UK Clinics, Interviews & Rough Open Water Tips

Three items for you this week:

UK Clinics

SS head coaches Paul Newsome and Adam Young are across in the UK from Australia in July and August, and will be running three Swim Smooth clinics. Sign up quick, there won't be any more this year :

The main purpose of the trip is running our Coach Education courses and watching the Olympics, so we only have time for three clinics.

Triathlete Europe Interviews
Adam and Paul were recently interviewed in the June issue of Triathlete Europe magazine in their 'Industry Insider' feature. If you missed the mag and would like to find out a bit more about how Swim Smooth came to be and where we're heading, you can read the article here :

Triathlete Europe is a truly excellent magazine and also runs a very extensive news and training articles website :

Swimming In Open Water Is Just Like Swimming In The Pool, Isn't It?

Something we often hear on internet forums is that swimming in open water is just like swimming in the pool. Unfortunately it isn't!

What do you do when you turn up at a race and are faced with conditions like those pictured on the right? Our tips:

- Stay calm before the start and back yourself to cope.
- As soon as you're swimming, make sure you exhale smoothly into the water, this will help you relax and stay aerobic.

- Use a slightly straighter arm recovery to give you a greater arm clearance over the surface of the water.

- Focus on momentum in your stroke: shorten things a touch and keep a strong rhythm to help punch through waves and chop. This is a little like using a smaller gear on the bike, you turn over quicker but each stroke is easier to keep the effort level the same.

- Avoid over-gliding in your stroke at all costs or you will be swamped by waves and chop, and could end up being swept backwards!

- Enjoy the challenge and repeat to yourself a positive mantra that works for you, e.g. when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Cheesy but effective!

Remember that everyone finds swimming in rough conditions hard and swims slower than in flat conditions, even professional athletes. But cope well using the tips above and you will doing better than 90% of the field and will put a lot of time and distance into your competitors.

Whilst you may not be planning to be swimming in rough open water conditions, even a mirror flat lake will be churned into a lumpy, choppy mess by other swimmers in your race. For that reason a super-long pool stroke is rarely effective in open water.

Swim Smooth!

A Simple But Powerful Drill Sequence

Here in Perth we frequently use a simple drill sequence with the Swim Smooth squads, it's a progression that you can easily introduce into your technique sets or during the warm-up of any session. You may already be performing a similar drill and not truly appreciate the dramatic improvement it can make to your stroke with a different focus.

Your Stroke While Breathing

As you know, here at Swim Smooth we very much favour an individual approach to correcting someone's stroke. However, within our drill set we use several of our 'core' drills with nearly all swimmers as they tackle a wide range of stroke flaws. One such drill is kicking-on-your-side using a pair of flexible fins, it's a very powerful but often misunderstood drill.

Most swimmers (around 80%) lose stroke form when going to take a breath in. This is a critical point in your stroke for two reasons:

1. Most swimmers hold onto their breath underwater rather than exhaling smoothly and continuously whenever they are face down. As a result they feel a strong urgency (or even a desperation) for air, such that when they do go to breathe their focus is entirely on the breath, allowing stroke flaws to creep in elsewhere in the stroke.

2. Many swimmers breathe only to one side and as a result have developed a lop-sided stroke, twisting through the middle when they breathe and crossing the mid-line with the lead hand in front of their head.

You are really very likely to have one or both of these issues in your stroke and be losing a huge chunk of speed and efficiency as a result. If you are swimming in open water then a lop-sided stroke and crossover will make you swim off course and lose you even more time. In fact our work with GPS devices shows swimming 20% or more over-distance is very common for swimmers with a crossover, an incredible statistic.

The following drill sequence is designed to tackle these issues and help you improve your stroke while you are breathing.

Kicking On Your Side

Using a pair of flexible fins, kick on your side for 25m with your left arm extended out in front of your head with the palm of your hand facing the bottom of the pool. The other arm should be held by your side, as if it's resting in the front pocket of your trousers. Whilst on your side, kick relatively gently using the fins to provide propulsion so you can focus on what is happening in front of your head.

Hold good posture by drawing your shoulder blades together and back, which will straighten you out. This is a fundamentally important position in freestyle to avoid rolling the shoulders too far forward, which can be partly to blame for a crossover in front of the head in the first place.

If you are very flexible through the upper back and shoulders you may be able to over-do this and draw the lead arm wide. Think straighter, not wider!

Breathe to your right hand side whenever you need to and return your head to look down in the water, maintaining good exhalation. Feel smooth, rhythmical and calm but with a sense of poise about your body.

After 25m of this drill, transition straight into 25m of normal freestyle but still only breathe to the right side. Breathe comfortably every 2 or 4 strokes and maintain focus only on your lead arm spearing straight forwards as you breathe to the side. Try focusing on the middle finger of that lead hand and where it is pointing, aiming gun-barrel straight down the lane!

Now repeat on the other side as 25m kick with the right arm extended (breathing to your left) and then 25m normal freestyle only breathing left.

Same Drill Different Purpose?

You may have tried a similar drill many times before but perhaps focused on something else such as body rotation. This sequence provides a different meaning to the drill by focusing on your posture, holding yourself straight and aligned, even whilst breathing.

Try this sequence before a challenging main set and see if you can maintain a good focus on your posture and alignment when you turn up the speed dial. You could well swim a PB set right off the bat!

Swim Smooth!

Our New Swim Type Video Sequences

Firstly, a quick reminder that our new book is now on sale :

The book's been selling like hot cakes since we announced it on the blog last week with half of our stock sold in the last 7 days! Don't risk missing out, order now!

New Swim Type Sequences

Our Swim Types system eschews the 'one size fits all' approach to swim coaching and recognises the individual shapes, sizes and personalities that we all have and how that impacts on how we swim. We've pulled together some detailed video sequences showing you each of our six Swim Types in action. When you see these clips below you can really understand the common aspects between different swimmers of each type and how each stroke type fits together.

Identify your own Swim Type and we'll show you exactly what's holding you back. Then, by using one of our 20 page Swim Type Guides we'll give you detailed step-by-step instructions to improve your swimming.

Are you forever stuck as your swim type? Absolutely not. The types are the six classic ways that people swim given their current ability level. As you develop your swimming you will move away from your original type, ideally towards one of the two 'ideal' stroke styles: the Swinger or the Smooth.

Check out these new sequences, we think you'll find them fascinating :

Swim Smooth!

Announcing Our New Book: The Complete Swim Smooth Coaching System!

Have you enjoyed our Swim Smooth website and this blog? If so, you'll simply love our new book, launching today! :

There's never been a swimming book like this before, it's packed with hundreds of photos, diagrams, descriptions, explanations and step by step instructions to take your swimming to the next level. All written in Swim Smooth's clear and easy to understand style. Full information here.

Published by one of the largest publishing companies in the world John Wiley & Sons, it's taken over a year for Paul Newsome and Adam Young to write and is based on all our work and experiences at Swim Smooth since our creation in 2004.

The book contains everything you need to understand your swimming and take it forwards:

• How to develop every aspect of your freestyle stroke technique with step by step methods.

• Our complete drill set with detailed descriptions and photos.

• How to take a truly individual approach to your swimming, so that you develop a stroke style that really works for you.

• Becoming a great open water swimmer, overcoming anxiety and developing those critical open water skills.

• Developing your specific swimming fitness, a much overlooked and misunderstood subject but one that can make a huge difference to your level of comfort and performances.

• Dry land strength and conditioning to improve your swimming.

• Combine our unique skeleton structure with detailed technique and training sets to transfer what you've learnt into practical swim sessions to follow. Using this structure you can create over 5000 unique sessions!

Here at Swim Smooth we're extremely proud of this new work. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced swimmer it is packed with the insight and methods you need to take your swimming to the next level.

The book is now on sale on our website, order today and we will ship to you on 15th June (next Friday) wherever you are in the world:

Swim Smooth!

The Corkscrew Open Water Turn

If you are looking to excel in open water races or triathlon swim legs then you need to regularly practise your turns. Every open water turn gives you the opportunity to save a few seconds and the possibility of dropping other swimmers who may be drafting off you.

In this post we're going to look at an advanced way of turning called a corkscrew turn. It's a fast and tight way to cut round a buoy and a very useful skill to have in your locker. Even if you are not an advanced swimmer give this a try in training, it's a lot of fun and makes turns a lot easier when you need to cut a tight line at a turn buoy.

The Corkscrew Turn

Take a look at the following image sequence of Paul Newsome demonstrating this turn:

Paul approaches at full speed (1) and slides his arm closest to the buoy (2) past it, note at this point he has his back to the buoy and can't see it. He then flips onto his back (3) and his recovering arm comes over the top as in backstroke, enters the water at the front (4) and continues the body rotation back onto his front again (5). Setting off on his new heading he quickly gets back up to speed using good stroke rhythm and a healthy burst of leg kick (6).

Turning left (as shown above) you slide your left hand past the buoy to rotate onto your back, whilst turning right you slide your right arm past. Make sure you practise both! In a particularly tight turn you might not be able to turn sufficiently in a single corkscrew, in which case perform two in a row, one immediately followed by another.

If you are relatively new to swimming then this may look like an advanced skill but it is not actually that hard when you get the feel and timing of it.

Turns And Strategy

A conventional turn bends you through a wide arc as you stay on your front and you gradually stroke around the turn (blue line below) :

That's fine but if the wider path is blocked by slow swimmers you are going to be held up without the ability to perform a corkscrew turn which is much tighter (red). In relation to other swimmers drafting you, if they can't perform a tight turn themselves then you have a golden opportunity to shake them off your toes.

Practise In Training

There's very little chance of turning up on race day and performing a good corkscrew turn without practising them beforehand. Get together with some friends in open water, or in an open area of your pool, and work on getting the feel and rhythm of them. It's a lot of fun and like all open water skills can make a huge difference to your performance on race day, so much so that you should practise these skills all year round either in open water or in the pool.

Swim Smooth!

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