Friday, August 11, 2017

50 Shades Of Smooth


L-R: Professor Huub Toussaint, Deano Jackson, Adam Young, Paul Newsome

In September 2011 at their very inception, the world’s leading wetsuit and swimwear manufacturer HUUB Design selected us to be one of two key partners in their product design team. Why were we attractive to them? It's our ability to recognise the individual "greyscale" of the way you swim - doing so allows HUUB to create wetsuits and swimwear that far surpasses anything else available on the market.

Where others only operate in black or white, we see every shade of grey in between. We see you...


50 Shades Of Smooth

Week in, week out, we are blessed to receive amazing emails and messages from all levels of swimmer around the world who have discovered Swim Smooth somewhere along our 13 year journey. At 4am here in Perth, as we have breakfast before heading down to Claremont Pool, there's nothing we like more than catching up on those messages from some of our 120,000 followers, of which you are one. Often it's a story about how you've unlocked something in your swimming, or you're asking a technical question or we're considering your ideas for future Swim Smooth features.

YOU are what keeps us beavering away to raise the standards of swim coaching even higher around the globe and not settle for the status quo. So keep those emails, feedback, suggestions, Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagrams coming! You are a key part of the energy that builds Swim Smooth:


The 1976 Montréal Olympic Stadium plays host to www.swimsmoothmontreal.com
- brilliantly lead by Swim Smooth Coach Bart Rolet

Coach Gemma in The Woodlands, TX ensures her troops - no matter what level of initial ability - ALL improve using principles and practices we have been espousing for the last 13 years

Building a movement like Swim Smooth is not always easy, and like in any walk of life you have to have a deep-seated passion and belief that what you are offering is the very best for the people you are serving. Of course, we're frequently challenged on some of our ideas too - and that’s OK - we get just as excited about those emails as well!

Over the last 13 years we've been fortunate to coach and communicate with hundreds of thousands of swimmers worldwide, who occupy every notch on that greyscale spectrum. Swimmers just like you.

In Perth alone, we've been running 12 squad sessions per week to 450 individual swimmers for 13 years straight and we now have replica versions of the Perth squads in 40 other locations worldwide. That's a helluva lot of coaching! Each setup is run by a Swim Smooth Certified Coach that has been hand-selected, tutored and mentored by the core Swim Smooth team to ensure that they are unrivalled in their coaching ability. You can literally rock up to any of these squads worldwide and receive the exact same reception and experience as you would where it all started here in Perth.

This huge breadth and depth of coaching experience gave us the insight to develop the unique Swim Types coaching model, released in 2010:

Swim Types, original and unique since 2010

Prior to Swim Types being released, the status quo was to coach a single "ideal" stroke irrespective of people's height, weight, age, gender, body type, personality, ability and experience. A one-size fits all approach. Aim to look like Ian Thorpe, even if you're five foot nothing. This might make for a good cookie-cutter business model but it’s ultimately just lazy coaching.

In contrast, great coaching seeks to coach the individual, not the stroke, as there is no one ideal stroke for everyone. There can't be. A simple viewing of last month’s World Championships is testament to that. Across all sports, many great coaches have employed such an individual mindset but we like to think we've been responsible for popularising this idea in swimming and bringing wide attention to it.

Swim Types is our vehicle that allows both swimmers (and their coach) to understand and address what is truly holding them back in the water.

A great quote on the power of "categorising" your swimming from Tim Ferris’s recent publication, Tools of Titans

Swim Types works because stroke flaws don't appear randomly, they actually come in clusters. Six common clusters representing the six Swim Types. The power of the system is that once you recognise your type we can given you a proven, refined process to improve your swimming. A process that won't work for any other type (in fact it could even make their swimming worse!).

It’s not pigeon-holing but a blueprint for success. Of course it’s significantly harder to coach this way and requires much more skill as a coach, but the upside is that you the swimmer get the best result, and isn’t that what great coaching is truly all about?

Getting the best coaching to every level and type of swimmer is where our motivation lies, where it's always laid, and why we get up at 4am 364 days a year to seek out what will truly work for you. To let you become the swimmer you deserve to be.

Once you start to recognise people’s individuality you can do one of two powerful things:

- See the strengths in a swimmer's stroke rather than just being blindsided by the faults - this is a positive space to be in for both swimmer and coach.

- Realise that there is no black and white definitively best way for everybody to swim - it’s a greyscale spectrum. It allows you to understand and accept that even those who don't look technically perfect may actually be succeeding because of their stroke, not despite it (even at an elite level).  We believe every great swimmer deserves credit irrespective of how they look.

Take a listen to the audio on this commentary by the BBC:


Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri is on his way to winning the men's 1500 freestyle in Budapest, backing up his Olympic Gold 11 months prior. Surely there's something in the way he swims that makes him this great?

Knocking Paltrinieri's "unorthodox" stroke in comparison to Romanchuk's "long, easy strokes" shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what makes a great swimmer. Both styles are valid, both men are swimming incredibly well. How can Paltrinieri be doing anything fundamentally wrong? It's a good job Paltrinieri’s coach isn't a "betting man" and has promoted and supported Paltrinieri's natural style rather than trying to mould him to look more like Romanchuk. Good on you Stefano Morini!

But whilst we're here we'd like to point something out... related to questions we get like this:

"Why don't you change your name to Swing Smooth if you hate long smooth, gliding strokes so much?".

Yes, we often find ourselves promoting and celebrating the Swinger style, as demonstrated here by Paltrinieri but also famously used by the Brownlee Brothers, Janet Evans and many others. We do this because it is so unappreciated and so commonly denigrated by arm-chair experts. Of course we also love the Smooth style (Romanchuk's here) - after all it is equally phenomenal when performed well by the right swimmer. We do support the Swinger swim style, for sure, but for everyone? - No way!

The point here isn't that one of these two styles is better than the other (although they do have subtle strengths and weaknesses) the point is that these contrasting styles suit different swimmers. Use the wrong one and that swimmer's performances will quickly deteriorate. We wish more coaches understood this point as it would greatly improve their coaching.

There are no extra points or time bonuses for those with pretty strokes in any swimming discipline!

Ultimately the Swim Types model is all about acknowledging this sage piece of advice:




We believe it is this willingness to experiment, to seek out the real truth that truly sets Swim Smooth apart. It’s not easy to continuously push forwards and "do things right" but we're happy to take the flack from those trying to hold everything back.

Start improving your own swimming using the Swim Types system here:

and here:

If there’s one thing that drives us forwards - as cliché as it may seem - it is this quote from the late Steve Jobs and founder of Apple. We hope you like it and we hope it in some way it ignites the same level of passion in you and your pursuits as it does in our coaching:

Watch the video here: youtube.com/watch?v=8rwsuXHA7RA

Thanks for listening,

Paul & Adam

Swim Smooth

3 comments:

Carol Fehner said...

You are so right about the different styles for different folks. We are delighted here in San Diego to have John with us. I am nowhere near a great or competitive swimmer but his eye and encouragement are very helpful in fine tuning what I do.

Paul said...

You've got a great coach and a brilliant guy there in John Carol, so please keep us posted with you get on!

Katherine said...

So grateful for Swim Smooth! I'm a 55 yo fitness swimmer with no formal swim training and limited funds so this program is my coach. I've learned to correct my technique allowing my sore shoulder to heal. Thx for putting fun and practical help at my fingertips! You are like a swimming lifeline for many of us!