Special Offer - Get A Free SS Cap With Every Swim Smooth Beach Towel!

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere so make sure you're looking your smoothest with our Swim Smooth branded beach towel available in our swim shop:

Royal blue and 100% woven cotton, it's the perfect size to take to the pool, beach or lay out proudly in transition.

Until Friday 5th July you receive a free Swim Smooth Cap of your choice with every towel ordered!

Just add one of each to the cart and you'll see the promotion automatically applied:

Order now, only while stocks last!

Why Not Choose One Of Our Unique Reversible “Mood” Caps?

Choose one of our conventional swim caps with your beach towel, or select our brand new invention - the reversible "mood" cap!

This is a unique cap that can be worn inside or out depending on how you feel.

Feeling good and ready to lead your lane? Wear the blue side out to: "Get your Game Face On!"

A little fatigued or saving yourself for another session? Wear the orange side out, after all: "A Race Day. Every Day. Is Not!"

Developed for our squad swimmers in Perth to let Head Coach Paul Newsome know how they're feeling and now available to you wherever you are in the world!

Buy yours here: shop.swimsmooth.com/products/swim-smooth-silicon-swim-cap

Swim Smooth!

Swim *Smooth* - What's In A Name?

At the very core of Swim Smooth's coaching lies two fundamental tenets:

- There's no universal best stroke style that everyone should swim with.

- To reach your potential in the water, you need an individual approach that takes into account what works for you personally.

There's no better example of this philosophy in action than Swim Smooth's recognition that there are two classic stroke styles (not one) used by elite swimmers - the "Swinger" and the "Smooth".

However, this potentially brings us to a position of slight conflict... Does the name Swim Smooth suggest that you should exclusively aim to swim with the Smooth stroke style? We hope not but agree it could be confusing at first sight.

Let's clarify!

A great "Smooth", such as Jono Van Hazel certainly looks pleasing on the eye:

(click video to see full clip)

Looking past the aesthetics, notice the strong sense of rhythm in his stroke, something that is absolutely key to moving him through the water effectively.

Now take a look at a classic Swinger stroke - performed here by SS Coach Anna-Karin Lundin:

(click video to see full clip)

Anna-Karin's a phenomenal swimmer who went to the 1988 Olympic Games. Despite being a Swinger and using that straighter arm recovery style combined with a shorter stroke and a faster turnover, all her movements are still inherently *smooth*.

This fluid, continuous (and yes smooth) movement is deep at the core of how all great swimmers progress through the water - whether of the Swinger or Smooth type. We see no conflict - look past the aesthetics and both styles have inherent smoothness when performed well.

So can you "Swing Smooth"? - yes absolutely you can! When performed well the Swinger style has just as much fluidity and smoothness as the Smooth type - even though it might not be the first thing that immediately strikes you about the stroke.

Swim Smooth!

What Should You Think About During Your Big Race?

Trust in your plan to settle your pre-race nerves
It's the middle of June and if you are living in the northern hemisphere then you're likely to be building up to your key race of the season sometime in the coming weeks.

You've been preparing diligently, working on your stroke technique, you swim fitness and open water skills. But come race day and the gun going off, what should you actually think about whilst you swim to perform at your very best?

We suggest you make a (very) short list of one, two or three things to rotate through in your mind during the race. Pre-plan this list and you can be confident going to the start line about what you are going to do and think. Don't choose more than three!

Remember to only think about one thing at a time - if you have several items on your list then rotate through them in turn, spending about 10 seconds on each for the duration of the event.

Here's some ideas you might want to choose from and why each might be right for you :

- Breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe... Most people are nervous at the start of any race (and particularly an open water swim) so what's the first thing they instinctively do? Hold their breath! Holding your breath builds up excess CO2 in your system which can easily lead to a panic attack. Make sure you exhale smoothly and continuously into the water from the very start of the race and combine it with bilateral breathing timing using Swim Smooth's most famous mantra: Breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe.

- Straight-bubble-bubble-straight. A variation of breathe-bubble-bubble-breathe but instead of thinking "breathe" when breathing, think "straight" to keep focus on what that lead arm is doing as it enters and extends forwards underwater. Choose this if you know you have a crossover in your stroke when your breathe. The mantra will help reduce the crossover and in turn help you swim straighter.

A "crossover" is where the lead arm crosses the centre line in front of the head

- Tap Your Big Toes. This is perfect for anyone with a scissor kick or any issue with their kicking technique. As you swim brush your big toes lightly as they pass each other - make sure this is a continuous and regular tap-tap-tap-tap. Any gap in the taps (especially when you breathe) indicates a scissor kick!

A scissor kick is like opening a parachute behind you!
It most commonly happens when you breathe.

- Am I going too fast? Nearly everyone starts their race too fast and then slows down progressively through the race losing more time overall than they ever gained at the start. Especially in the first half of the swim, continuously ask yourself if you are going too fast and if you can realistically sustain this pace. If you missed it first time around, check out our classic The Gradual Crescendo blog post on this subject.

- Think: Rhythm, Range, Relax... Rhythm, Range, Relax... This is a nice mantra for stronger swimmers who may feel a little frantic at the start of a race, or when encountering choppy conditions which are throwing them off their game. Rhythm is absolutely key to great open water swimming. Keep the Range in your stroke from extension out front to finishing at the thigh. And stay Relaxed even when working hard.

Remember less is more when picking your list. Choose the items that will make the biggest difference to you and remember the golden rule: only ever think about one thing at a time.

Have an awesome race!

Swim Smooth!

Let's Get Real - You're Not Ian Thorpe

If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you'll know that the great Ian Thorpe is one of our favourite swimmers.

The Pride of Australia: The great Ian Thorpe
winning the 200m freestyle at the Athens Olympics
Here's a fascinating quote from Thorpie's autobiography This Is Me, where he talks about counting his strokes in a 50m pool:

I also aim to reduce the stroke count (during technique sessions). I've got it down to 24 per lap which is about as low as I want it to get. I could reduce it by another four strokes but the danger is that I'd get to the point where I'm gliding rather than swimming efficiently.

Ian's talking about deliberately taking fewer strokes per length during a technique set but simultaneously warning us about the dangers of gliding.

But here's the really interesting point: When racing, Ian actually took 30-32 strokes per 50m. From the quote above we know that's a full 10-12 strokes more than he could do if he wanted to. Here he is winning the 200m at the Athens Olympics (wearing the black suit):

So whilst Thorpie has an exceptionally long smooth stroke, it isn't anywhere near as long as he could make it if he wanted to. The right stroke length for him is a full 10-12 strokes more than his minimum!

From the underwater view you get a real impression of the power and positivity he's putting into his stroke:

If you have been watching swimmers like Thorpe and thinking that the secret to better swimming is to make your stroke as long as possible then sit up and take notice. Just like Ian, your optimal point of swimming when you are at your fastest and most effective is not your minimum stroke count, it's a place a little shorter when you have strong rhythm and purpose to your stroke.

One Secret Is The Kick - The Fins Test

Try swimming 50m normally and count your strokes. Now don a large pair of fins and swim 50m again. How many fewer strokes did you take? You'll be anywhere from 3 to 12 fewer!

Did you know that Ian could kick 100m (with a kickboard) in under 70 seconds? That's almost certainly faster than you could whilst wearing those large fins. Try it if you like!

So one of the reasons Ian's got such a long stroke is that his kick is super-powerful, way stronger than 99% of age group swimmers, even if they are wearing fins. Having size 17 feet makes buying shoes difficult but is epic when it comes to swimming!

But it's not just his kick of course... Are you 1.95m (6'5") tall? Do you have super long arms? Hands like paddles? Do you have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast to stretch into extreme positions? Do you swim 12 times per week?

Only if you can answer yes to all those questions (and you can kick 100m without fins in 70 seconds) should you reasonably expect to match Thorpie and take 30-32 strokes per 50m.

Of course, the further you are away from having Ian Thorpe like attributes, the shorter your optimum stroke is going to be. That doesn't mean you can't swim very well yourself - far from it - but you need to swim at the optimal stroke length for yourself, which like Ian is significantly shorter than your minimum stroke count.

Swim Smooth!

Subscribe to Feel For The Water
And receive the amazing Mr Smooth animation as your optional free gift.
Find out more: here

* required
I consent to receiving tips to improve my swimming and occasional information about our products and services from Swim Smooth. You can unsubscribe at any time. See our Privacy Policy
Powered by Blogger.


Blog Archive

Recent Posts