Friday, March 29, 2019

The BMI Chart Part 2 - A Warning If You Are The Blue Zone

Last week on the blog we looked at this chart, which is like a BMI chart for your swimming:

It assesses your swimming at any effort level, whether you are swimming easy, sprinting, or anywhere in-between.

If you are in the red zone then you will be aware that you are "over-revving" and need to slow things down slightly and lengthen out your stroke. You can use a Tempo Trainer Pro to do that in mode 3. First set it to your current stroke rate, and then progressively lower it (2 to 3 SPM at a time) until things are feeling more controlled.

BUT if you are in the blue zone you need to be a little careful. Ultimately with yourself we are looking to raise your stroke rate slightly, getting a better sense of rhythm and timing into your stroke. However, you can't just speed your arms up - if you've tried that you know it gets very hard very quickly!

The reason for this relates to why your stroke rate is too low. If you are in the blue zone then it's very likely you are "overgliding" at the front of the stroke, dropping your wrist and elbow and showing the palm of the hand slightly forwards.

Here's how that looks:

If you've been focusing on developing a long stroke (or actively trying to glide) then showing the palm forwards naturally starts to develop in your stroke. That's because pushing forwards like this allows you to pause momentarily in this position, in fact it's very hard to pause out front without doing so!

We often refer to this effect as "putting on the brakes" and it quickly becomes a habit such that you are unaware you are doing it. If you try and lift your stroke rate from here you simply push forwards on the water harder and it resists you more, hugely increasing drag and effort.

Instead, we need to first develop your catch setup so that you extend forwards into this position with the elbow higher than the wrist and the wrist higher than the fingertips:

Now you are naturally engaging with the water and ready to press it backwards, removing that pause at the front. Do this and you will find your stroke rate will naturally lift, possibly without you even realising it.

Of course, if you want to lift it a little further still you are now ready to do so with a Finis Tempo Trainer. Lift your stroke rate and you will feel a sense of real acceleration, moving through the water with rhythm and power!

Correct Your Stroke With Swim Smooth

If you are in the red zone, with a Guru Pro subscription follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:

To fix an overglide at the front of your stroke (Blue Zone) then follow the Bambino or Overglider Pro Guru processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Like A BMI Chart But For Your Swimming

At some point in your life you will have looked up where you are on a Body Mass Index chart:

A BMI chart takes your height and weight, and shows you whether you are overweight, underweight or about right. It's not completely perfect (for instance if you've been spending a long time pumping iron in the gym then you might be heavy but not actually overweight) but it's a pretty good guide.

At Swim Smooth we have a similar chart that gives you insight into your swimming. We call it the Stroke Rate Chart and it looks like this:

This has two axes, your swimming speed (time per 100m) and your stroke rate (the number of strokes per minute you take counting both arms).

The chart has three zones:

The Red Zone indicates your stroke rate is too high for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone, there's a strong likelihood you are fighting the water - a low body position, crossovers and scissor kicks are common.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:

The Blue Zone indicates your stroke rate is too low for your swimming speed. If you are in this zone it's likely you have a pause and glide in your stroke timing which is holding you back. You are also likely to be dropping the wrist and pushing forwards on the water - we call this "putting on the brakes" and it's fundamentally connected to over-gliding.

With a Pro subscription, use the Swim Smooth Guru to follow the Bambino or Overglider processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:

The White Zone is where you should be. That's not to say that your stroke is perfect but it says that your stroke rate is about where it should be and not something to be concerned with.

The width of the white zone takes account of two things:

1) Your individual height and build. Taller swimmers with long arms naturally have a longer stroke with a slightly slower turn-over.

2) Your individual stroke style. For instance if you have an effective 6 beat kick and like to use it then your stroke will be longer with a slightly slower turn-over for a given speed.

If you are in the red or blue zones, then you now have some direction to improve the effectiveness of your individual swimming.

You can find out more about the Stroke Rate Chart here together with non-elite and elite swimmer examples:

Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 15, 2019

How Straight Do You Swim?

If you are racing in open water this season then right now you are probably swimming regularly in the pool building up your swim specific fitness. You will also be performing a range of technique work designed to refine your individual stroke technique.

That's great. But are you thinking about your ability to swim straight in open water?

This is important because it's very likely that you could gain just as much time from swimming straighter as you can from improving your swim fitness or stroke technique.

Don't believe us? Take a watch of this classic Swim Smooth video from our archives:

Let's say you want to improve your 1500m open water time by 6 minutes - a large increase in speed. It might be possible to improve your stroke technique to the tune of 6 minutes if you did exceptionally well - but it would have to be an exceptional improvement.

You might be able to improve your fitness to swim 6 minutes faster but only if you were coming from a very low level in the first place.

Far more achievable is to split out that 6 minute target into a 2 minute gain from technique, 2 minutes from fitness and 2 minutes from open water skills such as swimming straighter.

And, as Adam said on that archive clip, a key way to improve your ability to swim straight in open water is to breathe bilaterally in the pool when training to progressively make your stroke more symetrical. And in turn, the key to bilateral breathing is to improve your exhalation technique under the water.

Both of these key skills can be developed using the Guru:

Of course there are other important elements to open water swimming other than swimming straight. Your ability to stay relaxed in close proximity to other swimmers, and draft effectively (which has been shown to save up to 38% of your energy expenditure1) give big gains too. All trainable and all in the Guru of course. :)

Work on those open water skills in the pool now and you will outperform your expectations this summer.

Swim Smooth!

[1] CHATARD, J.-C., and B. WILSON. Drafting Distance in Swimming. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1176–1181, 2003.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Four Very Special Swim Clinics In Portland, Sydney and Mallorca With Paul Newsome

SS Head Coach and founder Paul Newsome is very excited to announce four special clinics in three amazing venues:

Nike World Headquarters, Portland, Oregon, USA
1 Day SS Clinic, Sunday 7th April 2019

Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, Sydney, Australia
1 Day SS Clinic, Saturday 13th April 2019

Best Centre, Mallorca, Spain
1 Day SS Clinic, Saturday 25th May 2019. Price €225.
1 Day SS Clinic, Monday 3rd June 2019. Price €225.

These clinics are a unique and extremely rare opportunity to have your stroke analysed and corrected by Paul in these amazing locations (see pics below).

Each clinic only takes 10 swimmers. Grab your place now - these clinics are sure to fill very quickly:

Paul filming at the beautiful Best Centre pool - Sunny Mallorca

Can't make it? Book a session with one of our Certified Coaches instead. Hand picked and heavily trained by Paul and Adam to give your swimming a major upgrade! :

And If Your Are Coming To Mallorca, Join Us At The BEST FEST!

Come and join the Swim Smooth team in Mallorca for the "BEST Fest Open Water Swim Festival" from May 26th to June 1st!

The BEST Fest is an amazing set of open water swimming events in the stunning waters of this beautiful mediterranean island. With a different event on every day you can enter as many or as few as you like. Ranging from the 4x 500m team relay through to the mighty 10km Colonia Classic, the BEST Fest has something for you, whatever your level of swimming:

See the full video here:

All events take place in the beautiful waters around the town of Colonia Sant Jordi. The town is famous for the amazing beaches that lie either side of the town and the island of Cabrera, Spain’s first protected nature marine park, that lies a few kilometres away.

The Swim Smooth team will be in full attendance with many of our coaches (including head coach Paul Newsome) towing the line in the various events.

Think of it like The Tour de France of open water swimming, accumulating points from each race to a series final in your age group. Meet new swimming friends from literally all over the world and enjoy the company of these like-minded swimmers in an area of extreme natural beauty... and no stingers or sharks either!

Where is it: Colonia Sant Jordi is on the southern tip of Mallorca, approximately 50 minutes drive from Palma. Hotel accommodations should be booked via Vanessa at (please quote "Swim Smooth" for the best deals) - we prefer to stay in the THB Sur - great for the budget conscious and right on the Med! An other good option is the Blue Waters, which is also a short walk from the town's 50m pool.

Event website: Entry for the various races can be made at - all 7 events plus a free relay entry can be purchased for 250 Euros but there is the option to also pick and choose as you wish!

Race as Swim Smooth: We've got a good chance of being the best attended "club" or even "country" through the "People's Republic of Swim Smooth" - as we're making a big push for other Swim Smooth followers from across the planet to come and join us for one almighty meet-up! So please add "Swim Smooth" as your club name when registering!

For full details and to enter, visit:

See you there!

Swim Smooth

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Coaches: Last Few Places Available On Portland and Sydney Coach-Ed Courses

As previously advertised, Paul Newsome and the Swim Smooth team are running four editions of our famous 3 Day Coach Education Course in April, May and June this year:

5-7 April, Portland, Oregon USA (at Nike World Headquarters)
11-13 April, Sydney, Australia
23-25 May, Mallorca, Spain
1-3 June, Mallorca, Spain

The Mallorca courses are full to bursting with a long waiting list but we have a few places available on both the Portland and Sydney courses.

Are you as passionate about swim coaching as we are? Are you keen to develop your video analysis and stroke correction skills? Would you like to understand effective training methods for distance swimming? Or perhaps you have ambitions to go on and become one of the next generation of Swim Smooth Certified Coaches?

Since we ran our first 3-day Coach Education Course in Birmingham in June 2010 we've had over 460 international coaches complete the course from over 2,700 applicants. So what's stopping you? Apply now and get started on your path to better swim coaching!

For full information and to apply, visit:

Don't hesitate to get your application in, these places will fill very quickly!

Mallorca Coach-Ed Course, May 2017

Dreaming of one day making the big trip to Perth? Here's a little preview!

We often get asked what it's like training to be a certified coach and how things run during the 2 week highlight in Perth. To give you a visual impression we've just released this medley video of footage  from the Perth course over the last few years.


Swim Smooth!

Friday, March 01, 2019

Announcing Our New Partnership With Everyone Active

Swim Smooth are very excited to announce our new partnership with Everyone Active - a world class leisure company who operate nearly 160 leisure centres across the UK.

Under the arrangement, our certified coaches will be operating in many of their pools and what's more, Everyone Active swim members will have the standard version of the Swim Smooth Guru included with their membership!

Jacqui Tillman, head of swimming at Everyone Active announces: “The partnership with Swim Smooth will bring benefits and add value to our swim-only members. We chose to partner with Swim Smooth based on its reputation for providing world-class support and advice to swimmers, and I am excited to see the positive impact it has on our members.”

If you swim in an Everyone Active centre but do not yet have a membership with them, why not sign-up and get Guru access immediately! You can find more information on that here:

You can find your nearest Everyone Active centre here:

Using the SS Guru With Your Everyone Active Swim Membership

If you are a EA swim-only member* you can now access your shiny new Guru standard-level account - a brilliant tool to improve your swimming! This includes:

- The Complete SS Drill Set for you to refer to and use to improve your stroke.

- Step-by-step Fault Fixers to correct any flaw that is holding you back.

- Our detailed Elite Swimmer studies to inform and inspire you in equal measure (including double Olympic Gold Medallist Rebecca Adlington).

- Our full Learn To Swim Program - teaching you the freestyle (front-crawl) stroke from scratch.

- Normally you need a PRO level subscription to get access to our training plans but we've included a special training plan to build your swim fitness and stroke technique.

* Note, at this time, only swim-only members have the Guru included in their membership.

Unleash the Guru on your swimming!

Get Started Right Away

To start using the Guru through your swim membership, login to your Everyone Active profile here:

Go to "My Profile" and you will see the Swim Smooth link under Your Centre section:

Or, even easier, follow this link:

Once you transfer over to the Guru from there, you can keep returning to it at (so long as your cookies are enabled).

Don't swim in an Everyone Active centre? No problem, you can subscribe to the Guru yourself from as little as £1.99 / US$2.99 / AU$3.99 / €2.99 per month. Get started here:

Swim Smooth!