How To Teach Children To Swim Smoothly - We Need Your Support!

Swim Smooth Coach Gabriela Minarikova is Swim Smooth's specialist in kids coaching and has written a unique book How To Teach Children To Swim Smoothly.

Whilst currently only available in the Czech language, this is a richly illustrated book with rhymes and easy-to-understand descriptions of how every child can learn to swim fast, well, playfully and with enthusiasm. The book works as a practical guide for parents who want to teach their child to swim on their own.

This brilliant work is shortly to be translated into English, the only issue is that she needs your support to do that and to get in into print. Gabi is based in Prague and has been working on converting all of Swim Smooth's brilliant coaching methods from adult coaching to make them perfect for kids development in all four strokes.

Find out more about this exciting project here:

Also please support Gabi on her crowd funding page (in Czech but soon to be available in English):

Over to Gabi:

How did it begin?

My daughter is to blame for everything and my desire to indulge her in the best, lead her to swim, teach her to love water and move in the water smoothly - as naturally as sea creatures! I teach her through play, which is very effective and quite different from how most adults learn through drills.

I started writing a swimming instruction methodology for my swim school which I founded in 2013. Now our methodology of swimming with Plavel and Plavlína is ready and it wins the hearts of swimmers. Hundreds of children have already successfully passed our courses, and we have helped those whose parents thought they would never learn to swim. Every day we huge changes in the children on our courses but unfortunately we also see parents trying to teach their children to swim on their own. In general they struggle to do that - it would be much better if they knew how to do it and respected a few simple principles. And that is what this book is all about.

What is our goal?

We know that with this book we make children's swimming better, it will help many parents, as well as fellow teachers and coaches, and especially children who struggle in the water, do not enjoy it or are even afraid of it. I know that all children can be water lovers and swimming champions. I really wish that as many children as possible could learn to swim in this friendly, respectful and very effective way. Unfortunately with many of the covid restrictions around the world so many swim schools are shut and lessons are impossible unless they are "self-taught".


The book show you step by step methods, progressing from easy to hard. Playfully and with the help of two little heroes Plavl and Plavlína, who love water so much that they are named after it. With stories, rhymes, pictures and captions that everyone can understand. This is modern learn to swim, so that the child does not even know they are learning. Your child's progress will be smooth and effective.

Impatience is a big pitfall for inexperienced parents and swimming teachers. Rushing your child to swimming a common mistake - patience is required to make your child an excellent swimmer.

Really everyone 😊needs the eight basic rules. To learn to love water, to live with it perfectly, to be a friend of it who can get in and out safely. Breathe properly in the water, move in all directions, lie on it and let yourself float. Jump, dive, orient yourself below the surface, stroke the water and have the feeling to grab it. Only then start with the first swimming stroke... and much more.

Believe me I know, I nearly drowned once when I was 4 years old. Fortunately, everything turned out well and water is an inseparable friend for me now.

Who are we?

I'm mainly a mum but I'm also a first class swimming coach, a first class medical swimming instructor, a certified Swim Smooth coach, the founder of the swimming school of the same name and the section where I work as chairwoman and head coach. I am still an active swimmer and athlete. I participated in the Czech Swimming Championships in the student category and the World Championships in the Masters category. I love water, I love training and I love working with children. I like to do everything meaningfully and most importantly do the best I can! :)

Why are we doing this?

Supporting this book as a parent gives you the guide you need to develop your child's swimming and I really thank you very much for your contribution. We have already tried to publish the book through reputable publishers but unfortunately we have encountered such unacceptable requirements that we have decided to go the route of our own publication and ask you for a contribution to the direct costs associated with the publication. We do not include the author's fee.


What Goes Through Your Head In Those 30 Seconds Before You Commence Your Swim?

 What goes through your head in those 30 seconds before you commence your swim, be it in the #swimmingpool or #openwater?

Is if fear? Fear about what? How you’ll feel? How you’ll perform? Whether it’s too cold? What’s swimming around you?

Or is it excitement? A crazy craving to get in and smash out a new PB? Maybe just to feel the exhilaration of being in the water? The opportunity and potential to get away from it all for a while?

Or is it concern? Worries that you should be doing something else? Maybe you should really be at work? Or with the kids? Whether you left the oven on?

Whatever goes through your head in those final 30 seconds just know that you’re about to experience the unique weightlessness and escapism that only swimming truly offers. Lean into that feeling. Go with the flow. Have purpose but also be flexible to new possibilities or to try a new drill for a change. Enjoy, but don’t force it. And remember in those first 30 seconds to just “bubble-bubble-breathe” and before you know it, whatever trepidation you may have felt in the 30 seconds before you hit the go switch and make your move, will soon be a distant memory anyway!

Swim Smooth!


The Ticking Time Bomb

As you’re probably aware if you’ve been following Swim Smooth for a while now, a key piece of gadgetry for many of our sessions over the last 10 or so years, is the humble Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. 

This little device was originally designed to allow you to manipulate your stroke rate with a regular audio beep to remind you when each hand should enter the water. You could increase or decrease your natural stroke rate depending on what you were trying to achieve with your technique. Despite many misconceptions in the early days with the original version (and its competitor, the Perth-based “Wetronome”) as being “only for the PROs”, we’ve found it to be brilliantly effective with all levels of swimmer, especially those learning to develop better rhythm and timing in their stroke as it helps to remove a lot of the “over thinking” commonly attributed to developing your stroke. 

Over the years we’ve posted a lot on various ways of how to use the Tempo Trainer Pro (this post being particularly popular: ) and within the new Swim Smooth platform, once you’ve inputted your CSS pace, for any of the 1,000+ training sessions you can elect to choose from (or even follow a bespoke training plan for your next event), you’ll be shown exactly what setting to use and what pace, cycle time or stroke rate to input based on your own metrics. This is something our Swim Smooth Coaches can seemingly do for their Squad swimmers blindfolded, but if you’re training by yourself, a little bit of a nudge in the right direction is always useful!

This week here in Perth our swimmers tackled another version of the infamous 5km Red Mist session in the pouring rain. To add a little gamification to the set, we used a method which we affectionately refer to as a “ticking time bomb”. 

Essentially this is similar to a Red Mist Cycle whereby you have to beat the beeper’s cycle time to achieve some rest (“swimming for your rest” as the Squad like to call it), but with the beeper set to an extended cycle time for a distance of greater than the usual 50m cycle. You work to gain distance and time ahead of the beeper, never quite sure when it’s next going to go off!

For example, if you swam at your CSS pace of 1:40/100m, you’d cover each 50m in 50 seconds, so a Red Mist Cycle of RM5 (50+5 = 55 seconds in this case) would imply that you’d get 5 seconds ahead of the beeper for every 50m you covered. You can elect to swim quicker and get more rest, or most likely in a tough set like the Red Mist session, you’ll be cautiously swimming quick enough to get some rest, but not so quick that you risk blowing up. Sometimes that margin is as fine as just 1 or 2 seconds per 100m!

With our Wednesday session we had a block in Part 1 totalling 1800m which was broken down into 6 x 150m at the equivalent of RM6, 6 x 100m at the equivalent of RM4 and 6 x 50m on RM3. Rather than setting the beeper at the 50m Red Mist Cycle though, in the 150m intervals, the beeper was set at a cycle time that would be the equivalent of RM6 over the whole 150m, meaning the swimmers only heard the beeper at the start of each interval and were tactically swimming at a speed quick enough to beat this “ticking time bomb”, but not so quick that they couldn’t complete the set. It provided a really fun and engaging challenge that is different to using the pool clock as a send off as you can be more accurate and specific to your send off time as well as the nervous excitement of waiting to hear that beep go off! 

Taking our earlier example for that first set of 6 x 150m, this would be 50+6 = 56 seconds, multiply this by 3 (for the 150m distance) and you get 2 minutes and 48 seconds to complete each swim before you need to be ready to set off for the next one. Working out the mental arithmetic for that on the pool clock when you’re under duress would be very difficult, but with the beeper set, it’s easy to focus on your swimming and just wait to hear the beep. 

For the 100m intervals on an equivalent of RM4, this swimmer would need to set their Tempo Trainer in Mode 2 to 1m48s and for the 50m intervals on RM3 down to 53 seconds. All these times include the swim and rest time, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “send off” times. 

If you’re back into the pool and only able to swim a short session due to COVID restrictions, Part 1 could be an excellent bang-for-your-buck session all in its own right! Give it a go and let us know how you get on - better still, swim it using your Apple Watch or Garmin device and get some feedback on how well you actually paced yourself using our Execution Score within the new Swim Smooth platform. 



The Virtuous Feeling of an Early Morning Swim, or the Comfort of Your Covers - the Choice is Always Yours!

Here in Perth, we are starting to go into our colder winter months, and this morning saw one of the first spiralling mists off the gorgeous Claremont Pool. This is an experience our swimmers here are lucky to have in the current pandemic, but today was made all the more special as we’ve just come out of another mini lockdown ourselves. The fact is though, that rather than the winter being a time for Squad numbers to drop off, we actually see the exact opposite - people are actually excited to experience swimming in that environment which tests your mental resolve for rolling out of bed at 5am. In return, you get the benefit of that wonderful sense of feeling supremely virtuous knowing that you got up and did that little thing you loved, when others remained under the comfort of their covers. Well done.

The great British middle distance runner turned politician, Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe CH, KBE, Hon FRIBA (or simply Seb Coe to most people who remember him more for his amazing running prowess!), famously stated that he always made a point of going for a run on Christmas Day knowing that none of his competition would have the drive to do so. Coe believed this would give him the edge. History showed that whatever he did seemed to work, for him.

But what if you’re not chasing Olympic medals and world records? What if you’re just chasing the goal of staying fit and healthy and denying the hands of time their incessant reach to pull you down and leave you resigned to the couch? Take a leaf from 86 year old Barrie Eves, a stalwart of the Swim Smooth Perth Squad. Barrie swims with us every day (sometimes up to an impressive 5km!) and the only thing that he ensures as part of his “pièce de résistance” against old age and slowing down is to “never stop”. Barrie turns up come rain or shine, gets the job done and lives his life in the most virtuous and happy of manners as a result. Something I think we can all learn from. 


Swim Smooth!


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