Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This weekend, paddling and a 10km Relay Event!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're having a cracking week. I've been getting some funny looks on the pool deck this week with my granddad socks and sandals - apparently I look every bit the Pom but I just can't bear to get my feet cold on the chilly mornings...and no, I haven't heard of closed-toe shoes! ;-)

OK, so this weekend we have the following things going on:

  • Saturday = 1pm squad swim at Claremont Pool - focusing on open water skills and drafting etc - this is always a top session, so if you can make it down, please do!
  • Sunday = again we're looking for paddlers to assist the Channel swim crew...this week we're planning a little 16km adventure from Mosman Park to the Bell Tower along the Swan River and we would dearly love it if anyone could assist us with some paddling support this week. Time of departure is likely to be ~6.15am - please let me know if you're keen??!!
  • Monday = due to the Public Holiday, the 7am and 9.30am sessions today will be cancelled, we'll resume as normal at Tuesday's 5.30am session.

More Paddling Fun:

On the 26th June the 8 of us who are preparing for our respective Channel Swim attempts will need to complete a 6hr cold water swim in the Swan River to qualify for the event. Shelley Taylor-Smith will be the coach in charge and will help us sign-off on this necessary qualifying step. We are desperately seeking some equally mad paddlers to assist on the day, even if you can't stay for the full 6 hours. It'll probably be cold, it'll probably be gloomy and you can bet your last dollar it'll be very steady and potentially a tad boring for a paddler (I'm not really selling it, am I?!) but it'll be helping us in our quest for raising money for the Breast Cancer Care Foundation through our website www.channeldare.com and any assistance would be massively appreciated. Also, anyone keen to come down and simply offer some moral support (even if its whilst walking the dog), then we'd really love that too! Please let me know if you'd be keen in any capacity. Thanks!

The 10km Relay Challenge at Claremont Pool:

On Sunday 10th July we are proposing to run a 10km relay event where teams of 4 to 8 will complete 100 x 100m efforts in a relay fashion whilst the 8 of us preparing for the Channel event will try and "race" you as we cover the distance solo!! We are looking for 6 teams of 4 to 8 to participate and again help us raise money for Breast Cancer Care. if you're currently searching for a bit of challenge to keep you motivated this winter - this might be it! No need to reply to this one just yet, but details to follow soon! Start getting your teams together now!



P.S one other weird(ish) request is that we're looking for some accommodation (preferably a large house close to Claremont) that can be rented for the nights of 24th September to 8th October (inclusive) and will sleep 4 to 8 people. We're inviting a s select bunch of the coaches that we've worked with in the UK over to Perth in this time frame to do a further 2 weeks work shadowing with us and need to look into accommodation options for them. If anyone has any ideas (even if it's motel / hotel ideas or a house a little way out of Claremont) please let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paddlers needed this Sunday if available?

Dear Crew

Very excited about my first session back tomorrow (Friday) so hope to see some of you then!

Also, Saturday afternoon's 1-2pm squad session at Claremont Pool will be a drafting "ripper" - make sure you're there if you can make it!

Sunday - we're seeking 2-3 paddlers for our Sunday swim in the river for the English Channel crew. We'll be meeting at Claremont Jetty at 6.15am for a 6.30am start (so it'll be still a little dark and worth bringing some lights) and will be swimming for ~3hrs. If anyone can assist for some / all of it - please let me know by replying to this email. Thanks!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sincerest apologies from Adam re. Friday morning...

Dear Swimmers

I send my sincerest apologies from over here in the UK due to the lack of coaching cover in place on Friday morning's 5.30am and 6.30am sessions. Whilst I have been informed that you experienced some horrendous weather that morning, this was not the reason for the absence of a coach on pool deck. 

Unfortunately Coach Adam and his young daughter suffered a severe bout of gastro on Thursday night / Friday morning and despite us having put a system of cover in place in the eventuality of a coach not being able to attend a session, this all came on at ~3am on Friday morning and sadly was too short notice to arrange a replacement coach at that point. Adam reportedly passed out after being violently sick, so we do sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this caused any of you. I am told that the session was already up on the board from Wednesday's 9.30am session with Sandy and that those few who did brave the conditions chose to follow this. Nice work!

We do absolutely pride ourselves on the consistency and reliability of our squad sessions down at Claremont Pool and whilst this situation could not have been avoided on this occasion I do appreciate that you may have travelled some distance to be at the session and were probably at least a little miffed to not have a coach there ready and waiting to take you through your weekly "Fresh & Fruity" challenge. Rest assured this will not happen again.

If anyone does have any feedback or comments they would like to add, please feel free to contact me directly at swimsmooth@me.com and I'll do my best to address these direct.

On a brighter note, here's me this morning with dual Olympic Gold Medallist and World Record holder in the women's 800m freestyle Rebecca Adlington after we did some filming and analysis of her stroke for a charity event in aid of the Marie Curie Cancer Research Fund. All I can say is "wow!" what an amazing stroke and superb experience for me and Adam - without doubt a huge highlight of not only this trip but my whole coaching career!

...and here's Adam with another celebrity, Louis Theroux - investigative journalist and general funny man - Adam's hero:



Friday, May 20, 2011

Open water swimming - UK style!!

Dear Team

Well, with just 3 days to go before I fly back to Perth on Monday, I thought I'd drop you a line to let you know how things have been going over here in the UK this last two weeks. It's been pretty full on from both a work and training for the English Channel perspective, but has been a lovely change and I'd like to thank you all for personally allowing me this 3 week period to go and spread the Swim Smooth word further with Adam. I do really hope you've enjoyed working with all the varied coaches that we have put in place in my absence and I look forward to catching up with you all upon my return to the squad next week. My first session back will be Friday 27th May for your reference but I'll see some of you before that at Shelley's session on Wednesday.


It's been a monster schedule, but as I sit here writing this we have just two full 1-day Clinics to go and both of these are at the same venue in Hillingdon, NW London. So it's 8 down, 2 to go!

We've been literally all over the UK, starting off in the Midlands, then up to North Wales, into Yorkshire and Lancashire, then up to Scotland and back down to London via York and Oxford. We've met many great people along the way and have now put a total of 48 independent coaches through our 3-day Coaches Education Courses, essentially teaching them our techniques, specifically within video analysis and stroke correction. You'll all get to meet a dozen or so of these coaches when they travel over to Perth in October to participate in an intensive 2 weeks of further work shadowing with us.

We will have put 120 swimmers through their paces by the time we get back to Perth next week and have seen a fascinating range of styles too! We will be meeting a very special swimmer on Saturday as part of a charity event in London that we have been asked to attend in aid of the Marie Curie Cancer research group, but that's all I am permitted to say at this point I'm afraid! ;-)

Here's some photos of us with some of the coaches and swimmers:

...and here's me pretending to be Mel Gibson at the William Wallace (Braveheart) memorial in Stirling last weekend - they may take our lives, but they'll ne'er take our freeeeeedom!!!!


As soon as we landed in the UK I was straight over to the Loughborough Pool where all the top British swimmers train in order to maintain my Channel swimming fitness whilst away from the plentiful pools of Perth. I managed to get in a good number of sessions in between the courses that first week and with the coaches on our courses too, which was great.

It was then "oooppp north" to Yorkshire and North Wales where I had an invite from a good friend and north of England Triathlon Officer Morgan Williams to try out his Blue Lagoon open water swimming venue in Doncaster. Given the location I expected it to be more of a Murky Puddle than a Blue Lagoon, but I could not have been more wrong! This disused limestone quarry was the freshest water I have ever swum in and at ~13 degrees was great for an 8km session followed around by Morgan on his ski paddle.

The next day I had a very funny and embarrassing experience at a pool in sunny Bolton when I decided to hit the pool for a quick couple of K's whilst Adam was packing up the car. The pool was busy and very noisy when I strode out in my bright pink bathers, only to have three lifeguards rush over to me and usher me back into the change-rooms as I was just about to unwittingly gatecrash their weekly Ladies Only session. Adam says I should have told them that Pam had ordered me as their entertainment for the evening! You have to laugh about these things I guess!

Up in Scotland it was a little trickier to get in some quality training given that the pools restrict the numbers in their lanes to 6 up there and as such I had to intermittently get out of the pool to let other swimmers in. A little frustrating. After taking PRO triathlete and 2010 UK Ironman winner Fraser Cartmell for a stroke correction session in the University pool though, I did manage to knock out a rather enjoyable session with the coaches similar in structure to our good old Saturday 1pm session. I had alongside me Aidan Mullans (former Irish international swimmer with a 15'25" 1500m PB to his name) who gave me a good whopping over the short sprints. It was a lot of fun.

Upon leaving Scotland we could not pass up an opportune moment to hop into the Fourth of Firth for a quick dip - it was freeeeeeezzzzzzing!!! 7-8 degrees and no wetsuit!! I didn't last long, but here's the temperature contour to prove it:

It's funny, as two hours later we stopped in at a pool in Darlington where I used to race quite frequently as a young teenager and the training pool temperature was over 30 degrees - yuk! You can't get much more of a contrast than that!

This morning we drove down to Marlow and I hopped into the Thames whilst Adam walked alongside me on the bridal path for morale support. I'd guestimate that it was ~13 degrees in there, but it was a beautiful experience, see why here:

So, I'm now back at the hotel tapping this out after a second swim today at the unheated outdoor pool at the venue we're using this weekend for our last two clinics. It was certified today as being 14.6 degrees in the lovely art deco 50m lido and I had no worries whatsoever staying in. This was a massive confidence booster as have all the other really cold swims that I have done. So whilst I might have traded off a bit of by endurance and fitness with not getting as much volume and intensity in, hopefully I've made it up with some excellent cold water adaptation and some great pie eating opportunities allowing me to pork up as you see in this picture in the cold pool:

On Monday, I'll have my final cold water swim with Dr Greg Whyte, Olympian and coach to the Little Britain comedian David Walliams. We'll be hopping in the Thames again and I'm hoping that he'll be able to tell me how close to my optimal porkiness I am now for my Channel attempt on the 5th September 2011 - 15 weeks to go!

I'd just like to formally thank everyone who's made this trip such a success and particular thanks go out to all the coaches who've been hard at work running my sessions for me in Perth and also to our newest member of the Swim Smooth team, Francene, for liaising and keeping me up to speed with everything whilst I've been away. 

Lastly, thanks to Adam for being such a great support, top notch business partner and most of all great mate! We've had a blast!



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Busselton Results

Dear Team

Whilst I was gutted to have not been down in Busselton this last weekend for the 2011 Busselton Half Ironman, I've received some great reports back about how people went at the race. 

All told, we had 46 members of the swim squad racing down in Busselton, with a very notable result coming from Guy Crawford in the PRO wave who had the fastest swim split of the day and 1200+ competitors and then went onto record a staggering 2:08 bike split, leading onto the run and eventually finishing 6th overall. A mightily impressive result! How did he do it? Well, his albatross-like arms may have helped somewhat - see:

Also check out Guy's race report and photos here:

Apparently the swim conditions were a little lumpy out there. This is what Guy had to say about how he modified his stroke based on a 1-2-1 session we did together 3 weeks ago:

"I lifted my head heaps so my feet were a bit lower in the water..., tryed to increase my stroke rate and concentrated on my hands.... 3 things.. Hands, feet, stroke rate and i felt awesome.. i was swimming hard, but ready to go if some-one came round me.. just had that extra gear... Bryan Rhodes sat on my feet for the whole swim..."

Guy is a bit of a Kicktastic / Smooth which means that in a wetsuit he has a tendency to feel a little too high at the back and feels a slight loss in coordination and power from his kick if the wetsuit lifts him too high out of the water. In an email from Shelley Taylor-Smith who raced as part of a charity team, she also commented that her wetsuit made her incredibly buoyant. For these super-star swimmers, there is a danger of having too much buoyancy in a wetsuit and as such they have to adjust their strokes accordingly. For Guy this meant looking a further forward to bring his legs down a bit. He also elevated his stroke rate to give more fluidity and rhythm to his normally very long stroke which helped in the lumpy waters. 

Anna-lee Hazell also had a fantastic swim to come out of the water in 26 minutes and record a big PB. Whilst Anna-lee thinks of her stroke as being somewhat "silly" and high tempo, it is very well suited to rougher open water conditions. Like Shelley, Anna-lee swims with what we affectionately call the Swinger style, as is the case with most of the world's top open water and triathlon swimmers.

Whilst these guys often feel that the wetsuit lifts them a little too high, three swimmers from the squad in particular had great swims because of the lift that they gave them: Stuart Murray (35 mins), Mark Dutton (38 mins) and Darryn Sargant (41 mins). Just two weeks ago we looked at Darryn's stroke in the pool with and without his Blue Seventy Axis wetsuit and the results were staggering: 23 seconds per 100m (!) faster in the suit!! This equates to being +7 mins faster in the suit over the Half Ironman distance, which is a tremendous effort. All three swimmers have a little bit of Arnie in them, meaning that they gain massive amounts from the floatation of a wetsuit to help overcome their normally sinky legs.

Everyone's results from the squad can now be seen here:

...and if you'd like the Excel version, go to:

...as this contains the HTML links to each athlete (by clicking on their name) so as to see their full splits including transitions and also their individual race photos.

Enjoy and see you all soon!


P.S The Clinics over here are going exceedingly well thanks. 4 down and 6 to go...we're even managing to get a good bit of our own training in too which is a bonus!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Channel Dare Movie Night

English Channel Dare For Breast Cancer Care
Please come and help our raise money for Breast Cancer Care WA, by joining us for the screening of
Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides  in 3D!
Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffry Rush and Perth model Gemma Ward!
Friday 27th May
At Ace Cinemas 500 Hay Street Subiaco
Complimentary wine and cheese from 5.30pm followed by the movie commencing at 6.30pm
Tickets are $25 and can be pre purchased from one of the swimmers, or by internet transfer and collection on the night upon supllying recipt of transfer.
Ceinwen Williams
BSB: 066112
Hope to see you there, thankyou for your support!