What's the difference between Swim Smooth and Masters swimming?


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We've just arrived back in Perth from a big trip to California, running our 3 Day Coach Education course in sunny San Diego. One question we got asked all the time in the states was: What's the difference between Swim Smooth and Masters swimming?

Like most of our US coaches, Swim Smooth
Coach John Chipponeri is also US Masters qualified

Here's one of the twenty coaches on the course reflecting on the need for a Swim Smooth setup in their location:

I think that there are a lot of people in the area and surrounding regions that are looking for help in their triathlon/open water swim technique and training. There are not many systematic approaches available, so a lot of times these athletes are on their own or going from coach-to-coach to find answers, further confusing themselves. A clear, progressive technique and training philosophy, combined with a positive, fun environment is the perfect solution! A Swim Smooth program would be a breath of fresh air for many frustrated and confused swimmers/triathletes!!


As Brittany points out there, unlike most swim programs Swim Smooth is entirely focused on distance freestyle for open water swimming and triathlon. In contrast Masters covers all four strokes with a major focus on sprint events.

Most countries around the world have Masters swimming and these programs do a great job for senior swimmers racing all four strokes in the pool. The preparation required for longer events and triathlon / open water swimming requires a slightly different focus:

That's where Swim Smooth comes in, it's an entire coaching system designed from the bottom up for distance freestyle swimmers and those racing in open water and triathlon.

Whereas Masters develops all four competitive strokes, Swim Smooth's program focuses almost entirely on distance freestyle swimming. Many swimmers have limited training time (commonly swimming 2-3 times per week) and so you require maximum "specificity" on freestyle to achieve your best performances.

Fiona Ford - Richmond, London

Swim Smooth also places a large focus on developing swimmers who are relatively new to the sport. It's fair to say that the majority of our swimmers and triathletes do not have a swimming background and our methods allow for that. In this way the technique work we focus on takes account of your specific needs.
Bart Rolet - Swim Smooth Montreal

At Swim Smooth we also focus on training methods to give best performance over distances of 750m and longer. Preparation for swims of 750 to 3800m is at the core of our program with specific sessions developing you for longer events such as 5 and 10km open water swims. What does this mean in practise? Less focus on sprinting with long recovery times and a much larger emphasis on sustained-speed over longer distances with shorter recoveries. This would be far from ideal for sprinters but as a distance swimmer or triathlete delivers you break-through performances.

Fenella Ng & Annemarie Munk - Swim Smooth Hong Kong

Our focus on open water swimming means we aim to develop strokes that perform well when swimming in close proximity to other swimmers. Typically this means a greater focus on stroke rhythm and less emphasis on the kick for propulsion. You will still perform at a high level in the pool but in the open water you will really excel.

Rob Kwaaitaal - Swim Smooth Netherlands

That open water focus also means transitioning away from practising starts and turns for pool racing towards developing key open water skills such as drafting, sighting, swimming straight and mass starts. When mastered, these skills are worth many minutes in an open water swim.

Jana Schoeman, Swim Smooth Johannesburg

At Swim Smooth we are big fans of Masters swimming - in fact many of our coaches (such as Lance Ogren, Linda Bostic and Mike Jotautus - all of whom are brilliant masters swimmers in their own right) run fabulous Masters programs but also recognise the need for what Swim Smooth provides and run Swim Smooth squads in parallel for these types of swimmers.

If you are training for open water swimming or triathlon you'll get a huge amount out of a Swim Smooth Squad and as Brittany pointed out above, you'll love the camaraderie we foster - training for longer events can be challenging but we guarantee we'll make it fun and rewarding!

Jason Tait - Swim Smooth Swindon, UK


Find Your Nearest Swim Smooth Squad

As you can probably tell we're passionate about providing as many distance swimmers as possible with the perfect group-training environment. Interested in joining one of our squads? Find your nearest here:


We can't wait to welcome you aboard!

Paul Newsome - Swim Smooth Perth

Join The Movement

We have an extensive on-going program in place to find and train the most passionate coaches all over the planet in Swim Smooth's unique approach to swimming. If you are a coach and are interested in joining our movement then you can find out more about becoming a Swim Smooth Coach here:


The first step on that (significant) journey is to join our Coaches Network:


Don't delay - remember procrastination is the dream killer - just start!

Dying to get to work on your swimming: November 2017 San Diego Coach Education Course

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