Should I Use A Snorkel To Develop My Stroke Technique?

Here's a question we get asked a lot: Should I swim with a snorkel in training to develop my stroke technique without the distraction of breathing?

The potential benefits of using a snorkel in this way are clear - rotating to the side to inhale can easily cause over-rotation, a loss of balance and a pressing down during the catch. Over time all of these stroke flaws can become a habit in your stroke:

Con presses down on the water at the front of the stroke whilst breathing and
over-rotates such that his legs scissor kick apart.
The idea of swimming with a snorkel is that you can avoid these problems and learn better technique such that when you remove the snorkel the motor patterns will stick.

So should you?

In our opinion, using a snorkel can be a useful exercise but only if you are very relaxed and confident using it. For most swimmers using a snorkel feels very strange and you may be concerned and distracted about water coming down the tube. It can also lead to feelings of claustrophobia.

That's why we don't use snorkels as a matter of course through our coaching. If you have a specific problem to work on related to breathing and are experienced and confident using a snorkel then by all means try it. Make sure you use a front-mounted freestyle specific snorkel though (not a beach snorkel) as they won't pull the mouthpiece out of your mouth at swimming speeds.

Finis make an excellent one of these:

Which you can see in our Swim Shop here:

As with all swimming aids be careful not to become addicted to using it and make sure you conduct the majority of your swimming without.

Stroke Correction Without A Snorkel

So how do we go about fixing stroke flaws whilst breathing? We have many drills and methods in the Swim Smooth Guru designed to do this targeting specific stroke flaws. A favourite is the Javelin Drill which involves kicking on your side in the position you want to hit whilst practising breathing, before introducing breathing strokes:

Javelin uses a paddle on the lead hand to improve your proprioception of the stroking hand and arm whilst performing the drill. Always breathe away from the paddle.

You can watch the Javelin drill demonstration and receive all the coaching points in the Guru here (subscription required):

Swim Smooth!

The Swim Smooth Podcast Is Now Live On All Channels!

We've just released episodes 2 and 3 of the shiny new Swim Smooth Podcast and the great news is that it's now available on all podcasting channels for you:

Join SS Head Coaches Paul Newsome and Adam Young as they bring our highly popular blog to life with tips, tricks and techniques to help you maximise your swimming efficiency and enjoyment in the water. Paul and Adam will have interviews with a wide-range of athletes from the very top of the sport to the everyday heroes that espouse what the Swim Smooth philosophy is all about.

Please subscribe on your channel and if you love it give us a 5 star rating too - that will help us spread everything Swim Smooth to the swimming and triathlon worlds!

Episode 2: Interview with Tom Hickman of the Bali-Hope SwimRun Challenge

Tom Hickman is the founder of SE Asia's very first SwimRun event, taking place in Bali on the 5th to 9th December 2018 with Paul taking part in the event on the island of Nusa-Lembogan.

In the show Paul and Adam discuss with Tom the issues of plastic wastage facing the oceans and waterways of the world, specifically in the Bali region. We discuss the event itself and how to train up for a SwimRun event including a brief discussion on equipment choices etc. The guys also discuss the charity aspect of the event and how Paul and teammate Brad Smith will be getting their hands dirty on the beaches with a plastics clean-up effort as well as visiting schools and local communities in the region in aid of the Bali Children's Foundation.

To donate to this very worthy cause and give the boys a bit of support, please visit:

You might also like to watch this clip of Paul and Andy Blow from Precision Hydration discussing further details of SwimRun equipment choices:

Listen here:

Or on one of the channels above.

Episode 3: Interview with Dean Jackson - the man - the myth - the legend - behind HUUB Design

Paul and Adam meet up with "Deano" Jackson to discuss Ross Edgley's brilliant #GreatBritishSwim as well as how the Brownlee Brothers have helped to shape the future of the brand, originally conceived in a Costa Coffee in Folkestone, UK!

This fact-filled show charters the history of the UK's biggest and best wetsuit brand, HUUB Design. During the show, Dean Jackson (#gamechanger) discusses with Paul and Adam the vision for the company and recalls how Paul and Adam's insight utilising the Swim Smooth Swim Types methodology helped conceive the first few series of suits to embrace and acknowledge how everyone needs a suit to fit them individually with respect to their buoyancy profile and how they swim.

We get the low-down and juicy inside information about Red Bull's Ross Edgley's amazing 2800km swim around the UK (#GreatBritishSwim) and how many wetsuits it took to get him round during this epic 157 circumnavigation to set an amazing new world record.

Dean discusses how the Brownlee Brothers (who share 4 Olympic medals in triathlon, including 2 gold) helped give their insight into the new Agilis suit and we also hear about what the future has instore with the new HUUB / Wattbike track cycling team.

One thing's for sure - this is a not-to-be-missed episode of the Swim Smooth Podcast!

Listen here:

Or on one of the channels above.

Thanks for listening,

Swim Smooth!

Take On The 2km Every Other Day Challenge

Here's a simple swim session that SS Head Coach Paul Newsome has started doing over in Perth, along with a number of other swimmers that we coach.

We call it The 2km Every Other Day Challenge - the idea is to swim 2000m every other day at an "enjoyable" pace to develop some steady state aerobic efficiency. If you’ve lost a little mojo lately, see if you can use this challenge to bring back a bit of pure enjoyment for the tranquility and simplicity of steady swimming performed with good pacing.

Ideally this session is done with a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro set to mode 2, as a pacing guide to refer to. Dial in the slowest pace per 100m you would be happy with even on a bad day - we suggest 6-8 seconds per 100m slower than your CSS pace. So if your CSS pace is 1:40 /100m, add 6 seconds to give 1:46 and enter that in the beeper so it beeps every 100m to you. You can swim to the beep or if you feel good get a little ahead of it, but don't go too hard, remember it's a steady paced swim.

If you own a Platysens Marlin you can set your target pace in the same way, plus the Marlin will record your swim so you can check your pacing (see some of Paul's Marlin data for this session below).

The first time you try this session you will doubtless go off too fast, dial back significantly and hopefully find your groove from about 700m in. Remember, it’s NOT a race, it's steady paced swimming like a long run or ride.

Here's Paul's times since he started the session on October 11th - you can see he's progressively getting quicker, getting further ahead of his beeper (set for him to 1:30/100m):

You can swim some harder training sessions in-between these 2km swims, for instance a CSS session or even a mighty Red Mist set. Not only do the 2km swims help develop that low level aerobic base but they also assist with recovery from the harder sessions.

For a bit more background, watch Paul's introduction to the session here:

Here's his lap pace recorded by his Marlin during today's session:

Notice how consistent his pacing is without any especially fast (or slow) laps.

Also on his Guru Performance Profile we can see how steady paced this swim was (yellow line) versus his best times swum with his Marlin in all his training (green line):

Give it a go and let us know how you get on in the blog comments, or on social media using #2kmeveryotherday and #swimsmooth. We predict you'll be feeling the benefits after 6 sessions.

Swim Smooth!

The SS Podcast Episode 1: Dan Plews (Kona Age Group Record Holder)

Yes it's here: After many requests over the years we've finally released the very first Swim Smooth Podcast to the world!

Swim Smooth founders Paul Newsome and Adam Young will be interviewing fascinating guests from around the swimming world and discussing in depth how to improve your swimming through better technique, training and open water skills.

We have a little more time on a podcast than in a blog post to explore some of these subjects in a bit more detail - and can't wait to share that insight with you.

In Episode 1 we have a special interview with the phenomenal age-group triathlete Dan Plews, who just set the FASTEST EVER age-group time at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships:

As you'll discover, Dan's a brilliant athlete but also a leading Sports Science PhD conducting important research in the field of endurance sports. Not only does he have an extensive knowledge of preparing for endurance sports but he has an ability to put that knowledge in easy to understand advice for you to follow.

Paul and Dan have been lifelong friends and share a few stories from their very early days in the sport in Yorkshire. In fact Paul's been helping get Dan's swimming back on track and wrote his swim program for the build up to the race. Want to see Dan swim and how he got in such good swim shape? Watch Paul's analysis of his stroke here:

(Video analysis sessions are fascinating to watch but what if you could get a Swim Smooth Analysis on your own stroke? Well you can too using one of our highly trained Swim Smooth Coaches:

Is Dan the perfect guest to kick off our new Podcast? We think so! Listen here:

We're still finalising our sound-recording setup so our apologies if Dan is a little quiet on the recording vs. Paul.

Let us know what you think of Episode 1! In fact, if you are using the Anchor App (iOS / Android) to listen to the podcast (we recommend it) you can leave us a voice message about it:

Whilst you listen, here's a few more shots to absorb from Dan's epic performance on the big island:

And here's Paul's video analysis of Dan's stroke again:

Swim Smooth!

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