Thursday, April 17, 2014

A big day for Swim Smooth! Our new App is ready for downloading! Plus ANZAC Day Allocations!

Dear Swimmers

Firstly, thanks to those of you who applied earlier in the week for the special ANZAC Day Squad at 7am to 8.30am next Friday, 25th April at the Claremont Pool. We have allocated the following positions and probably have ~5 extra spaces remaining - but please be quick! Email me now and stipulate your lane request. Thanks!


Secondly, it's a massively important day for us today as we officially launch our very first fully-functional App! Check it out here: https://twitter.com/swimsmooth/status/456506819780038656 - download your copy today and when the new Swim Smooth silicon swim caps (complete with new, funked up logo) arrive to celebrate the "birth" of our brand new swim box at at Claremont Pool on the 30th April, show me the App on your iPhone or iPad and get a free cap! Can't say fairer than that!!


Enjoy! Have a great Easter!

Paul



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A reminder about the Easter Mini-Break and ANZAC Day

Dear Swimmers

Great to see most of you back down at the pool this last couple of days now that I'm back to normality with Mish returning home on Sunday. Thanks for all your lovely messages of support - Mish's brother seems to be doing really well and it was great for her to go and see him and support him through his third round of chemotherapy.

Easter:

Just a quick reminder then that given the various pool closures this weekend for the Easter Break, as normal, we will be cancelling the following sessions on the following days:

  • all sessions on Friday 18th April
  • all sessions on Saturday 19th April
  • all sessions on Monday 21st April

…from speaking with many of you it seems that half of Perth's population will be down south anyway this weekend, which is exactly where we're headed to as well - Augusta for 3 nights camping - should be fun!

ANZAC Day:

Finally, on Friday 25th April the pool will not open until 7am due to ANZAC Day. As such, the 5.30am and 6.30am squads will be unable to run as normal, though the 9.30am session will still go ahead as per a normal week.

To make up for these "lost" sessions, we are offering up to 10 places in each of the 4 lanes for a special 7am to 8.30am squad session. This is your chance to come and have a crack at a solid 1.5hr session of up to ~6km (for lane 4, lane 3 will likely do 5.5km, lanes 1 & 2 ~5km). The idea will be for the session to be a bit of a cross between a Wednesday 5.30am Endurance session and the Friday 5.30/6.30am Threshold session, so it will be a solid challenge, but hopefully a fun one at that - something to lift you out of your comfort zone and if you've never had the chance to try the Wednesday 5.30am session yet, this should be a nice little taster!!

To "apply" please respond to this email ASAP, with your name, current threshold pace and / or the normal lane in which you swim and in which session, i.e. Joe Bloggs, 1:22/100m, Lane 4, Friday 5.30am. First come / best dressed and all that. Anyone currently swimming with the squad can apply (i.e. if you normally swim at 9.30am but fancied this challenge, please just apply and cross your fingers for a spot!).

I will notify you of who was lucky to get a spot on Thursday 17th April at 3pm.

Given that some of you will no doubt take the opportunity to have a bit of an extended break between Easter and ANZAC Day I am anticipating a slightly quiet week next week - so if that's you, have fun, enjoy and see you post-ANZAC Day where we will truly get back into the swing of things! Can't wait to get that routine going again.

Cheers

Paul



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

121 Video Analysis Session Availability with Super Sally Scaffidi!


Dear Swimmers

As most of you are well aware, last year Coach Sally Scaffidi who has been taking the majority of my squad sessions in my recent absences became an officially certified Swim Smooth Coach - whoop, whoop! You can read more about that here:


We are super proud of all Sally has achieved in such a relatively short space of time with her video analysis and stroke correction work and I can personally vouch for just how great her abilities are in this regard. Setting up the certified coaches program was a daunting thing to do initially as anyone with their own business will sympathise that you're always a little concerned about how another person might relay your philosophy and methodology as you have done for so many years. However, I have the pleasure in having personally tutored Sally through her entire certification process and continue to assist with ongoing mentoring. Needless to say, a session with Sally is nothing short of a session with myself and - without blowing my own horn too much in this discipline of swim coaching - I don't think there's any better compliment I can give than that. All the advice you will receive from Sally will be totally concurrent with what I would tell you. 

I am personally fully booked until mid-August and whilst I am still accepting bookings, Sally's wait period is much less simply by virtue of the fact that she's still establishing her business.

Full details of Sally's sessions can be found at:


She works the following spots at Claremont Pool:

Monday to Wednesday  (11am and 12.30pm)
Thursday  (9am and 10.30am)
Saturday (2.30pm)

Cost is $175 for the 75 minute consultation.

This will be the best opportunity you get this winter to hone your swimming technique - don't delay, book a spot in today by contacting Sally direct on sally@sscoaching.com.au

Cheers

Paul



Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday 4th April 9.30am beach session - CANCELLED! Also, Easter & ANZAC Day Notes...

Dear Swimmers

Well done to those of you who came down for the two 9.30am sessions this week on Wednesday and Friday - they were supposed to be in the 25m pool but both school carnivals were cancelled at the last moment and as such we were in the 50m pool as normal - yay! For those of you who came, you deserve a big pat on the back and a great big thank you from me as you came with the full acceptance that you'd be in the 25m pool, not your favoured 50m. You rolled with the punches, took the session for what it was, and as per the excellent feedback from last Wednesday's 25m session, really excelled and enjoyed yourself! Thank you. 

In any of part of the world, the 25m pool at Claremont Pool would simply be "world class" and super popular, but I do feel that we're a little spoiled over here with all the 50m pools available at our beck and call. One of the great things about the 25m pool is that for CSS type training with the beeper, there's absolutely no guestimation about whether you're exactly at the 25m marker or not, it's obvious of course. Another plus side is that you'll be ~1.5 seconds per 100m faster than in the 50m pool, which is always an encouraging thing! As it happens 3 out of the 6 supposed 25m sessions actually went ahead in the 50m pool, so it's always worth giving it a try - who knows what you might learn and enjoy as a bit of variety.

Anyway, enough about that - we have had definitive confirmation that the one remaining carnival which clashes with next Friday 4th April's 9.30am session will definitely proceed. We have been allocated a beach session for this session, however, given the relatively low interest at the session on Friday 7th March and little interest this week in this session, we have elected to cancel the session but instead encourage you to try the session below in your own time and perhaps at a different pool. I hope this helps:


Barring this session we are full steam ahead now, with no more disruptions other than Easter and ANZAC day on the horizon:

Good Friday 18th April - all sessions CANCELLED
Easter Saturday 19th April - all sessions CANCELLED
Easter Monday 21st April - all sessions CANCELLED
ANZAC Day Friday 25th April - the pool opens at 7am, so we have booked 4 lanes from 7am to 8.30am for an extended special session (applications will be sent out for this in the next 10 days) and will also have 3 lanes at 9.30am to 10.30am as well - I hope you can join us!

Thanks everyone - just a final reminder that you will only see me at the 9.30am sessions for the next 2 weeks. Coaches Sandy, Sally, Brad and Cyndy (the “Awesome Foursome”) will take my other sessions whilst Michelle is visiting her sick brother in Canada during this period. Thanks once again for all your lovely well wishes and messages of support - they were very much appreciated.

Paul

Friday, March 21, 2014

Hi Honey, I'm home!

Dear Swimmers

Well, I hope you've had a brilliant couple of weeks in my absence - if you didn't catch what I've been up to in the UK, you can read more about that here: http://www.feelforthewater.com/2014/03/photo-video-highlights-from-triathlon.html and a little more below, demonstrating what the last week or so has entailed.

Thanks to the coaches who've stood in for me - Sally, Sandy, Brad and Cyndy - you guys have been simply brilliant and I am so proud to have you as an integral part of the team!

Firstly though, I have a little bit of bad news I'm afraid. Just before I left for the UK we found out that Michelle's younger brother has been diagnosed with cancer and has immediately started a course of chemotherapy. My initial stay in the UK was going to be 5 weeks, but given this news we curtailed it to 2.5 weeks, with Adam and Annie stepping up for me for two more major presentations we were due to do next weekend. He's such a great guy and only 38 years old with two kids the same age as ours. It's really quite sad and confronting and understandably Mish wants to go home and visit him in Vancouver, Canada to show morale support and assist with his day-2-day care in the short-term. His diagnosis has improved a lot since we first found out about it (B-cell lymphoma), but even still Mish wants to of course do everything she can to support him at this tough time. She will be leaving for Canada late on Friday 28th March and arrive home early on Sunday 13th April. 

This does have repercussions for you all in the squad as (given that we have no family support ourselves over here - just some bloody awesome friends though it has to be said!), I will be stepping back down again from the early morning squad sessions in order to take Jackson to school (5 days/wk) and Isla to daycare (2 days/wk - Monday & Wednesday) and simply be there for my family in this time of need. I do hope you will all understand - it's not a decision we've taken lightly given how I've already been away in the UK for other coaching purposes this month.

As such, I plan to be there for Monday & Wednesday 9.30am squad sessions (as per usual) and for the Friday 11th April 9.30am squad session - one of the other coaches (TBC) will take the Friday 4th April 9.30am session down at Cottesloe Beach as originally prescribed (and yes, thank god, we're nearly through the whole 25m/50m pool and beach shuffle on these sessions - thanks so much for your patience and support here, the coaches have told me you've done great considering!). I will be shifting all my 1-2-1 sessions to after the 9.30am squads and before school pick-up. 

So for this 2 week period starting, Monday 31st March, we will have a similar coaching roster to what you've just experienced in my absence, with one full week (next week) entirely back to normal with me at the helm on each session. Clear as mud? I thought so! It feels a little like that myself!

The main point is that I hope you can support us in this period with your attendance and I do appreciate and recognise the fact that this brings with it a little bit of an unsettled period where I had originally promised consistency and stability. In 12 years of living and coaching in Perth I've been fortunate enough that even without any extended family here, I've never once had to make adjustments to my coaching schedule for anything out of the blue like this due in no small part to Mish's brilliance as a mother - but in this scenario my family has to come first and I will do everything I can possible to make that up for you once we're all back to normal following Easter. Sound OK?

Alright, so briefly then the last week and a bit in the UK went really well. We did another Triathlon Show in Manchester and again had two major presentations to deliver, some Endless Pool coaching sessions with Zoggs UK and also chance to meet and greet literally thousands of our Swim Smooth followers - it was great!

Then, just last weekend we were in Loughborough delivering one of our 3-day Coach Education Courses to 14 international coaches whom we had previously selected from over 100 suitably-qualified applicants for the course. On the final day we had 14 swimmers come in to join those 14 coaches which gave the coaches immediate hands-on experience of working with our methods and recognising how to use our Swim Types system to it's utmost best. I felt it was the best course we have ever delivered and to end on more of a cheery-note, here we all are "jazz-hands" at the ready (minus Arnar from Iceland who had to fly home early) - see you in 30 minutes down on pool deck! Friday 5.30am squad beckons (jet-lagged to the max!):








Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It's going A-M-A-Z-I-N-G in the UK right now!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you've all had a brilliant weekend and are enjoying a change of scenery from my ugly mug each morning! I wanted to write and tell you about how it's all going here in the UK and also to show you some photos too - enjoy!

We kicked off at the annual Triathlon Show in London on Friday where I hosted a Q & A with 6-time Ironman Champion, Mr Dave Scott - what a legend! 

Here's Dave with part of our UK Swim Smooth team of Emma, Adam, Annie, Dave Scott, me, Fiona, my Mum Linda (or "Mother Smooth" as she's now widely known), and my step-Dad Steve:


Everyone is buzzing around such a legend! I even got to do two swim sessions with Dave at early-o'clock each day too which was a bonus!

Next up we finished the first day with a 1-2-1 stroke correction session for a lady called Kirsty in front of a group of 100+ onlookers in an Endless Pool flume tank - lots of fun!!!


On Saturday we started with a new presentation that I've been working on for our Swim Types system and invited Olympic Silver Medallist in the 2008 10km open water event, David Davies, to stand up and say a few words about how his stroke style (being very much of the Swinger persuasion) having been totally the right style for him. Other coaches tried to change him over the years, but it always slowed him down (he says), but his original coach, Dave Hala, in Cardiff knew exactly what he needed and capitalised on that - his results speak for themselves:


"People used to say I looked horrible - like a spider, but when I tried to lengthen out and slow down my stroke rate I simply became slower, not more efficient - being like Sun Yang just didn't work for me!"

This was the busiest presentation of the entire weekend from any presenter with over 300 people in attendance (standing room only) - I was super chuffed!


Standing room only!

I then did the second Q & A of the weekend with Ironman legend Dave Scott which went down equally well. Dave is such a smooth operator and really entertained the crowd with discussions on nutrition and training etc. I had to pinch myself at least eighteen times to get a full grasp of where I was and with whom!

Immediately afterwards we called in the "Big Guns" and ran a "Swinger vs Smooth Smackdown" in the two Endless Pools to a huge record crowd between Olympic Silver (2008, 10km) & Bronze (2004, 1500m) medallist David Davies and double Commonwealth Gold medallist (200m freestyle and 4 x 200m freestyle) Ross Davenport. It was arguably the highlight of my entire coaching career and a real milepost in Swim Smooth's nearly-10-year history:


Swinger .vs. Smooth "Smackdown" in front a huge audience at the 2014 "220 Triathlon Show"

We used Dave and Ross to showcase their completely different, but equally valid and effective, stroke styles - and let's face it: who can argue with their credentials! It just goes to show that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to swim technique:


Arm recovery action is NOT a key determinant of swimming efficiency!


Sandwiched between two British heroes!


What a legend: Britain's most successful ever swimmer, David Davies, who's won Olympic medals in the pool AND open water was our guest for the Saturday, just one week after his second daughter was born too!


Weak at the knees in the presence of such swimming greatness!



We finished the day with some video filming of Dave Davies's stroke at a local pool - man machine!


Adam, Fiona, Dave Davies, Annie and me post filming


On our Swim Smooth booth with my Mum and step-Dad Stevie - we've come a long way in 10 years and we're only just getting started!


Yet another milestone: we released our Mr Smooth .vs. Miss Swinger App on the iTunes App Store on Saturday too - get your copy here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mr-smooth/id824204887

On Saturday night for the second year running we won the "Best Wetsuit Brand" annual award with our HUUB range: http://www.swimsmooth.com/huub-wetsuits.html for which Dave Scott is now a brand Ambassador along with Olympic Gold and Bronze medallist Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee - sweet! HUUB owner Dean Jackson was so proud - rightly so!

On Sunday I delivered our second presentation on the topic of CSS Training & Development and led with this story: http://www.feelforthewater.com/2013/08/kate-bevilaqua-interview-going-from-62.html which was really well received despite it being a relatively "dry" subject. It was then back into the pool to deliver a jam-packed 1-2-1 Video Analysis and Stroke Correction session with the 220 Triathlon Show's Editor, Helen Webster:


Now that's an audience!


Helen enjoying her feedback despite the obvious self-consciousness that anyone would feel with so many people looking over your shoulder!


Back in the pool for some stroke correction immediately afterwards!

All-in-all the show went amazingly well. We have all worked so hard on putting these presentations and demonstrations together over the last 3 months so it felt like a great reward to have so many people's attention for so long over the weekend and we thank them all for their interest!

Now, we're on our way up to Manchester for the second Triathlon Show this Saturday and Sunday via a pitstop in Birmingham whilst we continue to work on a truly ground-breaking piece of work which will hopefully be a real game-changer come May / June - watch this space!!

We finish with a 3-day Coach Education Course at Loughborough University on the 14th to 16th March before I high-tail it back to Perth before Mish and the kids realise I've been gone! ;-)

See you all soon and thanks for allowing me this opportunity to head over to the UK and to deliver such an exciting Tour de Swim Smooth!

Paul





Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rotto 2014 Race Report - view from the support boat of swimmer # 83, Sally Scaffidi


Dear Swimmers

Firstly a massive congratulations to all those who competed at the weekend in the 2014 Rottnest Channel Swim - they were some pretty amazing conditions, but as we’ll see from my observations…only for some!

I haven’t got the full list yet of who did what in the teams and duos so please do send me through any of your own reports as I’d love to see them.

I would like to share my observations initially from the support boat deck of swimmer # 83, our very own coach “Super Sal”.

About 9 months ago Sally somewhat surprised me by saying that she was thinking of having a crack at her first ever Solo swim to Rottnest. In the past, Sally and always said “not me - I’ll get too cold!” (being of a lean, mean triathlete disposition) - so this was quite a turn-around, so I said “ok, let’s see what we can do!”

Sally’s program started off by building up some confidence by partaking in the Fiji 10km swim back in August, an event which she ended up placing 2nd overall in a time of 2h30m - not bad at all for your first 10km swim! A pace of 1:30/100m! It was however, 28ºC in the water and as such Sally was able to power on through to a fabulous result!

Our biggest concern leading into this event was “will the water warm up enough to avoid the risk of hypothermia?” Even just 3 months ago, we were still talking between ourselves that Sal’s “threshold temperature” would be ~23-24ºC and anything less would be very marginal indeed. Still, we persevered and did whatever we could to prepare…a bit of weight gain, swimming in cold water etc. At the 5km at City Beach before Christmas Sally got extremely cold and disorientated by the finish in temperatures of ~22-23ºC which obviously raised our concerns about being able to pursue 19.7km in those temperatures or colder. Still, we soldiered on!

Cut to the race on Saturday and following my inaction from recent back surgery I offered to support Sally from her boat. We were both quite excited as I’ve never actually supported anyone on a marathon swim before, not least their first!


All Sal’s training had been going great guns and we had an excellent nutrition strategy in place and all the mental conditioning had been rehearsed over and over. In training, Sally had been coping very well even to the point of suggesting the water felt “warm” at Sorrento Beach just a few weeks back when she knocked out another great 2h36m 10km swim in lumpy(isn) conditions. We were all set. However, as it turned out, the water proved to be 21.2ºC on the morning of Saturday 22nd February 2014 and (whilst we couldn’t change that) it was always going to be a marginal call for Sal even just getting across there…but survive she did and I could not be more proud of her for keeping going and achieving a goal that very few do when the chips were down and conditions conspiring against her.

A successful solo marathon swim requires 3 key things to be in place:

  1. the ability to adapt (and thrive!) in the conditions
  2. the ability to hold together a sound nutritional program throughout the course
  3. the ability to stave-off sore shoulders / niggles

…when just one of those things is amiss you could find yourself in trouble - when all three are lost - watch out!

Conditions

Not only was the water temperature cooler than we had hoped for (21ºC vs 23-24ºC and thus 2-3ºC below were we had estimated Sal’s “temperature threshold” to lie) but the following easterly (whilst brilliant for some and certainly conducive to fast times on the most part), my retrospective analysis has shown that those with stronger kicking patterns were the ones who really thrived on Saturday by being able to ride the surf a little bit like a kid on a boogie board and/or carried a little more body mass to capitalise on the momentum gained with each wave. That’s by no means a scientific analysis, purely a rough conclusion I’ve come to looking at who did well versus what I know of them and their strokes. Again, horses for courses. 

It’s the first time in 12 years since I arrived in Perth that I’ve seen such conditions and whilst it would be prudent to try to train for every possible outcome, I think with the recent shark paranoia etc, far fewer swimmers have been willing to practice in a full range of conditions like they might have in years gone by. The conditions were so polarised in people’s perceptions and feedback to me this week that I’ve personally learnt a lot from it myself - it appears you either loved the pushing swell (strong kickers) or hated the lack of being able to establish a rhythm (everyone else). Still, you can’t change that - it was what it was and on the most part times were quicker than previous years.

Nutrition

Sal’s nutrition plan was very much like my own - simple, tried and tested. Every 30 minutes stop and alternate between carb drink and then carb drink / water and a gel. In the last 9 months it’d worked perfectly and yet on the day Sally felt boated and distended in the gut within the first 80 minutes of the swim. Trouble was brewing. We had to switch over to slightly fizzy coke in the hope to remove some of the “blockage” through belching and whilst this was a short-term success, danger is always going to be just around the corner when the only source of fuel you’re able to take on board is simple sugars like a fizzy drink. Ultimately you start to run low on fuel and your core body temperature will be the first thing to start to drop as you struggle to replenish what you are burning off. In 21ºC of water with a lean build, there’s only one direction that is going to head - dangerously close towards hypothermia. Not a good outcome. 

Literally at the first drink stop just 30 minutes in, Sally was asking for hot tea to counteract this issue and I had a good idea then that we might be in a tad of bother later on.

Shoulder Niggles

Swimming 19.7km is always going to be hard on the body - I’ve never done this particular swim without feeling some degree of discomfort and unease in my shoulders, but when your body has been working overly hard because it’s a) cold and b) lacking energy, things are just going to get compounded and with 5km to go, that’s precisely what happened to Sally. Once the ability to maintain a consistent stroke and rhythm is gone, you’re not talking about dropping off your pace by 3-5” per 100m, but most likely in the region of 20+” per 100m. Even at 12-13km we were still on target for ~6h10m into Rottnest (despite the first 12km not being stellar anyway), but once that shoulder pain kicks in, it’s all about survival.

It was a very uncomfortable position to be in: friend, coach and avid fan to someone whom you love and cherish and work with on a daily basis only to have to shout them on and encourage them to try to make it to the island, often against their protestations. I was taking ages to make a decision on simple things like what to do for the next feed stop, should we attempt to lift the pace etc - all because I knew how close to that fine-line of potential catastrophe we were treading. I admire those who do this supporting role on a regular basis (especially on the colder marathon swims around the world) and it’s given me a whole new perspective on the sport without a doubt. How do you know when to say “enough is enough - this is getting a little worrisome!” - I’m not sure I fully know the answer to that, even after Saturday. I was just using my gut instinct I guess and luckily, despite the fact that when Sally made it to the island in a still very commendable 6h38m and was taken away by the medical staff and treated for actual hypothermia with a core body temperature of 31.4ºC, we made it.

All’s you can do, is all’s you can do

There were two people in the squad who we openly discussed the concern of hypothermia prior to the swim and that was Sally and also Kirk. Both did everything they could to be in the best possible shape for this event, but sadly both feel like they have under-performed with times around the 6h30m marker, compared to those they’ve been racing with all season who finished on Saturday around the 6h00m marker. That’s not to belittle the efforts of those who did race well at the weekend (far from it - I’m super proud of you all, as you know and as we discussed over 1 or 3 beers on Saturday afternoon / evening!!), nor to make excuses for Sally and Kirk, merely to lay out the bare facts, some people cope well in cold water, others don’t. We can all improve this aspect of our preparation and when I think back 3 months to a rather concerned conversation with Sally were we both agreed that we’d need the water to be warmer than 23ºC to have a proper crack at this event (or even just finish!), for it to be 2ºC colder and still to make it across there speaks massive volumes about both swimmers and way more than a simple time against their name will ever do. 

At the end of the day, they made it to Rottnest, pure and simple. Yes, there will be disappointment (of course, we’re all competitive people after all and we feel we deserve a good result for the hard work that we incessantly put in), but when the weeks turn into months and the months, years, the biggest disappointment for all concerned will be that on Saturday 22nd February whilst many raved about how conducive the conditions were to fast times, there will be a few who didn’t have the greatest experience and yet they triumphed none-the-less.


People always ask me “how long did it take you to swim the English Channel - it must have been pretty quick given that you won Manhattan…?” and I always answer “12h14m” and have to resist the urge to say “yeah, but…” knowing in my heart of hearts that if the conditions had been in my favour and the stars had aligned and Mercury was romancing with Venus etc etc I would have swum in excess of 3 hours quicker than that…but I didn’t, and I can’t change that, just like I couldn’t change the conditions on the day to suit myself better. It was what it was and my time is what it is. End of story. But that’s the real beauty about these challenges isn’t it? Like Forrest Gump once said:

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!”


So, whether you had a good race or a bad race at the weekend, or if you did or didn’t finish the event, you know what, it’s the training and preparation and what you’ve learnt about yourself along the way that really counts, as cliché as that sounds. I for one, could not be more proud and thrilled for one of my best mates to have completed the swim against all the adversity that she experienced herself that day despite the frustration of being unable to understand in the short-term why it hadn’t panned out as we hoped. I am so, so proud of you Sal and want you to know that everyone else is too - you succeeded by making it across there, the time is totally irrelevant given the circumstances.

Cheers

Paul