Wow - The Swim Smooth Blog Is 10 Years Old!

Yes, time has flown but the Swim Smooth blog (Feel For The Water) is 10 years old this week! Way back on July 15th 2009 we launched the blog and posted for the first time and have carried on doing so religiously every Friday ever since, bringing you Swim Smooth's very best hints, tips and advice to improve your swimming direct to your inbox.

We hope you've enjoyed being a subscriber - the blog readership has steadily built until it's become the biggest swimming blog in the world with over 120,000 subscribers!

To celebrate this anniversary we've picked out some of our favourite posts from the last 10 years to look back on. As you can imagine, choosing from over 520 is very hard indeed but our chosen ones are those that we find have "stood the test of time". Over the years each continues to resonate with swimmers and we keep referring back and pointing swimmers to them time and time again.

Some here's a trip back down memory lane (in no particular order) :

January 2014: Like Mixing Hot And Cold Water In The Bath
This post presents a super-simple concept that is so effective for newer swimmers. Make sure you read this if you're a newer swimmer working on the basics of the stroke:

April 2015: But What If You Can't Swim Freestyle Continuously?
We get an email like this every week - I get a should be doing this with my arm and this with my legs but what if I can only do it for one length before having to rest?? This must-read post has our full answer on overcoming the continuous freestyle challenge:

May 2014: Mega Megan, Going From 2:12 to 1:32 / 100m
The ultimate case study into Swim Smooth's coaching is the progress made by the amazing "Mega" Megan. SS Head Coach Paul Newsome spills the beans on her amazing swimming journey, what can you learn and apply yourself?:

May 2013: The Gradual Crescendo
What's the most common mistake people make when they swim? Holding their breath? Crossing in front of the head? Actually we think it's probably poor pacing. See what Alistair Brownlee can teach us on the subject:

June 2010: Why A Good Catch Is So Elusive - Wrong Can Feel Right
The hardest part of the stroke to develop is the catch and pull, here's a big reason why it's so elusive for so many swimmers:

August 2012: Bend It Like Becky
One of our most famous and most read posts on developing your catch and feel for the water. The great Rebecca Adlington shows us how it's done:

March 2012: Overgliding Inefficiency And The Overgliderometer
Way back in 2011 we coined the phrase Overglider to encapsulate the sort of swimmer who's deliberating trying to pause and glide at the front of their stroke. Been down this route yourself with your own swimming or want to understand why it's such a massive mistake for a swimmer to make? :

September 2011: A Simple Stretch To Reduce Drag
Sometimes the simplest posts are the best. Here's a simple stretch that's hugely beneficial for any swimmer with low-lying legs:

February 2013: The Four Classic Causes Of Shoulder Pain
Most swimmers experience some level of shoulder pain or injury in their swimming lives. Do you? Even if you don't you need to read this to avoid problems further down the line:

April 2014: CSS Training For Absolute Beginners
Heard of CSS training but need to understand what it is? This highly popular post explains everything you need to know to get started and see your times coming down:

February 2014: Should You Be Using A Two Beat Kick?
Another super-common question we get asked by swimmers time and time again. Flutter (6 beat) or switch (2 beat) ? The answer might surprise you:

April 2014: The Great Bilateral Breathing Controversy
Our most commented, re-posted and discussed blog. Bilateral breathing remains such a controversial subject in swimming, here's our definitive post on the subject:

November 2011: Fingers Together Or Apart?
One of our personal favourites and another common question from swimmers - should you try and swim with your fingers slightly apart as many have been told?

June 2013: Paul Newsome's Winning Manhattan Race Report: "Stroke-Stroke-Breathe" Cut & Paste x 12,000
Inspiring race/event reports always make for great blog posts. Paul's raced at a very high level in the name of Swim Smooth over the years but here's perhaps his greatest achievement. The behind the scenes story of his 2013 46km (!) Manhattan Island Marathon Swim win:

A big thanks from everyone at Swim Smooth for following the blog every week. So what do the next 10 years have in store for us? Well you'll be pleased to know we've been very busy working on a next generation swimming product that will help us deliver the magic of the Swim Smooth system to you much more effectively.

We'll tell you more in the autumn but for now... Swim Smooth!

Hannah - A "Normal" Swimmer With 813,703 Views On YouTube

If you are quite new to swimming it can be a bit intimidating watching elite swimmers on YouTube. How can you relate to someone who's super tall, super strong, super flexible and was born with a set of gills? Sometimes it seems pointless watching someone like that when they're such a league apart from your own swimming?

With that in mind, almost exactly 9 years ago to the day, we released the following video of Hannah swimming on Youtube. Hannah's doesn't have an elite swimming background but has got a nice (but not perfect) stroke that is well worth studying. If you haven't seen this clip before then take a watch and see what you can learn:

In terms of Swim Type, Hannah very much started life as a Bambino but has developed her swimming over time under SS Head Coach Paul Newsome's guidance in Perth. In the years after filming this clip she went on to swim the 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim and the 22km Cook Strait! Amazing achievements for someone with very little swimming experience.

Obviously developing her stroke technique and swim fitness (you need a lot of fitness to swim 20km through rough waters!) is absolutely key to her achievements. But it's also worth nothing how much fun Hannah has in the water whenever she swims (clearly visible at the beginning and end of the footage).

Don't neglect this side of your swimming. Being in the water should bring a sense of joy, a release from the pressures of daily life. That positive attitude brings the consistency to your swim training which is absolutely key to improving.

Want to swim like Hannah? You too need one of our hand picked, super-friendly, highly experienced and extensively trained Swim Smooth Coaches. Find your nearest coach here:

OK Han, can you swim for the camera now please?

Swim Smooth!

Addicted To Your Pull Buoy? OK Let's Strike You A Deal

Yeah we hear from guys like you all the time: I'm much faster with a pull buoy and I find myself reaching for it all the time. Is this a problem? I hate swimming without it and I'll be racing in my wetsuit which also brings my legs up.
Do you never go to the pool without it?

To which we reply: Yes you should ween yourself off it because it's just masking a poor body position. To get your legs up you need to develop your leg kick technique and you can't do that while using a pull-buoy. Also, swimming with it is so much easier you can de-condition aerobically.

But we know that many of you ignore that advice and continue to reach for your pull buoy whenever things get challenging. If that's you, let's strike a deal with you:

Here's the new rule:

Whenever you swim with your pull-buoy you have to breathe bilaterally (either every 3, 5 or 7 strokes).

Given the type of swimmers who are addicted to pull-buoys, it's unlikely you would breathe bilaterally out of choice. But the pull buoy makes bilateral easier for any swimmer, so that's the compromise we'll make with you.

Bilateral is good for your swimming because:

- It helps you develop even body rotation to both sides.
- It helps you develop your catch because you are only breathing 1 in 3 strokes on each arm.
- It reduces the likelihood of a crossover in front of your head, particularly when breathing.
- It reduces the likelihood of a scissor kick developing.
- It helps you develop a better exhalation technique underwater.
- You will swim straighter in open water.

More on why bilateral is so beneficial here:

So if you find yourself reaching for that pull-buoy when the going gets tough, tell yourself "OK foam friend, bilateral it is". That's the deal.

Some further thoughts:

- A pull buoy makes bilateral easier but so does a wetsuit (even more so in fact) so make sure you breathe bilaterally in open water too.

- Is you get used to it with the pull buoy, introduce bilateral in your normal (non-pull buoy) swimming too, the more you can do this the better.

- Keep trying to ween yourself off the pull-buoy for all the reasons we mentioned above. As your swimming improves, swimming without it will get progressively easier.

- Consider using buoyancy shorts as an alternative to swimming with a pull-buoy. They are a little harder to put on and take off but buoyancy shorts allow you to swim with your full stroke, develop your leg kick and keep aerobic condition in your kicking muscles. We discussed this previously here:

Swim Smooth!

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