of weeks ago on "How The Catch Should Feel To You", Mark Schnupp asked:

"I was wondering if you could expand upon this post and discuss the rotation of the hips and how they relate to the catch and pull to include timing, what to look for, what it should feel like and some drills to coordinate it. I know that I struggle with this and I'm sure others do as well. I know that all of the power comes from the rotation of the hips and would love to see a post on how that all is supposed to work."

That's a great question Mark. Many swimmers do struggle with timing their body rotation; it's one thing that separates intermediate from advanced level swimmers. Before we look at a visualisation to help you develop this, we need a quick word of caution: the reason most swimmers struggle with timing their rotation is that they have one or more fundamental stroke flaws in place. For instance:

- They have poor alignment with crossovers in front of the head or under the body.

- They have an over-glide in the stroke.

- They press down on the water during the catch phase.

- Their stroke falls apart when breathing.

Most beginner and intermediate swimmers have one or more of these problems in place in their stroke, which makes developing good rhythm and timing very difficult. If that's you it could well explain why you struggle to feel rotational power - work on those issues directly instead and good timing will start to follow naturally once everything else is right in the stroke.

That being said, if you are a stronger swimmer with a good basic stroke technique then a little focus on rhythm and timing can help bring everything together. At Swim Smooth we like to use a visualisation where we 'rotate the hips ahead of the hands':

Notice in the sequence above how the hip rotates out of the way before the hand reaches it. As your hand comes through and past your chest and stomach, visualise rotating your hip out of the way, maintaining a healthy gap between the two. Keep the effort in the arm stroke moderate and emphasise the hip rotation instead.

Try this visualisation out the next time you swim. It's at its most effective immediately after some catch development drills such as sculling and doggy paddle from our DVD Boxset or Catch Masterclass.

Swim Smooth!

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