Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A few Christmas-y reminders...

Dear Swimmers

Just a reminder that our official squad break this year over the Christmas period sees the last sessions being:

Wednesday 5.30am & 9.30am 23rd December 2015

…and the first sessions back being:

Monday 7am & 9.30am 4th January 2016

Everyone's sessions during this period will be automatically "early cancelled", but if you are away for a longer period over this time and need to cancel out of say 6+ sessions, please send me over your dates and I can bulk do that. There's a lot of keen people trying to get into the sessions, so the sooner you are able to cancel out the better as it just helps them plan their own schedules too. Everyone's happy :-) I will personally have my last session(s) with you all on Wednesday 16th December and then back to take the Friday 8th January sessions - we're lucky enough to be off to Canada to visit Michelle's family in the snow - thanks Papa Smith!

Christmas Party:

We've had 33 RSVPs through the app so far. Everyone has been heckling me, "what if all 600 people on your squad list turn up?!" - so it doesn't look like this will be an issue at this stage!! There's no need to let me know if you can't come, but if you are planning to come, please just go to the Group Classes section of the app, scan to Friday 11th December where you'll see the party button and you can RSVP that you're coming there by checking in as you would any other session. I'd hate to have to use the excuse that we only catered for 33 people and then 120 people showed up…would be a cheap night though! LOL! We'll be going from 5pm to 10pm, so even if you just dropped by for half an hour to say hi, that'd be great!

Ticking over:

This is the shortest Christmas break we've ever taken over this period but if you're super keen to keep things ticking over during this period, please check out our 30% off on the using the promo code:

It'll keep you on the straight and narrow! It might make someone you know a nice little Christmas present too, as might a 1-2-1 Video Analysis Gift Card:!gift-cards/cnac

And don't forget, those of you training away for the Rottnest Channel swim can tap into our free program here:



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bag an absolute bargain and FREE shipping on a HUUB wetsuit and / or skinsuit this week only through us!

Dear Swimmers

Here's the moment you've been waiting for! Some massive bargains of up to 50% off are to be had this week only on our range of HUUB wetsuits and skinsuits with FREE shipping!

In 2011 we were approached by Dean Jackson (owner of HUUB wetsuits) to design a new range of suits in association with legendary swimming biomechanist Prof Huub Toussaint. This 3-way know-how of swimming design insight (us), testing (Prof Huub) and leading industry insight (Dean Jackson), has allowed us to build a world-renowned wetsuit brand in a very small space of time - if they're good enough for Olympic Gold & Bronze medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, they're good enough for you!

Check out the deals here and nab yourself a bargain before it's too late!



Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Christmas Party Time! Save The Date!

Dear Swimmers

We'd love to cordially invite you all to the Swim Smooth Perth Squad's Christmas Party to be held from 5pm to 9/10pm on Friday 11th December at:

"Casa Alfredo", 145 Alfred Road, Mt Claremont, WA 6010

This will be a great chance to celebrate what has been a great year with your chums from the squad, albeit not in your bathers!!! However, if you really must, bring your bather's along and have a splash in the pool!

Please let us know if you're coming!! Partners are welcome as are kiddies!

If you would kindly RSVP simply by logging into your app and "booking" a spot in one simple click on the 11th December, that'd be great and will allow us to get an idea of how many people will be coming…it could get cosy (at least I'm hoping it will…tumble weed is not my style!). If you don't have the app, just log into your portal at and on the "Group Classes" tab, scroll to 11th December and sign-up - it's FREE of course! :-)

Please bring a nibbles plate along and we'll organise some beers and wine…of course, if you have a favourite tipple, don't be afraid to bring that either!!

There is parking along Strickland Street and even down at the pool is just a short 10-minute walk across the park if you prefer that!!

I will send out further details next week - hope you can make it!


Friday, October 30, 2015

Hobnobbing with the Big Guns!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you are doing well! All's going exceedingly well over here in the UK…we have just completed Day 2 of our first 3-day Coach Education Course where we have 20 coaches from around the world and as far afield as the USA, Kazakhstan and Singapore in attendance. It's always so great to share what you love so much with the people who care the most about what you do. The level of interest in Swim Smooth and what we do is building at a great rate of knots and it all comes from sunny Claremont Pool which is a nice thought all in itself! Very glad to have you part of what creates the bigger picture and subsequently goes on to helping thousands of others who love this great sport like you do!

So I will just leave you today with a quick hello from Pommie Land and a quick snapshot with my two heroes in the sport of triathlon - Olympic Gold Medallist, Alistair Brownlee, and his younger brother, Olympic Bronze Medallist. Jonathan Brownlee. When they told me that they were practicing the Broken Arrow drill earlier that morning, I couldn't have been prouder and more flattered. They are super-nice guys who have done so much for the sport of triathlon and to meet them and chew the fat on all things swimming was like a dream come true!

Adam of course married the lovely Marietta on Saturday at a wonderful wedding in an old stately home near Cambridge - I couldn't have been happier for my best mate! They make a brilliant couple and I am sure you are with me in wishing him a massively happy future together! Here he is with my Mum (Mother Smooth), me and Marietta:

Monday, October 19, 2015

October News Letter - please read!

Dear Swimmers

Hope all is ticking along nicely in your world this week! 

In this month's newsletter we'll be covering:

  1. Race Results from squad members around the world!
  2. Sorting out the "Pecking Order" within the lanes - please read this if nothing else! Or check out the link here:
  3. Just how does the Wait List work on the new app? Tips on how to pick up squad spots where you thought there weren't any!
  4. Paul away in the UK (Thursday 22nd October to Tuesday 10th November inclusive)


World Duathlon Championships:

I'm just seeing some wonderful podium / Top-10 results from members of the squad filtering through from the World Duathlon Championships last weekend - well done all who competed and well done especially to:

  • Carrie Anderson (Bronze, 50-54 AG, Standard Distance)
  • Brad Kaye (Bronze, 40-44 AG, Sprint Distance)
  • Deb Kempe (Silver, 55-59 AG, Sprint Distance)
  • Gina Grayson-Cassey (Gold, 40-44 AG, Standard Distance)
  • Janet Ferguson (Silver, 50-54 AG, Standard Distance)
  • Jane Davis (7th, 55-59 AG, Standard Distance)
  • Jones Sammut (12th, Junior Men, Standard Distance)
  • Claire McLean (Silver, Para-TRI, Standard Distance)

…even though Duathlon doesn't contain any swimming (run-bike-run Sprint = 5k/20k/2.5k and Standard = 10k/40k/5k) - having spent most of my Junior / U23 life racing both triathlon and duathlon, I can categorically state that duathlon is a MUCH harder sport! A veritable leg killer!

World Ironman Championships:

The word on the street is that it was a very tough day out in the lava fields and sadly many from Perth reported that they didn't have the race they were hoping for. Despite coming out of the water second in his AG and heading out onto the run in 4th, Graham Crocker sadly pulled a hammy as soon as he left T2 which ended his day immediately. This was very sad as I've never seen Croc prep for a race as well as this one, but sadly sometimes not everything goes according to plan. Pene Newitt did survive the lava fields but unfortunately due to a string of mishaps in training leading up to the event, she didn't perform as well as she had hoped - however, anyone who can swim 3.8k, bike 180k and then run a marathon in blistering 40ºC heat is a legend in my books! Well done Pene! We're very proud of you overcoming this year's adversities.

Asia / Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championships:

I'll lead this story with this:

…and then this:

…that's a 1:21/100m average pace and a massive PB for Janine Willis from the "back" on Lane 4 in the 530am squad! Why so excited I hear you ask? Could this be the first verified sign that the new lane structuring is working well? I think so! Here's why:

  • up until relatively recently Janine had only ever dabbled under the 30 minute mark for a 1.9km swim (1:34/100m)
  • more recently she's been notching along at what I estimate to be a CSS of 1:24-1:27/100m depending on how she's feeling
  • with the changes that we've brought in with the new dual group / same cycle time structure, Janine would be the first to say that she's typically one of the back-runners in her lane, however (and this is the point!), has the new chase more / draft less arrangement started to bring on performance enhancements from an already superbly well trained athlete? I think so!

The key to success in all of this? DO NOT PANIC IF YOU ARE THE SLOWEST IN YOUR GROUP AND START TO GET DROPPED IN A SESSION - THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT! Take a leaf from Janine's book - keep your cool, keep focused on you - and who knows what's possible!!

Key points to remember:

  1. don't set off too close (mind the gap!)
  2. don't cut corners (swim the full distance)
  3. avoid reaching for the security blanket of your pull buoy!
  4. don't fear "failure" - dropping off is not failing, it is to be expected!


So I spent the whole weekend liaising with our other coaches and looking at how we could possibly formalise the lane ordering to some extent so that everyone knows a "default" group and "pecking order" that they would be best advise dropping into on any given session now that we're fully into this new squad regime that is starting to elicit some really good results! Of course, knowing how dynamic the squad sessions can be, it's not always possible to fit to this exact ordering, but it is a good start. There will be still times when a certain set requires a stronger sprinter to come forwards, or you're having a bad day and need to move back within your coup, or only 3 people turn-up in your lane so we need to shuffle some people across from another lane etc, but knowing where to start from as a default is hopefully "diffusing" of any possible apprehension for you in the pool.

Here's the listings, we'll have these printed out and laminated on one of the white boards for easy reference going forwards:

Those of you with eagle-eyes will notice some disparity in the CSS pace and the associated RM 5 Cycle times between some sessions - these are not mistakes - the variance in some of these times is to account for differences in the variability of the estimated CSS pace of everyone within a group - those with a small range of difference will have an RM 5 Cycle very close to what it truly should be for the assigned CSS pace, those with a wider range from the front to the back of the group will have an RM 5 Cycle which is likely to feel more like RM 6 or 7 for the front runners. As we've been finding though, this is not a problem - being pitted against someone of equal speed to you coming at you from the opposite end of the pool is inciting competitive motivation like we've not seen before, so you'll just swim a bit quicker and end up having ~2s additional rest per 100m than you might otherwise have had. Not a deal breaker.


So you've got the new app for your iPhone or Android device and want to start tapping into the effectiveness of the wait list. Perhaps you want to try a session you've never done before? Here's how it works:

  1. we set a threshold number of people for a given session. This threshold is typically less than the total number of people showing in the Pecking Order link above, but this assumes (from our historical records) that we'll only have (at best) a 65-70% show-up rate. So in theory the threshold that we set for each session is a maximum that we'd like to see attend on any session, though it's still possible for the attendance to be higher than this if everyone (above) decides to show up. This hasn't changed of course with the new PAYG (BLUK!) system (in fact we've had busier peak sessions before the new system was put in place), but it does allow us to account for quieter sessions and seek more consistency in attendance which I'm sure you'll appreciate is happening.
  2. the permanent members of the squad have up until 12 hours before a given session to cancel out of that session and release their spot to someone else. This is called an Early Cancel. You are not charged for an Early Cancel as it allows us to find someone else to take your spot. Obviously the earlier you tell us, the better it is for everyone.
  3. if someone cancels within 12 hours of a session they will be a Late Cancel and will be charged as though they have attended. A couple of people have had medical emergencies in the last couple of weeks, so of course we can over-ride this charge in these cases, but do please ask that you respect the new process.
  4. if you have signed up for a wait list, you will be offered a spot up to 12 hrs before the session, but not after. This is because the system assumes that those who have a place will all then attend. So if you don't get a call up before 12 hrs prior to a session, you won't do. That being said, as I write this, eight people have just been offered spots within 5 minutes before that 12 hr window closes out - so be prepared for that last minute rush!
  5. please ensure that if you can no longer take the wait listed spot that you reply "N" to the SMS seeking your confirmation. You'll also receive an email to this extent too. Failing to do so will potentially make the system think you are still keen to attend and you may be docked a credit. Of course the best thing to do here is cancel our of any booked wait lists before this happens - just with a simple tap of a button!

Our current stats tell us that the following sessions are ranked from easy to hard in terms of accessing via the wait list if you were thinking of trying it out:

Very Easy / Almost Always Available:

Saturday 1-2pm

Tuesday 6.15pm

Waitlisted but A Good Chance of Getting in:

Monday 7am

Monday 930am

Tuesday 530am

Thursday 615pm

Friday 930am

Tough but Possible:

Tuesday 630am

Wednesday 930am

Friday 530am

Friday 630am

Almost Impossible (even selling your granny is often not enough!)

Wednesday 530am

Like anything though, you have to be in it to win it, right? So start getting some wait lists booked and cross your fingers! Plenty of people have already really benefitted from this process…in fact the only ones who might assume it's not functioning properly are the ones who've tried wait listing for the Wednesday 530am session, but then spots here haven't really opened up in the last few years. Funny really - it's a tough old mother of a session too!


I will be heading back to the motherland for a period of 3 weeks as of late this Wednesday evening. My last coached session will be this Wednesday's 9.30am session, and my first back will be Wednesday 11th November at 5.30am. I've got three important agenda items to do over there:

  • deliver two 3-day Coach Education Courses in Oxford and Lancaster and hand-pick the next batch of coaches who will come over to Perth 16-30 Jan and 6-20 Feb 2016 for official Swim Smooth training (two of whom have already been selected and are former Olympians - whoop!)
  • be the official wedding photographer for Adam (my business partner) as he weds the lovely Marietta this Saturday (double whoop!)
  • have a catch-up and beer with two of the world's best ever triathletes who themselves have names that sound like a baked dessert (triple whoop!)

It's going to be a great trip as usual! I'm particularly excited about a meet-up for the first time ever with the entire Swim Smooth Certified Coaching Team to discuss how the new PAYG (BLUK!) system can hopefully work well for them and also to meet up with a talented British swimmer who has transitioned into triathlon and last week in Kona swam 3 minutes faster than all the Pro women in the field! She's amazing and we hope to capture some really great footage of her swimming. I'm in awe!

As usual, I leave you in the extremely capable hands of the Swim Smooth Coaching Team as some of you have already seen within the app:

  • Monday 7am and 930am = Coach Sally
  • Tuesday 530am, 630am and 615pm = Coach Cyndy (with Coach Brad as her co-Coach on the early morning sessions)
  • Wednesday 530am = Coach Sally
  • Wednesday 930am = Coach Cyndy
  • Thursday 615pm = Coach Sally
  • Friday 530am and 630am = Coach Cyndy (with Coach Brad or Coach Marie as her co-Coaches)
  • Friday 930am = Coach Sally
  • Saturday 100pm = Coach Sally

…as you can see we've put on two excellent coaches for you at the busier sessions. You do not need to panic to rush and have cards issued anymore prior to me leaving, but whilst the option of paying cash / with a CC on pool deck is still there, the coaches would prefer online payment please so as to free up their time to concentrate on coaching you to the best of their ability.

Thanks for reading - see you at the pool!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Method In The Madness - An Evolution Of (Our) Squad Coaching Practices

Dear Swimmers

How nice is this weather?! Summer is just around the corner and if you haven't seen it already, you can check out our new Rottnest Channel Swim training guide here:!rotto-program/cjl8 - packed full of useful tips and information as well as a fully detailed step-by-step training planner with full session detail all 100+ sessions to get you across to Thomson's Bay - not to be missed!

The Method In The Madness - An Evolution Of (Our) Squad Coaching Practices

When it comes to numbers, I admit it, I'm a geek. When it comes to evolution of training practices to better deliver a squad session, I'm fastidious. But with evolution comes testing, experimentation, and a constant thirst for trying to do things better. As such, I thought that some of you would benefit from reading the below chronological developments with respect to how utilising technology in our training sessions has benefitted the delivery of our sessions, and looks set to continue for some time to come! It will also help to explain the method in the madness behind some of the recent initiatives we've been trying which are starting to generate much discussion, e.g. the use of the two groups on the same cycle time. So if you're curious about those and how they'll benefit you, read on, especially Phase 5 (at the end).

Of course, not all of you will want to read this (that's OK) - those who don't, won't; those who do…well perhaps you'll just be the ones making the biggest improvements by maximising your time in the sessions! I appreciate this is arguably my longest ever posting (oo er!!!).

At First, The New Thing is Rarely As Good As The Old Thing Was...

It's worth starting with this simple caveat, as so eloquently put by marketing guru and all-round fountain-of-wisdom, Seth Godin, from his book "Tribes":

"At first, the new thing is rarely as good as the old thing was. If you need the alternative to be better than the status quo from the very start, you'll never begin. Soon enough, the new thing will be better than the old thing. But if you wait until then, it's going to be too late. This isn't about having a great idea. The great ideas are out there, for free, on your neighbourhood blog. This is about taking initiative and making things happen. Getting out first and staking out the new territory almost always pays off."

It's fair to say, I've never been one to accept the status quo, even when that status quo was put in place by myself! It's only by diligently watching and observing how the squad develops like an organism and what seems to be working and with which group and why, that I can be confident in progressing these ideas for the benefit of you all. Like every good "experiment" there will always be trials and tribulations, but then without this empirical testing we'd still be stuck in the dark ages, so that is where we will begin.

PHASE 1: In The Olden Days There Was A Clock

If you've come from a swimming background, you instinctively know how to use the pool clock. In fact you might still harbour secret desires to melt down every single one of my tempo trainers and offer your time and assistance teaching those without a swimming background how to use the clock! But the clock is old. The clock is ugly. The clock doesn't tell you anything about your micro-incremental pacing nor is it easy to read on misty mornings or when the power is down it's rendered simply useless. So if you've ever felt guilty about not knowing how to use the clock in other squads, don't panic, I'm not a huge fan either! But of course at one point it did serve a purpose:


  • (usually) always there
  • a (relatively) accurate gauge of the times you are hitting (so long as you aren't short-sighted and don't do longer distances, where it's very easy to lose track of where you are on the dial)
  • allows coaches to set cycle times for individual lanes: a cycle time is the time that the coach expects you to hit per interval including the rest (we'll look at how our RM Cycles are an evolved version of this method in a moment)
  • great for ensuring people "mind the gap" (and you all know how fond I am of that!) with 5 or 10 second increments typically (of course we now replace this with a set distance - the green sign - before setting off)


  • 10 x 200 on 4:00 with 5 second intervals between each swimmer. The leader sets off for each successive 200m after 4 minutes has elapsed. The rest is what you made it - swim faster, get more rest. Simple, but restrictive to 5 second increments on the clock


The pool clock served a purpose and continues to serve a purpose in many squads around the world, and yes, elite squads at that - so it can't be too evil! However, it does have major limitations - enter the original Wetronome, circa 2004.

PHASE 2: That Lovable Yellow Beeper

When I set up Swim Smooth in 2004, at the very same time a company called Atamo from here in Perth had developed a tool called a Wetronome. One of the company's directors, Andrew Holmes, became a very close friend of mine and continues to swim with the squad to this day. He's due a long-service carriage clock fairly soon. Andrew's idea was to create a gadget that helped a swimmer monitor the consistency of their stroke rate (how many strokes you take per minute, or spm) or to be able to increase or decrease this rate by means of a simple audible beep. It was brilliant and pretty much bomb-proof at that! The current Finis Tempo Trainer Pro that we use today had a predecessor at this time called (funnily enough) a Tempo Trainer, this was a similar device but no way near as durable and worked on seconds per stroke as opposed to strokes per minute (that's a big difference as you need a calculator just to change the setting each time!).

Andrew's Wetronome had the ability to be able to be set as slow as 10spm or as high as 240spm (that's quick!), but I wanted it slower, much slower! The pool clock was down in my favour and I wanted a way to be able to set the beeper in increments of multiple seconds so that a swimmer could pace themselves out over a set distance, i.e. you want to swim at 1:40/100m - this is 25 seconds per 25m, so set the beeper to beep once every 25 seconds and aim to hold the pace. Andrew, being the genius that he is, obliged quickly and smoothly in a way that only a nimble technology company can. I had what I needed and it suddenly became a much better way of controlling those micro-incremental pacing issues that so many of us have. It was way more effective than the pool clock as you could actually work out where you were relative to your target pace and work to control this on the fly. Even the fancy swim watches out there weren't able to do this at the time - you could only retrospectively see how well you'd done after you'd done it. With the Wetronome we had real, live, pace control and that was a very powerful thing. Ironically enough, the original Finis Tempo Trainer always had the ability to do this by default in it's settings, but no one was using it other than a metronome for stroke rate until I got my inquisitive little hands on it! But they both had some issues:


  • a little tedious to set for on-the-fly busy squad sessions, especially the Tempo Trainer, as it was programmable in increments of 0:01 seconds up to 10 seconds before defaulting to full seconds meaning LOTS of button presses
  • both were only then adjustable in 1 whole second increments which meant that pace target times had to be either 1:20/100m or 1:24/100m or 1:28/100m if they were set per 25m, as such they lacked the fine tuning that I then sought


  • 20 x 100 with a target time of 1:36/100m, taking 1 beep recovery (effectively making the cycle time 2 minutes). The leader sets off for each successive 100m when the beeper goes on the 5th beep. If you missed a beep you were instructed to wait for the cycle to come around again as there was no way to re-start the cycle easily enough

PHASE 3: Getting Jiggy Wid It!

I can still recall the feeling of absolute geeky excitement when Finis released their Tempo Trainer Pro. Why? Because it became possible to program it to 1/100th second accuracy. Immediately my over-glider analytical brain went into over-drive! What if the only reason people hadn't been improving as much as they would like was because they didn't have an accurate enough pace source to allow fine adjustments to their target paces week-in, week-out. What if it were possible to initiate improvement just by setting weekly targets that were as little as 1/10th second per 25m faster than the week before - small enough not to feel the difference, but big enough to add up over say 10-12 weeks. Enter our 10 week CSS Development Program in January 2012 which saw a squad of 180 athletes ultimately all improve their CSS pace by an average of 3.5% and up to 13% in some cases. It revolutionised the way we trained like nothing before it.


  • super-accurate pacing
  • really helped to develop a swimmer's CSS pace over time (Critical Swim Speed - the truest measure of your ability to perform well over any distance greater than 400m), especially when the swimmer was swimming solo with the beeper on a consistent basis. The CSS is calculated by the rate of drop off in speed between a 400m and 200m time trial. Take your 400m time (e.g. 7:00) and your 200m time (e.g. 3:20) and divide the difference by two, e.g. 1:50. This is the pace you'd be predicted to hold then for a swim of 1500m, i.e. your threshold.
  • the ability to re-sync the cycle time with the push of the top button meant much smoother running of squad sessions and less waiting around (wasting time and ruining the training effect) by having to wait for the cycle to come back around again

DISADVANTAGES (using the beeper like this isn't all roses though):

  • potentially less need for super accuracy in a squad session when only the lane leader truly benefits and knows how close to their pace they are
  • psychologically demanding / off-putting if you fall behind on your targets leading to a lot of stress for the leader


  • 10 x 400 at a CSS of +6s/100m for the 1st four intervals, +5s/100m for the next three intervals, +4s/100m for the next two intervals, +3s/100m for the last interval. Set the beeper per 25m and aim to stay with it. Take 1 beep recovery between each interval and reduce the beeper down by 0.25s every new block. Precision is everything.

PHASE 4: The Swirling, Whirling Red Mist!

Those of you familiar with the above set will know that this formed the basis for what has become our most popular session of the week - the Wednesday 5.30am "Red Mist" session - so called because of the stress and tension that following the beeper so precisely for 4 to 5km creates and perfectly replicates the feeling of stress within a race. The idea of course is to subject you to that feeling regularly enough so that racing just becomes a walk in the park. Nearly. Keeping calm in this situation is what it's all about and this session is as much a test of your mental tenacity as it is your physical strength.

In search for new sets that could be concocted to deliver this exact same effect (without always giving you 10 x 400m each Wednesday, which funnily enough I do, but would certainly bore most of you to tears!), I started to drift back to the old school method of working on cycle times. These are less accurate for pace awareness, but combining a Friday's CSS session (with pacing precision) and Wednesday's Red Mist session (with looser targets but challenging endurance) would deliver the best of both worlds. The great thing about using the Tempo Trainer Pro over the clock then is that these increments can be as small as 1/100th of a second or as large as 1 second, but of course way more precise than having to work cycle times in 5 second increments on the clock and again, for longer intervals, you always get a bit of an idea of how well you're going.

Initially, I used to just put numbers up on the board which *seemed* right until Coach Cyndy prompted me to write a formula to calculate the varying degrees of cycle times that we were using. This enabled us to systemise the method for use within our and essentially make it available for wider public use. We called this an RM Cycle (or "Red Mist" Cycle) and is calculable simply by taking your 100m CSS pace, i.e. 1:40, dividing it by two to give your 50m pace and then adding 1 to 8 seconds etc to give the RM Cycle time, i.e. RM5 would be 50+5 seconds in this example or 55 seconds per 50m. The lower the RM Cycle number, the tighter (harder) the set.


  • a significant psychological boost as you're always ahead of the beeper
  • allows for day-2-day variation in how you're feeling due to being less precise than the CSS targets
  • has allowed a vast amount of variation and creativity in our sessions

I am proud to say that with this method, I have now created over 120 Red Mist Sessions since we initiated the method and as such, if you've swum with us consistently on a Wednesday morning for 2+ years, you won't have repeated a single session in that time!


  • 20 x 50 on RM6, 10 x 100 on RM5, 5 x 200 on RM4, 5 x 400 on RM3. Set the beeper per 50m and aim to beat the beeper. Your recovery between intervals is formed by how far ahead of the beeper's 50m cycle you get.

PHASE 5: Current Day Thinking

There is no doubt that the methods described in Phases 4 and 5 are both very beneficial for your ongoing improvement - so much so that if I'm feeling really adventurous we'll often split a session 50/50 where sometimes you're "staying with the beeper" (based off CSS paces) and sometimes you're encouraged to "beat the beeper" (RM Cycles). We will continue to use both methods going forwards of course. 

However, my most recent observations have shown a plateauing of certain groups within each of the squads and I wanted to know why this was happening and to instigate some changes as much as rocking the status quo might initially rock the apple cart! My belief is this:

  1. having two groups working within the lane has indeed allowed us to narrow the range of CSS paces within a group such that everyone is working closer to a target time appropriate for them, but on certain sessions (longer intervals typically), this has meant the faster group catching the slower group too frequently which causes a bit more "Red Mist" than even I enjoy instigating! Perhaps this melée creates too much disruption?
  2. despite the warnings to "mind the gap" not many do this diligently enough and a group of very similar speed swimmers ultimately sees those at the back of the group drafting along at the sub-threshold paces even if that is not their intention
  3. drafting has been shown to save you 38% of your energy expenditure - but in a training context, you might as well view this as meaning that unless you're leading you're possibly not working hard enough and consistently enough to gain the true benefits of the session
  4. the real improvers in the last two years have consistently been those who've stayed down a lane (rather than move up) and have never shied away from leading the lane when asked
  5. whilst I know for a fact (given the June questionnaire) that only 50% of the squad are training for anything remotely competitive, I am sure we all want to improve and in some way, these weekly sessions almost satisfy the competitive drive in many of you thus negating the feeling that you must race if you're training this frequently

With a full squad it's difficult to ensure that a) everyone gets chance to lead, and (perhaps more importantly) b) everyone has a suitable gap in front of them to give the same sensation as leading more consistently. This can be achieved by splitting the group as we have done recently:

  • two groups, each with the fastest two swimmers in the lane leading a group on the same cycle time
  • in theory the two groups will never meet, making for less congestion and a better lane dynamic
  • other swimmers are distributed evenly such that half the original group 1 is at the front of the new group 1 and the other half is at the front of group 2. Group 2 then gets split in a similar manner
  • a cycle time is created that is half-way between the two original groups - this allows a touch extra recovery for the faster swimmers than normal and a touch less for the slower swimmers, but where everyone benefits is that the faster swimmers end up "racing" their "opponent" to the middle of the pool each time (and thus bringing these guys / girls off their plateaus) and the slower swimmers always inevitably end up with a gap in front of them - less drafting means more quality work and that means improvement

For your reference I've been applying this method now in Lane 2 of the Wednesday and Friday 5.30am squad for over 18 months (so it's not entirely new and off-the-wall as you might believe) and have had some great results with those guys and girls. I want you to experience that too.

Don't Panic Mr Mannering!

The key thing is for those who have essentially moved up within their lane is not to panic - you are expected to drop off the pace of the guys and girls in front of you and end up drafting less - as was evidenced this morning, you'll still make the cycle times (albeit this is a skill to set on my part now, i.e. the "experiment") and will still end up swimming at a pace that is appropriate to yourself with the long-term view of clawing your way up to the faster swimmers in the group. Win, win. You don't have to feel like you have to keep up. That's the point.

Ultimately it's fair to say that the best way for everyone to improve would be to have 30 lanes, 1 person to a lane, each with their own beeper, each working to their own targets. This is unrealistic of course. The next best thing? Swim by yourself of course. I do. I have to. But what is it that is missing most when training solo like this? Camaraderie. Team spirit. Group motivation. The sense of belonging. Trust me, I'm a loner (!), but I'd much prefer to be in there swimming with you all!

Hope this helps give you some perspective on the methods in my madness! As ever I'll be constantly seeking a better way and welcome your feedback and inquisition at all times. That is what good coaching is all about. Thanks for reading!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Just in time! 2016 Rottnest Training Plan - 3 ways to train with Swim Smooth!

Dear Swimmers

Please check out the full details of our 2016 Rottnest training plan starting Monday 5th October. Now there are 3 ways in which you can train with Swim Smooth's expertise at your back by either / or:

  1. downloading our FREE comprehensive 21-week training planner - suitable for Team, Duo and Solo entrants
  2. accessing our squad sessions (where available) or swimming with us at Claremont Jetty on a Thursday and Sunday at 6am (as per the planner)
  3. tapping into the Solo-specific 21-week fully detailed training program for just $20/mo which details all 100+ training sessions to take you across to Thomson's Bay on 27/28th February - ideal for those who have to (or prefer to) train alone