Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Five important notices and one exciting bit of news!

Dear Swimmers

Hope this email finds you well. We're now well back into the swing of things and I hope you are enjoying being back at Claremont Pool!

I just wanted to give you a few important notices:

  1. information about the road closure affecting the southern / Claremont access to Claremont Pool (until late August) can be found here (thanks to James Forbes for sending this on) - please allow an extra 5-10 minutes to get to the sessions on time: - guess that means many of you might have to take a detour past our new house on Alfred Road - whoop, whoop, yes that's the exciting piece of news - we got it! We move in 30th July - can't wait - thanks for all your well wishes!
  2. the new PAYG checking-in system will likely be ready for use early August, so please continue ordering any PAYG cards as needed through - I want to make sure it's been fully tested before we launch it. I've looked at about 20 different service providers before settling on one which should be very robust for our needs and hopefully enjoyable for you to use too - more details to follow! What we will inevitably do then closer to the time is just recall all the old paper cards and credit you "on the spot" whilst you are swimming a session. Thank you to everyone who completed the form I sent through over the weekend asking for expiry dates and credits remaining - this has been very useful for us to start propagating the new system.
  3. I'm continually updating the Winter Squad List for your reference, so those of you whom have recently joined can check where you might have been wait-listed or added in at 
  4. we have made the decision to allow "open access" to the Saturday 1-2pm open water skills session from this week onwards. What this means is that even if you haven't specifically nominated for a place in this really fun session, you can rock up on the day and swim using your PAYG card. Given that this session always works best with bigger numbers, we hope that by extending it out we can get a good number of you consistently along to hone your open water skills. What would be really helpful would be if you could introduce yourself to the coach as you arrive and stipulate what you think your CSS time is currently (or what you could swim for say 400m in the pool) so that we have a good idea of how to group you for drafting exercises accordingly.
  5. numbers often drop off dramatically in the 9.30am sessions on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the school holidays, so from next week for the next fortnight, if you are wait listed for these sessions, please feel free to pop along and attend them. We will see how this pans out next Monday and Wednesday, so if you don't yet have a full PAYG card, you might like to just pay casually for these sessions at $18 per session and I will let you know how it's going.

Cheers and have a great weekend if I don't see you before!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Final bit of HouseKeeping - your help is much appreciated!

Dear Swimmers,

As mentioned, in an effort to try and stream-line the whole PURCHASE / PUNCH / PARTICIPATE for our PAYG Card system on pool deck, I have been actively seeking a new system to better track attendance and smooth this whole process for all parties. I think I have found that solution! Believe it or not, it might even do away with the need for you remembering to bring your card and then hunt around in the dark for it afterwards too!

The same PAYG flexibility will apply, just a better, more 21st-century-like method of checking you in. I thank you for your assistance - trust me, a little help with this is hopefully going to save a lot of needless admin / faff time down the line for you and us.

All I need now from you is the following couple of bits of information which will help to streamline this process. It shouldn't take you more than 90 seconds to complete:


When you lodge this form it will automatically assign exactly when you did it, so all you need to do is tell me EXACTY how many credits you have remaining on your PAYG card RIGHT NOW, which card you have (10, 25 or 50), and what expiry is listed at the bottom. I will then do the rest. This change-over will not happen instantaneously, so please rest assured that you will not lose any credits, nor is it a problem to continue to load up a new PAYG card the old-fashioned way before this system is put in place.

Thanks for your help on this one - we're nearly there with the housekeeping!


Friday, June 26, 2015

CSS Results, June 2015

Dear Swimmers

This week we've had exactly 100 of you participate in the 400m / 200m CSS Test Set out of 277 of you whom have registered an interest in swimming with the Swim Smooth Perth Squad this winter. Granted, some of you are still awaiting the call up for a spot whilst you reside on the wait list and others of you don't attend the nominated CSS Test Sessions of Wednesday 9.30am, Thursday 6.15pm and Friday 5.30am and 6.30am. Furthermore, some of you wrote to me with legitimate reasons why you could not attend too. 

However, if you haven't completed one and wish to do so, please refer back to the instructions at as I strongly recommend doing one at this stage, irrespective of what level of fitness you're at - it's just a line in the sand remember. Please note, if you do complete your own test, I won't be able to add your results to the official listings below (as you'll see it's quite a monumental amount of work to input and then analyse this data, so apologies but adding in drips and drabs makes life quite challenging once I've officially published the results) but by all means drop me a quick note and let me know how you got on!

Here are the results:

I'd like to make special mention of the following swimmers who I believe had really good results this week:

  • Andrew Graham
  • Cyndy Hetrick
  • David Serich
  • Elliott Cross
  • Glenn Morrison
  • Graham Crocker*
  • Jesper Jensen
  • John Edwards
  • Jonney Sammut
  • Lindsay Dodd
  • Lisa Luckin
  • Matt Cousins
  • Mike Scott
  • Paul McVey
  • Ray Steffanoni
  • Renee Waller
  • Simon Hazeldine
  • Vaughan Davies

*take note everyone - Mr Crocker is soon to turn 66, and is still cracking out a 1:31.5/100m CSS pace! Unbelievably incredible AND he's training full on for various Ironman and 70.3 races around the world. Legend. Nothing more to be said. OK, well just one thing then - this is still a 4s/100m improvement on his last test back in October - who says you can't look age square in the eye and say "I will not relent!" - "Croc" has been swimming with me since 2002 (13 years!) and he never ceases to amaze me with his youthful energy and gutsy performances when they count. He's also an exceptionally nice person who proves that you don't need a huge ego to perform well in this sport - so very proud of you Croc, you inspire me and many, many others! Thank you.

So, what do the above 18 swimmers all have in common? That magic "P" word - they paced themselves out really well in the 400m swim! I am sure that Andrew and Mike won't mind me saying that this is not in their natural inclination to do this (nor is it mine!, but they've taken onboard my advice and have been rewarded with excellent results - nice work lads! The only time I have ever truly raced really exceptionally well is when I've got this one "simple" aspect right. When you look at your own results, make sure you note whether or not this is one of the key things holding you back - you'll see that this applies to a good majority of you. Take a leaf out of my book - get this right, pay attention to it, be diligent about it and you will be rewarded. Doing it consistently in every session is even more beneficial not simply because you're refining the skill of pacing, but because you're consistently tapping into the correct energy systems which elicit the biggest bang for your buck!

So is that all there is to it? Pace well, get a fancy CSS result and have your name plastered up on this squad blog in front of 750+ viewers? The sceptics might say so (read here if this is you: ) but quite simply, good pacing brings good results in endurance events, otherwise over 90% of all the world records in the pool and on the running track wouldn't have been set this way!

Here's how I graded your pacing, where the numerical values represent the seconds difference between your first 100m of the 400m and the average of the remaining 300m:

What I've also taken the liberty of doing is having a deeper look at your results and tried to demonstrate (let's call it "reconciliation" or even "placate") everyone's results based on where I know you to be at this point in time. Not everyone had a stellar result of course (as predicted even more so this time around given the last 2 week break), so this is how I've tried to do that:

Finally, I've also tried to give you a recommendation of what session I'd recommend you do to bring yourself back up to speed if you were to add an additional solo swim to your program, perhaps at the weekend - this is based on the ratio or drop-off in speed between your 200m and your 400m:

If you have access to our fabulous new app, you can tap into a whole host of sessions in these categories from this link to really assist when you're swimming solo: - equally if you're trying to tune up your stroke technique, you might like to check out these cool fault fixers: or even the full Swim Type Guides as well if you'd managed to ID yourself from the recent squad questionnaire:

Anyway, hope this all helps get you back off on the right foot leading you through the winter with focus and purpose!



Thursday, June 25, 2015

To Time Trial or Not to Time Trial - that is the question!

Dear Swimmers

OK, let's not beat around the bush - yesterday, tonight and tomorrow morning will be our planned CSS testing session (a 400m and 200m time trial) to get us off to a really good start now the pool has re-opened.

All the excuses under the sun…

I've already heard quite a few excuses and reasons why some of you flatly refuse to be there for this testing, but let's look at the positives:

  1. a CSS test will let you know exactly where you're at - good or bad - so we can accurately gauge what level you should be training at going forwards and also where to position you within the pecking order of your lane at this point in time
  2. it is purely a line in the sand, nothing more, nothing less
  3. no one else really cares what your CSS pace is (seriously, they don't!)
  4. my comprehensive analysis of the results will show you in an instant three key markers: a) what your pacing was like, b) what your drop-off rate is like between the 400 and 200, and c) what types of sessions (endurance, speed or threshold) I would recommend you focus on to get you back up to speed quickly
  5. a CSS test of 600m in total is actually easier than a CSS session of 2km so in some ways it's better to kick-start your program like this than simply launching back into a hard session

So try and take the ego and apprehension out of it - as your coach knowing that a) its the winter and b) most of you have taken the two weeks off, I am not expecting anything from you. I'm certainly not expecting lots of improvement from the previous race season. Help me to help you by simply turning up and doing it.

Knowing what it's like to hit rock bottom…

With the prospect of selling our house and all the planning for the new winter program I am happy to share that I have let my own swimming slide for the last 5 to 6 weeks. I figured I needed to "move on" at the start of this week and did my CSS test. It has hit absolute rock bottom. You might feel the same way after two weeks with the pool closed, but trust me, six weeks off is shocking. I still did it though - practicing what I preach. Prior to Rotto this year I was down to 1:12/1:13 per 100m for my own CSS…yesterday 1:23 - eek! You might be thinking "pah, I'd love a CSS of 1:23!" but at 10s per 100m that's about a 14% reduction in performance, which would equate to someone normally at 1:45 per 100m dropping to just under 2:00 per 100m. That's big! So yes, I understand and feel your pain and apprehension about taking a test and feeling like you're not ready and that you don't want to "embarrass yourself" but seriously, you're not doing this - putting yourself on the line, taking it on the chin and then using this information to better move forwards is what it's all about. 

Modus Operandi…

Don't shy away - here's how to approach it properly tonight / tomorrow:

We will start off with 300 or 400 easy freestyle, followed by some 100s with the fins and pull buoys. After this we will do 3 or 4 x 100m with 20s rest at what you perceive to be your average 400m pace. If you're going to screw up your pacing in the Time Trial (and most historically do), do it now, not during the actual Time Trial(s). Then we'll re-group* and perform the 400m Time Trial followed by 5 to 8 minutes of easy swimming / rest and then do the 200m Time Trial. Break these efforts down into four:

  1. 1st quarter (i.e. 100m for the 400m or 50m for the 200m) set off at no harder than 80%. EVERYONE always says when they mess up their pacing "but it felt so easy at the start!" and are then bemused that they find it really hard at the end and yet their 1st 100m was miles faster than their average - it wants to feel steady and controlled at this point!
  2. 2nd quarter aim to settle into your pace. Feel an awareness of effort of course but confidence that you haven't overcooked it yet.
  3. 3rd quarter aim to lift your effort level by 10% or so - chances are your speed won't actually pick up, but if you have the energy to do this at this point then chances are you'll maintain pace which leads to a good result.
  4. 4th quarter aim to bring it home strongly and feel like your final effort is a sprint to the finish!

*given that I'm hoping you will read the above and be inspired enough to leave any expectations behind and simply come and give it a go, it will likely be quite busy in the morning. Please bring an extra towel and maybe a sports jacket to stay warm if you wish. The plan will be to split the group into two and have one wave swim whilst the other wave rest / watch / place bets on who will blow up etc! After they've done their swim they will rest whilst wave two does their 400m . The two waves will once again then swap over and each perform their 200m efforts. Depending on numbers we'll either operate with 3 lanes and keep 1 open for easy swimming, or operate with 4 lanes and give you a chance to have a light easy swim pre / post your effort, requesting you hop out and stay warm whilst the other waves completes their respective effort.

Quick tip for the swim geeks amongst you…

If you can't wait for me to work out your new CSS pace, then simply take your 200m time from your 400m time and divide the answer by two - that's your 100m pace and is a great party trick to wow your swim mates with your mathematical genius! For example, you swim 400m in 6:00 and 200m in 2:50, 6:00 take off 2:50 is 3:10, divided by 2 is 1:35/100 et voila! Your CSS time in an instant.

Lastly, please ensure you listen out for your cumulative finishing time and be sure to report you 400m and 200m time back to myself and Cyndy prior to leaving to ensure we have you all recorded, irrespective of how good or bad it is.

Remember, no one really cares what you do tonight / tomorrow, but there is a lot of value in just doing it, just doing your best on the day and then knowing exactly where you're at. Someone mentioned to me "I don't need a stinking Time Trial to know where I'm at - I'm rubbish right now!" they then proceeded to tell me where they thought they were at within a range of 6 to 8s per 100m…but that's simply not useful enough - way too much margin of error for your future training. Get it right now and we can then chip away at it. Chances are it'll come back quite quickly if you are consistent with your efforts at an appropriate starting point.



Monday, June 22, 2015

And you thought YOU had it hard in the cold morning air! Spare a thought for muggins here on pool deck! LOL!

Dear Swimmers

I thought you might find this article in the West Australian today a little amusing as you prepare to pop back down to squad this week. The full article can be read here:

Hotting it up in Hong Kong:

So whilst the pool was closed (which, if I might say is splendidly clean and fresh now!), I took the opportunity to head up to Hong Kong for several days of coaching with the local triathlon and open water swimming community. I had a fantastic experience and felt like I was treated like royalty which was really unexpected but very, very nice indeed.

I ran two 1-day Swim Smooth Clinics (each for 15 swimmers) and yet were inundated with demand for these sessions, so we ran a special open water skills session (a-la the Saturday 1-2pm squad session here in Perth) on the third day and also a special seminar on open water skills which was attended by nearly 100 people at the exclusive Football Club off the race course. It was a great experience and I very much look forward to returning. I even had the opportunity to work closely with six of the local coaches and to help them start the process of delivering Swim Smooth material regularly up there in Hong Kong - four of the six were former Olympians too, which was really humbling to know that we have that kind of support and interest up there in Asia.

Here are a few of the photos from my trip for your interest and amusement:

Stanley Park

"Proper" Peking Duck

The view from my room at Coach Dom's place (Mid Levels)

All smiles after  the open water skills session

With all the past and present members of the Hong Kong Triathlon committee

Getting posh at the Football Club

Working with former Olympian, Anne-Marie Munk

Working with former Olympian Sandy Chan

Drafting during the open water skills session in water that was 34ÂșC!!

Taking a "chill pill" between the sets

Eagle-eyed Newsome looking for occasional flaws in an Olympian's stroke

End of Day 2 of the Swim Smooth Clinic series

With coaches Dom and Craig

End of Day 1 of the Swim Smooth Clinic series

Putting them through their paces with a CSS test

With 3-time Olympian (in two sports no less - swimming and rowing) Coach Fenella Ng

Coaches Dom and Anne-Marie - Anne-Marie has been trying to get me up to Hong Kong for 7 years! Wish I'd gone sooner now knowing how great it was!

Focusing on the catch

Torpedo kick race!

The classic Y-T-W-L stretch routine

Coconuts in the pool with Coach Anne-Marie (we should get these down at Claremont Pool - awesome hydration!)

The view from the Peak - spectacular

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Right down to the wire!!!

Dear Swimmers

This looks like it'll be the last slightly-off-topic message you'll see from me in a while and I thank those of you who've actively taken an interest in us trying to sell our home in the hope of moving much closer to the pool for all those early morning starts!

We have what looks like it'll be our final home open today at 11am at 15c Selina Street, Innaloo and would love you to share this information with anyone you know who might be in the hunt for what is now a $50k off bargain! All offers will be presented.

All the cards are stacked up for us to come good right at the last moment, but equally it could all fall over in the blink of any eye now as well! Nothing like a bit of pressure then! Reminds me of racing down the Hudson River with Lachie Hinds in hot pursuit - I came good then but dare say I had more control over the situation than I have of this one! It'll either happen today or it won't so please forgive me for using this channel of communication as our one last ditched attempt at making what could be wonderful happen!

This is the link to our place:

All enquires can be made with Brad on 0419 345 400 or Kate on 0438 345 401 from the Hardingham Team at Realmark.

I thank you for taking the time to read this. On Monday you'll either see a big smile or a pragmatic ho-hum knowing that we did all we could for a dream that was always going to be a long shot. Either way we'll be celebrating - a new house or a new start in our old one! ;-)

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Confirmed Winter Squad Listings are now up!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you are doing well? I've just heard great news that the pool will be re-opening as planned on Monday 22nd June, starting with our first session at 7am - Pure Technique - to get you back into the swing of things!

I hope they are all correct now as it's been a monumental amount of work getting to this point and I dare say without these 2 weeks, this just wouldn't have been possible!

We are just looking at potentially getting some swipe cards to replace the old paper PAYG cards (same payment system - just a little more high-tech which will make it easier for you to swipe your card - not waiting around for me - and easier for us to track attendance). I will keep you posted on that one!

Also, thanks for all your feedback and input on how best to improve the Swim Smooth Perth Squad. An interesting point came up in a few cases about individual stroke technique feedback. Obviously we offer 1-2-1 Video Analysis and Stroke Correction sessions as your go-to source for the best possible analysis and feedback on your technique (bookings now being taken from mid-September onwards - see link above to reserve a spot), however I thought it worth highlighting what feedback you might expect per session type as we have a process of ensuring that the feedback you receive in a session matches the type of session:

  • Monday Pure Technique Session = feedback on stroke technique and performance of drills
  • Tuesday Technique / Endurance Session = feedback on performance of drills and maintenance of pace
  • Wednesday / Friday Red Mist Endurance Sessions = feedback on maintenance of pace and encouragement to keep swimming!
  • Wednesday / Thursday / Friday CSS Sessions = feedback on execution of the set and motivation to hit target times and what resulting times are
  • Saturday Open Water Skills Sessions = feedback on sighting, drafting, turning techniques

…this is not to say that if you attend a Wednesday early morning Red Mist session that I won't occasionally hand out a few pointers about your stroke (especially if you've recently done a 1-2-1 session), but that the feedback will 90% of the time be session-type specific. Hope that makes sense and is fair and reasonable? For a great source of information on improving your technique and homework for performing the drills optimally etc, make sure you check out - packed full of information that will compliment pool-side feedback nicely.

Don't forget, if you're in need of a new PAYG card to kick-start the re-start of the Winter Program, those can be ordered here:

I would imagine the first couple of weeks will be a little busy as everyone starts off with good intentions, so please read the listings, lane-orders and paces etc and be nice to your fellow swimmers! If you are in the "Reserve List" (i.e. wait listed) you cannot attend until we give you written notice - please abide by this. Equally, if it looks like numbers will remain high, we'll look at bringing in some additional coaching support to facilitate smooth deliveries. Thank you for your understanding and patience in all respects and don't forget we'll be doing some CSS testing later on this week too!

Cheers and see you Monday or later on next week!