Friday, July 31, 2015

Race The Brownlee Tri On September 26th!

Swim Smooth will be at The Brownlee Tri on September 26th! Come and join us and race at the beautiful Harewood House in North Yorkshire and in the build-up take part in our exclusive Swim Smooth Training Day (see below)!

This is your chance to meet the famous Brownlee Brothers!

The Brownlee Tri offers you a choice of sprint or super-sprint courses, either as an individual or in a team. The event features a new pontoon for the swim start and finish, a fully traffic free cycle on the same roads as the Tour de France and an off-road run on the Brownlee’s training routes. What more could you want from an event?

Enter now: www.brownleetri.com


Brownlee Tri Training Day

Excited about racing the Brownlee Tri but worried about the open water swim? You need our special Swim Smooth training day at The Blue Lagoon in Womersley on August 22nd.

This fully coached session will be grouped by ability level and focuses on getting you comfortable and relaxed in the open water. We will also work on important skills such as drafting, sighting and swimming straight to allow to swim to your potential in the great outdoors. We're also including a special transition training session to shave more time from your race.

You’ll be amazed how much you can improve in a short period of time!

Available to Brownlee Tri race entrants only: www.brownleetri.com/training-days

Swim Smooth!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Race The Brownlee Triathlon On September 26th!

Swim Smooth will be at The Brownlee Tri on September 26th! Come and join us at the beautiful Harewood House in North Yorkshire and then in the build-up take part in our exclusive Swim Smooth Training Day (see below)!

This is your chance to race off against these two. Good luck!

The race offers you a choice of sprint or super-sprint courses, either as an individual or in a team. The event features a new pontoon for the swim start and finish, a fully traffic free cycle on the same roads as the Tour de France and an off-road run on the Brownlee’s training routes. What more could you want from an event?

Enter now: www.brownleetri.com


Brownlee Tri Training Day

Excited about racing the Brownlee Tri but worried about the open water swim? You need our special Swim Smooth training day at Blue Lagoon in Womersley on August 22nd.

This fully coached session focuses on getting you comfortable and relaxed in the open water before working on some important skills to swim to your potential in the great outdoors. We then perfect your transition skills too!

The sessions will be grouped into different ability levels to pitch things perfectly for you - you’ll be amazed how much you can improve in a short period of time!

Signup now: www.brownleetri.com/training-days

Swim Smooth!

Pro Triathlete Courtney Atkinson - A Very Versatile Swimmer

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

New Kings Cross London Squad Full information: here

Sherborne Swim Clinic
Full information here

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

<!--Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
A few weeks ago our Head Coach Paul Newsome was over in Sydney for the Australian Triathlon, Endurance & Cycling Expo. We're pleased to bring you a short clip from the show of Paul putting pro-triathlete Courtney Atkinson through his paces in the endless pool.

It's a fascinating session to watch because Courtney (a two time Olympian) shows us how he adapts his stroke for different conditions, using a longer smoother stroke in flat conditions but becoming slightly choppier using a much higher and straighter arm recovery in rougher conditions or close pack racing:



At Swim Smooth we call these two styles 'Smooth' and 'Swinger' and whilst the elite swimmers and triathletes of the world may not necessarily use that terminology, they very much recognise the two styles and understand instinctively when to use each.

Many elite swimmers and triathletes are able to chop and change their stroke at will like this and whilst it's a difficult skill to switch in this way, it pays dividends as they can maximise their performances in whatever conditions a race throws at them.

Some elite swimmers can even swap from a six-beat flutter kick when swimming long and smooth to a two-beat kick when upping their stroke rate in rougher conditions - now that is hard to master!

What can we take from this? Firstly, there's no one best way for everyone to swim. And secondly, we must take account of the environment in which we are swimming when developing our strokes. If you are a triathlete or swimmer racing in open water, above all else you need rhythm and purpose in your stroke if you are to be fast and efficient.

Swim Smooth!

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Problem With Swimming Principles...

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Sherborne Swim Clinic
Full information here

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

<!--Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
Just a few days ago we had an email from a swimmer saying that we should be explaining the catch as anchoring the hand on the water like a kayak blade so it doesn't slip backwards. Then think about moving the body past the stationary hand.

Occasionally we do use this analogy with a swimmer but through experience we find that for most people it leads to them searching for a feeling of locking onto the water that isn't really there. This in turn can actually harm the catch as the swimmer presses forwards or down with a straight arm searching for water pressure:




It would be wonderful if we could latch onto the water perfectly and not slip backwards during the catch and pull - every swimmer on the planet would all be a lot faster and more efficient if we could. But even elite swimmers don't, in fact they slip between 50 and 100cm on every arm stroke.

This is easy to prove: take Ian Thorpe swimming at 32 strokes in a 50m pool. After a 10m push off he has 40m left to swim in 32 strokes, giving him a length per stroke of 1.25m. However, his total reach from the front to the rear of the stroke is actually around 2m. That's a lot of slip and yet it's the fastest way for him to swim.

Ian Thorpe - the essence of long and smooth

Swimming 'principles' like the arm shouldn't slip backwards can certainly have merit but far too many people come unstuck with literal application of some of these more prominent ideas.

Other famous examples being you should take as few strokes as possible, you shouldn't splash when you swim and it's all about reducing drag. More often than not, following these principles through to the nth degree causes stroke flaws such as overgliding, the overglider kickstart and an overly slow stroke rate.

When looking for improvements a mature athlete will consider all the ideas they are applying in their preparation and whether any of those things is in fact holding them back. Could it be you need to give up a principle that you hold dear to move forwards?


A System Born From Huge Experience

Right at the heart of Swim Smooth's coaching is the fact that we look at things practically and pragmatically at all times using ideas and methods that actually work.

Of course we look at the science (we are in fact sports scientists!) but we ultimately hold true to what works for swimmers in practice. We are lucky to have worked with a huge variety of swimmers of all shapes and sizes all around the world with a vast range of aims and abilities - tens of thousands of hours in fact - far more research to call upon than any scientific study.

#work in quote about experiential learning#

Our coach Morgan Williams coined the expression Coaching The Swimmer Not The Stroke - an elegant way to sum it up.

Swim Smooth!

Is What You Hold Most Dear Holding You Back?

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Sherborne Swim Clinic
Full information here

Yorkshire Squads (Pool & OW)
Full information here

Yorkshire Video Analysis
Full information here

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

<!--Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
Here's some commonly stated swimming "principles":


- A long vessel has less drag so keep your lead hand extended and stay stretched for as long as possible

- Anchor your hand on the water and move yourself past it without slipping any water

- A high elbow recovery is more controlled and balanced

- Reducing drag is more important than increasing propulsion


Ideas and analogies like that can be very attractive, especially if you've applied one to your own swimming and benefitted from it.

Of course, any idea like that has some merit but the problem comes when we consider them to be golden rules which we must stick to at all costs.

One problem is that by watching elite swimmers we can see that each of the above is in fact flawed:


- Elite swimmers continuously move from one stroke to the next - they don't deliberately hold a stretched position.

- Elite swimmers actually slip anywhere between 50cm and 100cm on every arm stroke.

- Many elite swimmers use a straighter arm recovery, either because it simply feels more natural, it works better in a wetsuit or it helps clear disturbed open water.

- Elite swimmers tend to be big and powerful, which ultimately means they have have high propulsion and high drag versus someone small who has less drag and less propulsion.


The second problem is that by taking these ideas to the nth degree actually creates new stroke flaws:

#links to be added here#
- Putting on the brakes as you try and hold an outstretched position

- Bobbing up and down as you try to maximise hold on the water

- Twisting through the body as you reach the limits of your flexibility

- An Overglider Kickstart action as you try to restart a stalled stroke

- Over-rotation causing a loss of balance and triggering a scissor kick


When looking for improvements a mature athlete will consider everything they are applying in their preparation and whether any of those things are in fact holding them back. Could it be you need to swallow the bitter intellectual pill and give up a principle that you hold dear to move forwards?

An Alternative Approach

One of the key principles at the heart of Swim Smooth's coaching is that we look at things practically and pragmatically at all times using ideas and methods that actually work. It's a system born from tens of thousands #link# of video analysis sessions and squad coaching hours with all levels of swimmer from beginners through to elite swimmers and triathletes.

Of course we look at the science but we ultimately hold true to what actually works: 'experiential learning'. Our coach Morgan Williams coined the expression Coaching The Swimmer Not The Stroke - an elegant way to sum it up.

Swim Smooth!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How To Put On Your Wetsuit For Maximum Comfort And Speed

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
As we're about half way through the open water season in the northern hemisphere, we've been getting a lot of emails and tweets asking for tips on getting more comfortable swimming in a wetsuit.

Here's a quick run through of tips (also see our full video on wetsuit fitting here) :

Put a plastic bag over each foot and hand in turn to help them slide easily into the suit:


Work the wetsuit material up each leg into the crotch. Depending on the length of your legs versus the suit this often means leaving a gap of a few inches between the bottom of your suit and the ankle:


To give maximum shoulder mobility, work plenty of material up the arms into the shoulder area:


Again, the suit may sit a few inches off the wrist:


Now have a friend slide their hand onto the back of your shoulder and holding the middle of the zip area, work material round to the back of the suit:


We call this 'The Human Shoe-horn". You should find the zip then sits straight down your spine:


Repeat on the other side and you will find the zip easily does up without squeezing your chest or shoulders.

Then attach the velcro flaps to secure the back. Adjust the position depending on the size of your neck - you want it tight enough to stop water entering the suit at the neck but not so tight you can't breathe! :


Now fold back the wrist and ankles by a couple of inches and apply wetsuit lubricant (e.g. HUUB LUUB) to the inside of the suit and skin. This allows the suit to easily slip off in transition:


Also apply lubricant to the neck area if you are susceptible to chafing (always worse in salt water).

Lastly, when you enter the water, pull the neck open slightly and let a little water in. Yes it might be cold for a moment but the water will soon warmup and helps lubricate the neoprene against your swim for minimum friction.

You're also set for a fantastic swim!

Swim Smooth!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Announcing Six New SS Coaches in SC/NYC, Hong Kong, Dublin, Northampton, Doncaster & Oxford

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

NEW Dubai Squad and Clinics
Clinics & Video analysis here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
NewsfFull information here

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here
Swim Smooth are excited to announce that six more Swim Smooth Coaches have completed their extensive training and have just become certified certified.

Each is an expert in advanced video analysis and stroke correction and offers you a choice of squad and coached sessions, whatever your level of swimming:




Lance Ogren, Charleston / New York City: www.lanceogrencoaching.com

Lance is a US Masters Certified Level 3 Swim Coach and is currently the Head Coach of Palmetto Masters Swim Team in Mount Pleasant SC. Prior to this he was the Head Coach of the Chelsea Piers Masters Swim Team in NYC.

Lance is the first and currently only Swim Smooth Certified Coach in North America and is proud to fly the flag stateside for us!


Dominic Tsui, Hong Kong:  swimming.fastlane@gmail.com

Dominic is our new Swim Smooth coach in Hong Kong and is a great swimmer himself, competing in 4 World Masters Championships in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Dominic finds himself swimming faster the older he gets - something he credits to better Swim Smooth technique and training methods!

If you live in Hong Kong or are planning a visit, book in for a session with Dominic today.


Sinead McBreen, Dublin: www.triswimmer.ie

We're also very proud to announce our very first coach in Ireland, Sinead McBreen. Sinead offers the full complement of Swim Smooth coaching to take your swimming to the next level, specialising in technique correction via video analysis and squad training sessions.

We've always had a huge interest in Swim Smooth in Ireland and Sinead now brings our expertise to Dublin.


Annie Oberlin-Harris, Oxford / Henley, UK: www.triswimcoaching.com

Until recently Annie was part of our in-house coaching team developing our suite of coaching products but has now setup her own coaching base offering you the full range of Swim Smooth services including video analysis and stroke correction, beginner sessions, squad sessions and open water training! On-line video analysis of your stroke is also available.

Book in for a special Swim Smooth session with Annie - your swimming will never be the same again.


Gavin Prior, Northampton, UK: www.trisomi.co.uk

With a swim squad based in Northampton (for beginners and up!) providing a year-round programme of everything you would expect of a Swim Smooth certified coach - get ready to improve your swim stroke and reach your goals!

As well as face to face coaching, Gavin provides on-line swim video analysis wherever you are in the world. This can provide you with the feedback and guidance you need even if you can’t get to a 1-2-1 session.


Morgan Williams, Doncaster, UK: www.coachmorg.com

Morgan is an experienced open water swimming and triathlon coach having been at the forefront of the development of open water swimming and triathlon for over 10 years. Morgan's base in the very heart of Yorkshire is the stunning Blue Lagoon where he regularly runs open water swim squads and workshops in the summer months.

Throughout the year Morgan runs regular pool based swim squads, workshops and video analysis stroke correction sessions at numerous venues around Yorkshire.




For full information on all of our other certified coaches see:

www.swimsmooth.com/certifiedcoaches

We're sorry if we don't yet have a coach in your area. We have another talented set coming through the selection and training process right now from all around the world but this does take time - we can't rush the training process, the quality of our coaching is everything.

Swim Smooth!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Glide Is A Dirty Word

Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / Camps:

Lancaster Video
Analysis Consultations

Full information here

West Lothian
Video Analysis

Full information here

Prague International Kids Camp
Full information here

Prague Junior Swim Club Full information here

Richmond SS Squad
Full information here and here

Acton Video Analysis
Full information here

New Oxford/Henley SS Coach
Clinics & Video analysis here

Beg. & Int. OW Workshops
Berinsfield, Oxfordshire

Swim/Tri Camps Alicante
All year round: here

Richmond/Wimbledon Workshops
Full information here

Salisbury 1to1 Analysis
Full information here

Ringwood SS Squad
Full information here

Twickenham Video Analysis Full information here

Lancaster SS Squad
Full information here
This post is a re-visit of our popular (and detailed) 2012 blog post: Overgliding, Inefficiency And The Overgliderometer

Many well meaning swimmers and coaches talk about the benefit of 'gliding' through the water when swimming but have you ever thought what it actually means to glide?

A strict definition of gliding is to consider the time between one arm finishing a stroke finishing at the rear and the next commencing the catch at the front:



This 'gap between strokes' is the true 'glide time' when there is no propulsion from either arm and you are truly gliding down the pool.


Elite Glide Time

The interesting thing is that many elite swimmers look like they're gliding when they swim but what actually is their gap between strokes? The answer may surprise you. If we study footage frame by frame of greats such as Ian Thorpe, Rebecca Adlington, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Alex Popov and Sun Yang, the gap between their strokes is remarkably similar: between 0.10 and 0.20 seconds (see examples here and here).

1 to 2 tenths of a second is literally less than a blink of an eye and goes to show that although these great swimmers appear to be gliding when they swim they are actually barely doing so at all.


Your Glide Time

So what does it feel like to swim with a 'glide time' of 0.1 to 0.2 seconds? Do so and you are hardly aware of any gap between their strokes - it feels like you are stroking smoothly and continuously from one stroke to the next without any perceptible pause at the front.

If you have added a deliberate pause-and-glide into your stroke then it's likely the gap between your strokes is at least 0.4 to 0.5 seconds:

Classic Overglider: Glide time 0.45 sec, swimming speed speed 1:42 /100m
This gap is now long enough for large inefficiencies to be developing as you start to decelerate significantly and sink deeper into the water (creating additional drag) between strokes.

If you've really tried to emphasise the glide then your gap between strokes may be as long as 0.7 to 1.2 seconds  - in fact we define anything over 0.7 seconds as extreme overgliding. Now the stroke is becoming so inefficient it's unlikely you can swim more than a few lengths without feeling exhausted and having to stop for rest:

Extreme Overglider: Glide time 0.84 sec, speed 2:56 /100m

Notice has the swimmer has sunk completely beneath the surface creating huge amounts of drag and making breathing extremely challenging.


Getting Very Geeky

If (like us) you love your numbers and statistics then you might enjoy the chart we've plotted up below. This is the data from around 100 swimmers of all ability levels from beginners to Olympic champions. It includes most of the famous swimming demonstration clips on Youtube.

We plotted their swimming speed versus their glide time:


The remarkable thing about this data is the strength of the relationship. The longer the gap between strokes, the slower and less efficient the swimmer is.

Of course the real clincher for our argument against actively gliding is the circled region:

In that area would be swimmers travelling quickly and efficiently but with significant glide in their strokes. But there aren't any. None.


Glide Is A Dirty Word?

When we wrote the Swim Types website in 2010, we described 'glide as a dirty word'. Perhaps unsurprisingly we copped a bit of flack from old-school swim coaches for making that statement but perceptions in the swimming world have changed a lot over the last five years and now our argument stands largely unchallenged.

Glide is a term that has been used by well meaning swim coaches since the 1980s to encourage swimmers to lengthen out their strokes. However the reality is that when asked to glide down the pool swimmers overly lengthen their strokes by adding an intention pause-and-glide at the front.

As we have seen this deadspot is very inefficient and very hard to remove once the habit is ingrained. It also triggers other significant flaws in the stroke:

- Putting on the brakes
- The overglider kickstart

Far better that we explain to swimmers that the goal isn't to make the stroke as long as possible (elite swimmers don't). And better to avoid the word 'glide' because it too easily introduces a deliberate pause. Let's talk about 'range' or 'extension' in the stroke but not 'glide' - swimmers will be much better off for it.

Swim Smooth!

[After the original blog a few fellow swim geeks asked us why we plotted the data against glide time, not percentage of the stroke cycle. This is a more meaningful analysis because deceleration is dv/dt not dv/d-cycle.]