Meet Byron And Brad - Same Speed, Very Different Strokes

As you know at Swim Smooth we take a very individual approach to swim coaching, tailoring our advice for your specific needs as a swimmer. Here's a great example of why we do that.

Meet Brad Smith (28) and Byron Kimber (16), the two fastest swimmers in the Swim Smooth squads in Perth. Here they are picking up their awards after winning their respective categories (open and under 18 respectively) at the recent State Championship Open Water Series:

The first thing that will strike you is that they are very different heights and builds. Byron's 5' 0" (1.52m) tall and weighs just 44kg. Brad is 6'2" and literally twice Byron's weight!

Despite this difference in height and build they both swim at very similar speeds (CSS pace around 1:06 per 100m!) and together they form an exclusive pairing at the very front of our fastest lane in the squad. Both swim at an extremely high level, Brad setting the fourth fastest time ever for the 19.7km Rottnest Channel swim back in February and also holds the world record for the 25km Port-To-Pub.

What do they look like in the water? Let's take a look at both swimming at the recent Port-to-Pub event here in Perth, held in super-rough conditions. Here's Brad filmed by Paul Newsome from his support boat:

Click image to play Instagram video

We are very privileged to have a swimmer of Brad's calibre in the Swim Smooth Perth squad. As you can see he's got a classically long and powerful stroke, very similar in style to open water swimming greats such as Oussama Mellouli and Ferry Weertman, winners of the last two Olympic 10km marathon swims. Note his stroke is long but still has plenty of rhythm - an essential ingredient to swimming well in any open water conditions, let alone those as rough as this.

Talking of rhythm, check our Byron in the same conditions. In fact so tough were the conditions that the race was abandoned by the organisers soon after this footage was taken:

Click image to play Instagram video

Byron's absolutely killing it, swimming super effectively and powering through the rolling swells at nearly 100 strokes per minute (SPM)!

Byron recently finished 3rd in the Australian National Champs and at the tender age of 16, he is only going to get better. Being told to glide more "to be more efficient" just doesn’t work for this super-fish so instead we work with his attributes and strengths to make him a truly world class open water swimmer.

Exciting times for both these amazing swimmers ahead!

What Can We Learn From This?

There are two key take-aways here:

- Firstly, we have two swimmers both operating at a very high level but with COMPLETELY different stroke styles. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is no single best way for everyone to swim. You need a stroke style that suits you height, build, fitness, flexibility and goals, and that could be completely different from your best friend, or the fastest swimmer in your club that you admire. This idea is at the very heart of Swim Smooth coaching.

- Secondly, if you are not the tallest person in the world you might have been thinking that your height is holding you back. Byron shows us this need not be the case! You will never have as long a stroke as someone much taller than you but you can still have a very effective stroke: a great technique combined with a faster turnover is the key here.

Depending on your level of ability you might not hit 100 SPM like Byron but it could well be developing things progressively into the 65-80SPM range is right for you. We're not asking you to fight the water - quite the opposite - you can do this working with the water to move you effectively and powerfully forwards - just like Byron.

Swim Smooth!

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Unknown said...

Thanks for these footages. Both are beautiful swimmers, shining in those dreadful conditions. After months of training I finally found my SPM is 69-71. The tempo trainer is compulsory, but pull-buoy length help a lot to define the best SPM at constant speed.

Unknown said...

Brilliant article to demonstrate that short swimmers can be as good as tall swimmers, thank you this has made me understand i need to work on my stroke rate (amongst other things!) Thanks Byron and Brad

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