Race The Brownlee Tri On September 26th!

Swim Smooth will be at The Brownlee Tri on September 26th! Come and join us and race at the beautiful Harewood House in North Yorkshire and in the build-up take part in our exclusive Swim Smooth Training Day (see below)!

This is your chance to meet the famous Brownlee Brothers!

The Brownlee Tri offers you a choice of sprint or super-sprint courses, either as an individual or in a team. The event features a new pontoon for the swim start and finish, a fully traffic free cycle on the same roads as the Tour de France and an off-road run on the Brownlee’s training routes. What more could you want from an event?

Enter now: www.brownleetri.com


Brownlee Tri Training Day

Excited about racing the Brownlee Tri but worried about the open water swim? You need our special Swim Smooth training day at The Blue Lagoon in Womersley on August 22nd.

This fully coached session will be grouped by ability level and focuses on getting you comfortable and relaxed in the open water. We will also work on important skills such as drafting, sighting and swimming straight to allow to swim to your potential in the great outdoors. We're also including a special transition training session to shave more time from your race.

You’ll be amazed how much you can improve in a short period of time!

Available to Brownlee Tri race entrants only: www.brownleetri.com/training-days

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Pro Triathlete Courtney Atkinson - A Very Versatile Swimmer

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

New Kings Cross London Squad Full information: here

Sherborne Swim Clinic
Full information here

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

<!--Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
A few weeks ago our Head Coach Paul Newsome was over in Sydney for the Australian Triathlon, Endurance & Cycling Expo. We're pleased to bring you a short clip from the show of Paul putting pro-triathlete Courtney Atkinson through his paces in the endless pool.

It's a fascinating session to watch because Courtney (a two time Olympian) shows us how he adapts his stroke for different conditions, using a longer smoother stroke in flat conditions but becoming slightly choppier using a much higher and straighter arm recovery in rougher conditions or close pack racing:



At Swim Smooth we call these two styles 'Smooth' and 'Swinger' and whilst the elite swimmers and triathletes of the world may not necessarily use that terminology, they very much recognise the two styles and understand instinctively when to use each.

Many elite swimmers and triathletes are able to chop and change their stroke at will like this and whilst it's a difficult skill to switch between two distinct styles, it pays dividends as they can maximise their performances in whatever conditions a race throws at them.

Some elite swimmers can even swap from a six-beat flutter kick when swimming long and smooth to a two-beat kick when upping their stroke rate in rougher conditions - now that is hard to master!

What can we take from this? Firstly, there's no one best way for everyone to swim. And secondly, we must take account of the environment in which we are swimming when developing our strokes. If you are a triathlete or swimmer racing in open water, above all else you need rhythm and purpose in your stroke if you are to be fast and efficient.

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The Problem With Swimming Principles Is...

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

New Kings Cross London Squad Full information: here

Sherborne Swim Clinic
Full information here

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

<!--Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
Just a few days ago we had an email from a swimmer saying that we should be explaining the catch as anchoring the hand on the water like a kayak blade so it doesn't slip backwards. Then think about moving the body past the stationary hand.

Occasionally we do use this analogy with a swimmer but through experience we find that for most people it leads to them searching for a feeling of locking onto the water that isn't really there. This in turn can actually harm the catch as the swimmer presses forwards or down with a straight arm searching for water pressure:




It would be wonderful if we could latch onto the water perfectly and not slip backwards during the catch and pull - every swimmer on the planet would all be a lot faster and more efficient if we could. But even elite swimmers don't, in fact they slip between 50 and 100cm on every arm stroke.

This is easy to prove: take Ian Thorpe swimming at 32 strokes in a 50m pool. After a 10m push off he has 40m left to swim in 32 strokes, giving him a length per stroke of 1.25m. However, his total reach from the front to the rear of the stroke is actually around 2m. That's a lot of slip and yet it's the fastest way for him to swim.

Ian Thorpe - the essence of long and smooth

Swimming 'principles' like the arm shouldn't slip backwards can certainly have merit but far too many people come unstuck with literal application of some of these more prominent ideas.

Other famous examples being you should take as few strokes as possible, you shouldn't splash when you swim, it's only about reducing drag and you shouldn't practise struggle. More often than not following these principles through to the nth degree causes stroke flaws such as overgliding, the overglider kickstart, an overly slow stroke rate and even a fear of training itself.

When looking for improvements a mature athlete will consider all the ideas they are applying in their preparation and whether any of those things is in fact holding them back. Could it be you need to give up a principle that you hold dear to move forwards?


A System Born From Huge Experience

Right at the heart of Swim Smooth's coaching is the fact that we look at things practically and pragmatically at all times using ideas and methods that actually work.

Of course we look at the science (we are in fact sports scientists!) but we ultimately hold true to what works for swimmers in practice. We are lucky to have worked with a huge cohort of swimmers of all shapes and sizes all around the world with a vast range of aims and abilities - tens of thousands of hours in fact - far more research to call upon than any scientific study.

Our coach Morgan Williams coined the expression Coaching The Swimmer Not The Stroke - a nice way to sum it up.

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How To Put On Your Wetsuit For Maximum Comfort And Speed

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
As we're about half way through the open water season in the northern hemisphere, we've been getting a lot of emails and tweets asking for tips on getting more comfortable swimming in a wetsuit.

Here's a quick run through of tips (also see our full video on wetsuit fitting) :

Put a plastic bag over each foot and hand in turn to help them slide easily into the suit:


Work the wetsuit material up each leg into the crotch. Depending on the length of your legs versus the suit this often means leaving a gap of a few inches between the bottom of your suit and the ankle:


To give maximum shoulder mobility, work plenty of material up the arms into the shoulder area:


Again, the suit may sit a few inches off the wrist:


Now have a friend slide their hand onto the back of your shoulder and holding the middle of the zip area, work material round to the back of the suit:


We call this 'The Human Shoe-Horn". You should find the zip then sits straight down your spine:


Repeat on the other side and you will find the zip easily does up without squeezing your chest or shoulders.

Then attach the velcro flaps to secure the back. Adjust the position depending on the size of your neck - you want it tight enough to stop water entering the suit but not so tight you can't breathe! :


Apply some wetsuit lubricant (e.g. HUUB LUUB) to the outside of the wrists and ankles of the suit. Then peel back the suit and also apply on the skin. This allows the suit to easily slip off in transition:


Also apply lubricant to the neck area if you are susceptible to chafing (always worse in salt water).

You're now ready to enter the water and when you do so, pull the neck open slightly and let a little water in:



Yes it might be cold for a moment but the water will soon warm up in the suit and it helps lubricate the neoprene against your skin.

Last but not least, if you use a classical high elbow recovery in the pool, try a slightly more open recovery so as not to fight the neoprene. More on that here:

www.feelforthewater.com/2014/06/experimenting-with-straighter-arm.html

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Announcing Six New SS Coaches in SC/NYC, Hong Kong, Dublin, Northampton, Doncaster & Oxford

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
Swim Smooth are excited to announce that six more Swim Smooth Coaches have completed their extensive training and have just become certified.

Each is an expert in advanced video analysis and stroke correction and offers you a choice of squad and coached sessions, whatever your level of swimming:




Lance Ogren, Charleston / visiting New York City: www.lanceogrencoaching.com

Lance is a US Masters Certified Level 3 Swim Coach and is currently the Head Coach of Palmetto Masters Swim Team in Mount Pleasant SC. Prior to this he was the Head Coach of the Chelsea Piers Masters Swim Team in NYC. Lance regularly visits NYC to meet with swimmers and provide Video Analysis and Stroke Correction.

Lance is the first and currently only Swim Smooth Certified Coach in North America and is proud to fly the flag stateside for us!


Dominic Tsui, Hong Kong:  swimming.fastlane@gmail.com

Dominic is our new Swim Smooth coach in Hong Kong and is a great swimmer himself, competing in 4 World Masters Championships in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Dominic finds himself swimming faster the older he gets - something he credits to better Swim Smooth technique and training methods!

If you live in Hong Kong or are planning a visit, book in for a session with Dominic today.


Sinead McBreen, Dublin: www.triswimmer.ie

We're also very proud to announce our very first coach in Ireland, Sinead McBreen. Sinead offers the full complement of Swim Smooth coaching to take your swimming to the next level, specialising in technique correction via video analysis and squad training sessions.

We've always had a huge interest in Swim Smooth in Ireland and Sinead now brings our expertise to Dublin.


Annie Oberlin-Harris, Oxford / Henley, UK: www.triswimcoaching.com

Until recently Annie was part of our in-house coaching team developing our suite of coaching products but has now setup her own coaching base offering you the full range of Swim Smooth services including video analysis and stroke correction, beginner sessions, squad sessions and open water training! Based in Oxford and Henley-on-Thames, on-line video analysis of your stroke is also available.

Annie regularly runs specialist squads, clinics and video analysis sessions in Dubai, book now for August.


Gavin Prior, Northampton, UK: www.trisomi.co.uk

With a swim squad based in Northampton (for beginners and up) providing a year-round programme of everything you would expect of a Swim Smooth certified coach - get ready to improve your swim stroke and reach your goals!

As well as face to face coaching, Gavin provides on-line swim video analysis wherever you are in the world. This can provide you with the feedback and guidance you need even if you can’t get to a 1-2-1 session.


Morgan Williams, Doncaster, UK: www.coachmorg.com

Morgan is an experienced open water swimming and triathlon coach having been at the forefront of the development of open water swimming and triathlon for over 10 years. Morgan's base in the very heart of Yorkshire is the stunning Blue Lagoon where he regularly runs open water swim squads and workshops in the summer months.

Throughout the year Morgan runs regular pool based swim squads, workshops and video analysis stroke correction sessions at numerous venues around Yorkshire.




For full information on all of our other certified coaches see:

www.swimsmooth.com/certifiedcoaches

We're sorry if we don't yet have a coach in your area. We have another talented set coming through the selection and training process right now from all around the world but this does take time - we can't rush the training process, the quality of our coaching is everything.

Swim Smooth!
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Glide Is A Dirty Word

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here
Newsflash: SS Head Coach Paul Newsome has just touched down in Sydney for the ATEC show this weekend at The Dome, Sydney Olympic Park - where Ian Thorpe and his super-smooth stroke blew the world away at the 2000 Olympics. If you're in Sydney come and meet Paul, have your stroke analysed and corrected by him in the Fastlane pool, and sit in on his seminars. See you there!


This week's post is a re-visit of our popular (and detailed) 2012 blog Overgliding, Inefficiency And The Overgliderometer :

Glide Is A Dirty Word

Many well meaning swimmers and coaches talk about the benefit of 'gliding' through the water when swimming but have you ever thought what it actually means to glide?

A strict definition of gliding is to consider the time between one arm finishing a stroke finishing at the rear and the next commencing the catch at the front:



This gap between strokes is the true 'glide time' when there is no propulsion from either arm and you are truly gliding through the water.


Elite Glide Time

The interesting thing is that many elite swimmers look like they're gliding when they swim but what actually is their gap between strokes? The answer may surprise you. If we study footage frame by frame of greats such as Ian Thorpe, Rebecca Adlington, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Alex Popov and Sun Yang, the gap between their strokes is remarkably similar: between 0.10 and 0.20 seconds (see examples here and here).

1 to 2 tenths of a second is literally less than a blink of an eye and goes to show that although these great swimmers appear to be glide down the pool this is actually an illusion brought about by the smoothness of their strokes.


Your Glide Time

So what does it feel like to swim with a 'glide time' of 0.1 to 0.2 seconds? When you swim with this timing you are hardly aware of any gap between your strokes - it feels like you are stroking smoothly and continuously from one stroke to the next without any perceptible pause at the front.

If you have added a deliberate pause-and-glide into your stroke then it's likely the gap between your strokes is at least 0.4 to 0.5 seconds:

Classic Overglider: Glide time 0.45 sec, swimming speed speed 1:42 /100m
This gap is now long enough for large inefficiencies to be developing as you start to decelerate and sink deeper into the water (creating additional drag) between strokes.

If you've tried to *really* emphasise a glide in your timing then your gap between strokes may be as long as 0.7 to 1.2 seconds (we define anything over 0.7 seconds as extreme Overgliding). Now the stroke is becoming so inefficient it's unlikely you can swim more than a few lengths without feeling exhausted and having to stop for rest:

Extreme Overglider: Glide time 0.84 sec, speed 2:56 /100m
Notice how this swimmer has sunk completely beneath the surface creating huge amounts of drag and making finding the surface to breathe extremely challenging.


Getting Very Geeky

If (like us) you love your numbers and data then you will be interested in the chart we've plotted below. This is the data from 75 swimmers of all ability levels from beginner level to Olympic champions. It includes most of the famous swimming demonstration clips on Youtube.

We plotted each swimmer's speed versus their glide time:

The remarkable thing about this data is the strength of the relationship between glide and speed. The longer the gap between strokes, the slower and less efficient the swimmer is.

Of course the real clincher for our argument against actively gliding is the circled region:

In that area would be swimmers travelling quickly and efficiently but with a significant glide in their strokes. But there aren't any. None. These swimmers simply don't exist.


Glide Is A Dirty Word?

When we wrote the Swim Types website in 2010, we described 'Glide As A Dirty Word'. Perhaps unsurprisingly we copped a bit of flack from old-school swim coaches for making that statement but perceptions in the swimming world have shifted hugely over the last five years and now our argument stands largely unchallenged.

Glide is a term that has been used by well meaning swim coaches since the 1980s to encourage swimmers to lengthen out their strokes. However the reality is that when asked to glide down the pool swimmers overly lengthen their strokes by adding an intentional pause-and-glide at the front.

As we have seen this dead-spot is very inefficient and once ingrained it is very hard to remove from the stroke timing. It also causes other significant flaws in the stroke to develop:

- Putting on the brakes

- The overglider kickstart

Far better that we explain to swimmers that the goal isn't to make the stroke as long as possible (elite swimmers don't). And better to avoid the word 'glide' because it too easily introduces a deliberate pause. Let's talk about 'range' or 'extension' in the stroke but not 'glide' - swimmers will be much much better off for it.

Swim Smooth!

[After the original blog a few fellow swim geeks asked us why we plotted the data against glide time, not percentage of the stroke cycle. Time is a more meaningful analysis because deceleration (and so the impact on speed/efficiency) is dv/dt not dv/d-cycle.]
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