More Visualisation = A Better Stroke

Paul Newsome - Swim Smooth Head Coach:

"When I started training for the Lake Windermere swim this year, I was only able to swim 5-6 hours a week. After a few weeks I was surprised to see that I was making similar improvements in my training to people in the squad who were training 8-10 hours per week. I realised that simply being on the pool deck thinking about swimming and constantly demonstrating good stroke technique was giving me much needed visualisation time and turned out to be equally beneficial for my training as spending time in the water."

Studies show that visualising a movement activates the same areas of the brain as actually performing that movement. This means that taking the time to visualise a perfect swim stroke really does assist in developing great technique. In swimming, where stroke technique is so important to improve your efficiency and speed in the water, more visualisation could be the answer!

Here's the thing: In a training session it is easy to lose focus during long sessions, which could mean you only end up thinking about your technique for about a quarter of that time. If you normally swim 2-4 hours per week, that means you might only have 30-60 minutes a week of active visualisation.

How can we boost that? We suggest setting aside 3x 10 minutes a week to visualise great stroke technique, which will boost your visualisation time without having to spend more hours in the water. Making this small addition to your weekly routine will have a positive impact on your stroke technique when you do return to the water.

At Swim Smooth we have a wealth of resources available to you to assist with "land based visualisation" - it is very much at the core of our swim program. Use them regularly to develop your swimming:

Our Animated Stroke Visualisations

This is the perfect visualisation tool. You can view Mr Smooth's stroke from pretty much any angle to focus in on the parts of your stroke that need the most work. If you don't have it already, download it onto your computer or iPhone totally for free:

And for just US$2.99 / GB£2.99 you can also purchase the PRO version which includes Miss Swinger demonstrating the Swinger stroke style:


Elite Swimmer Visualisations

Swim Smooth's library of elite swimmer visualisations is unique and extensive. Some of these can be found on Youtube and many more in the Swim Smooth Guru (Standard level subscription required).

Here's a selection of five of our favourites:

The phenomenal olympic swimmer Jono Van Hazel - the basis for the Mr Smooth animation and perhaps the smoothest swimmer in the world? Watch out for his beautifully timed symmetrical stroke:

Triathlon World Champion Jodie Swallow, all rhythm and power:

Double Olympic Gold Medallist Rebecca Adlington - simply poetry in motion:

Six time world marathon swimming champion Shelley Taylor Smith demonstrating a phenomenal catch and beautiful two-beat kick:

Triathlon World Champion Tim Don, another fantastically rhythmical stroke full of purpose and agility :

Paul Newsome's voiceover on these videos makes sure that you are focussing on the right things when watching each clip.

Rebecca Adlington in the Swim Smooth Guru

Whilst we are unable to actually be in the pool at the moment, let's harness the power of visualisation to make improvements in our stroke technique.

Swim Smooth!

BRAND NEW Dry-land Stretch Cord Sequence On The Swim Smooth Guru!

During the current global situation we need to be creative and adapt the service that we offer to better suit your current situation. Many of our Swim Smooth coaches around the world are experimenting with different ways to deliver squad sessions and catch up with their members away from the pool deck. These include coffee mornings, happy hours and dryland training sessions - all virtual of course!

Jana Oosthuizen - Swim Smooth Johannesburg

Our Swim Smooth Johannesburg coach Jana Oosthuizen has developed a Dry-land Stretch Cords Sequence for the Swim Smooth Guru to develop shoulder strength and stabilisation whilst you are out of the water. There are 54 exercises in total split into 8 sections, each section has a 5-8 minute video to accompany it.

Not only do these exercises build strength but they will improve the stability and mobility of your shoulders which will in turn improve your stroke technique. They will keep your swimming muscles and nervous system nicely activated and ready for use on your return to the pool.

Click here to get started with these exercises (Guru subscription required).

The Cheat Sheet for Dry-land Stretch Cords Sequence

Here's some of the feedback that Jana's received on the sessions from her own squad swimmers:

“These dryland exercises are great in identifying where the weakness in certain muscles are. Mine is definitely external rotation. With the dryland cords one can really concentrate on the positioning of the hands, arms and shoulders which isn’t also easy to do in a pool.” - Lewellyn

“So who would have thought swimming with no pool is possible ...ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE...
We have soooo enjoyed our squad training outside the pool ... it's tested our muscles ... joined our squad together in isolation and above all made us hungry to swim ... LOVED the muscle burn.” - Candy

“Jana’s land-based sessions came at a time when pools were closing in SA, and they quickly and effectively filled the space this created. The sessions are dynamic, challenging, and your muscles remind you for at least two days after. Swimming muscles all beings thoroughly worked as is evident when one goes into the pool for one of her stationary swim sets. The program is quick, and varied, so keeps it interesting, and improvements are noticed weekly which keeps it motivating. Brilliant work Jana!” - Thomas

Jana's swimmers completing the Doggy Paddle drill using the stretch-cords...

... and giving the session marks out of 10 afterwards!

As well as being a Swim Smooth Coach, Jana is a fully qualified physiotherapist in South Africa. She obtained her Physiotherapy degree, Cum Laude, from the University of Pretoria in 2009 and completed her Orthopaedic Manipulation Therapy (OMT) 1 Certificate during 2011. She qualified as a Certified Swim Smooth Coach in July 2017 and is super passionate about swimming and helping people of all abilities swim better.

When all the pools in South Africa closed, Jana wanted to develop a Swimming Specific Dryland Cord Exercise Program for not only her squad swimmers but also our Swim Smooth Guru Users. It has been an absolute pleasure for Jana to design this programme, knowing that all the Swim Smooth squads & fans around the world will benefit from her exercises!

Check out the full program in the Guru here:

Swim Smooth! 

Only The Bores Get Bored!

In February, we welcomed six coaches from around the world to our mothership pool in Perth for their Swim Smooth coach certification course. The coaches were put through their paces and emerged from the two weeks with all of Paul's tips and tricks to take back to their own squads:

A Talented Bunch: Swim Smooth Coaches Certification Class of 2020
Penny Mullan from Vancouver Island was one of the amazing coaches who attended this year's course. Penny's dedication and hard work before, during and after the course has meant that in only two months since the course, she is close to receiving her full Swim Smooth certification. Once certified, Penny will be joining Bart Rolet (Montreal) and Mary Jessey (Calgary) to become our 3rd coach in Canada.

As one of her coaching challenges, Penny was given the task of writing a blog post for Feel For The Water and we wanted to share this with you as we feel that her chosen title and topic is very apt considering everything that is going on at the moment. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did.

So let's hand over to Penny:

Only The Bores Get Bored!

This was my grandmothers response whenever I said to her “Flossy, I’m bored”.

As with most impactful moments, this comment resurfaces as I moved through my life. Every time I start to feel a little bored with my swimming my grandmother’s words chime in my head. Am I really such a bore when I don’t feel like swimming 3000m in a 25m pool (back and forth, back and forth)?

Well perhaps, but being a ‘bore’, if handled right, can unleash many new insights and possibilities.

What I have discovered is that boredom really is an exciting time. If you really lean into it, it can become an opportunity. You can take a risk and make a change, or you can change your attitude. I never like when people suggest I just change my attitude because if it was that easy boredom would never actually be a THING. So, I choose to take a risk and change.

Everyone will approach boredom/burnout differently as we are unique in our personalities and our approach to challenges. Whether you have an analytical type mind and get really excited about numbers and graphs and projections, or you are more of the type who like to go with the flow and get distracted easily, we can all hit that wall of lane swimming blah, or in the case of open water swimming, that feeling of ‘on the road to nowhere’.

How do we move past this? How do we inject some renewed excitement into our swimming?

We can try one or two of the following suggestions:

- Pick a challenge event/race to train for

- Just train for fun

- Add technical focus

- Remove technical focus

- Change scenery

- Join a swim group/swim with a friend

- Get a new swim suit

- Get some new gadgets

- Don’t use your gadgets

As you can see what moves one person into a new and exciting realm will be different from person to person. What is common, however, is change. Change is a beautiful thing and can unleash so much more than we could ever imagine from our steady state or ‘comfort zone’. We don’t grow by keeping things safe, we grow by meeting our challenges.

Change can also be scary and unsettling. It means getting out of your comfort zone, stepping into something that is not familiar or perhaps something you may even fail at. It can take you into a place of unknown that you just don’t have the control that you are used to. Getting past this fear and seeing the opportunities on the other side can open you up to improving on your swim goals and adapting in ways you may not have considered.

Change can create a platform for positive and creative thinking (i.e. how can I do this set differently so it doesn’t feel so mundane?) Mix up your pattern and don’t be afraid to take that side route from your intended path. Even if you are focusing on a particular event, or time achievement, veering off your path once in a while doesn’t have to be harmful to training goals. In fact it can add perspective, which is something that so often gets lost when we are tunnel vision focused.

How we respond to boredom is our choice. When boredom speaks to you pay attention and observe (what do you feel, what are you thinking, what needs to change). Embracing this very real part of swim training can help you to move past it. The discoveries on the other side of boredom are the gifts of a renewed enthusiasm.

If all of this is just more than you feel like thinking about, here are a few photos that will remind you of why swimming is so fabulous:

Penny Mullan - Swim Smooth Coach In Training

Swim Smooth!

Suffering From Swimming Withdrawal Symptoms? Swim Smooth Has You Covered!

For many of you swimming enthusiasts across the world, not being able to access your local swimming pools and leisure centres is a real dilemma. As fellow lovers of swimming, at Swim Smooth we also feel your pain and are experiencing a multitude of withdrawal symptoms!

We've been working hard with our Certified Coaches to offer you an array of free resources and content to make sure you are getting your swimming fix. They're a talented bunch and have a lot to share with you!

Here's four things we have for you now (and coming in the pipeline) to keep your head in the swimming game:

1.  Workout Of The Day in our Swim Smooth Guru

Paul has been working hard to put together a series of land-based workout videos that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. They will work on different aspects of your stroke technique to keep you swim fit until you are able to return to the pool. These can located from on the dashboard of the Swim Smooth Guru (see image below). We'd love to see pictures of your guys doing these workouts, so be sure to put them on Instagram and Facebook and tag us in them!

2. Online Video Analysis

To make sure you are still focussing on your technique during your time out of the pool, we are now offering our world-renowned 1-2-1 video analysis online. To kickstart this service, we have an amazing introductory offer of 50% off the original price, so head here to make sure you don't miss out!

If you can still swim and take some new footage that's great but if not you might have some existing video stored on your phone or camera to send us. Ideally this would be above and below the water but our coaches can often provide a lot of assistance from above the water only.

Our 1-2-1 Video Analysis now available online!

3. Team Swim Smooth YouTube Account

Our Certified Coaches have been hard at work producing video content and sessions for you to complete at home. You can easily find all of these at home sessions on our BRAND NEW YouTube channel: TEAM SWIM SMOOTH! Be sure to subscribe to the channel to keep up to date with all the new content that is available. 

Check out our first video by Swim Smooth Coach/Pilates Instructor Anne-Marie Munk based in Hong Kong: 

4. Our Coaches Instagram Takeover Continues!

Every week we are giving you the chance to meet one of our 50 amazing Swim Smooth Certified Coaches on our Instagram stories. This week it was the legendary Anna-Karin Lundin's turn to takeover and she did a fantastic job giving us a brilliant behind the scenes look into her day on the pool deck in Gothenburg, Sweden. If you missed it, you can catch up on all the antics by following this link here or heading to the highlights on our Instagram home page:

Anna-Karin's Instagram Takeover
We hope all of these things can keep you entertained during the lockdown!

Stay safe and well,

Swim Smooth!

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