I hope you've had a great Christmas break and are set for a great New Year! We've had a truly magnificent time down here in Esperance and whilst I came close to pondering buying the Esperance Tea Rooms (an awesome spot for Fish & Chips washed down with a Little Creatures) which are for sale currently, I will however be back on pool deck at 5.30am on Tuesday 3rd January! All sessions will proceed as normal then past this point.
I'm well rested and pumped for the new year and can't wait to get you started on our 10 week development plan. We'll commence this from the week beginning Monday 9th January so as to give you this week to get back into the swing of things. No panic either though if you'll still be away for the first couple of weeks of the program, you'll be able to easily slot back into things upon your return.
I have to thank all of you who gave me your tips for where to go in Esperance - they were great. In particular Michael S's suggestion of a trip out to Wharton's Bay (past the Duke of Orleans) - a simply amazing beach, complete with very large white pointer sighting whilst we were there (!) - and to Bill C for his suggestion of a boat ride out to Woody Island. Our favourite beach has to be Hellfire Bay in Cape le Grand - for those of you non-native 'poms' and expats yet to travel down to Esperance - you simply have to go here! The beach is out of this world and we had an awesome BBQ breakie cooked by yours truly down there yesterday.
Thought I'd leave you with a few photos to whet your appetite...we have 2 days left before flying home on Monday morning. I'll be sad to leave but feel totally privileged to have experienced such an amazing place at a very special time of year with my family.
Cheers and Happy New Year for tomorrow!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Please note - if you'd prefer not to read this year review of the Swim Smooth Perth Squad and just want to know about Christmas and New Year training times and session suggestions, please visit: http://swimsmoothperth.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-and-ny-swim-training.html
I'm sure you're all gearing up for a great Christmas - I know I am very much looking forward to a bit of R&R down on the beaches of Esperance! And what a year it's been hey?!
We ended 2011 moving back to the newly refurbished Claremont Pool which saw a marvellous improvement to the centre. Whenever we show photos of the pool to our Swim Smooth Clinic attendees back in the UK they all turn green with envy! Really, we're very lucky to have such a brilliant facility right on our doorstep with some fantastic staff assisting us with the program. I feel very privileged to be doing what I love in a venue with such great ambience.
Soon after we were back at Claremont it was a case of putting our heads down and getting into the 2011 Rottnest Channel Swim program which saw us getting nearly 40 solo swimmers across the line in February and countless duo and team swimmers too. Sadly, it seems that whilst we'll have a massive contingent again from the solo brigade for 2012, many of the duo and team swimmers have missed out in the ballot this year which is a huge shame.
After the Rottnest Channel Swim, the focus immediately shifted to the Busselton Half Ironman event in May where we saw some very strong performances from members of the Swim Smooth Perth squad, not least the brilliant swim performance of our very own 'Mr Smooth' (Guy Crawford) posting the fastest swim split of the day. It's such a great event and the fact that the 2012 race filled completely within 2 hours shows just how popular it's becoming here in WA. It seems that there's no limit to the number of people wishing to complete these hugely rewarding endurance events.
In May, myself and Adam were back in the UK running our fourth round of our 3-day Swim Smooth Coaches Education courses which, to date, has now seen a total of 48 budding coaches from the US, Canada, mainland Europe and the UK sit the course which aims to help coaches improve their own video analysis and stroke correction skills. It's been a roaring success and something which helped us secure the contract to consult and rewrite the entire swim coaching program for the British Triathlon Federation (BTF). Each year, 350 new coaches become accredited BTF coaches, all of whom will now be educated in the same methods that you all receive on a daily basis here in Perth - pretty cool hey?! We went on to select 8 of these coaches to then fly out to Perth at the end of September for 2 weeks of intensive training with the squad. These eight excellent coaches will be our first officially accredited Swim Smooth Coaches in the UK and will be announced at the start of March 2012. It's been a mammoth amount of work (and continues to be as we help mentor them in our techniques and for them to grow their own respective businesses) but something that has been personally very exciting and rewarding at the same time.
Through June, July and August there were some pretty 'wooly' weather days in Perth, but that didn't stop the dedication of the 'Channel Dare' team braving water temperatures as low as 13ºC for up to 6 hours at a time and often in the pitch black. Yes, seven of us in the squad were insane enough to consider tackling the English Channel this year and these conditions proved to make excellent preparation for us. People still ask me, 'did you ever get bored training for such a long event?' and the answer is always a categorical 'no' - the uniqueness of gaining (significant) weight for a sporting event, swimming in freezing temperatures in the middle of the night and for progressively longer distances whilst totally lathered up in wool fat is never boring! My actual swim on the 9th September 2011 will always be my greatest ever sporting and personal achievement I'm sure, but it was the camaraderie and support of not just the other six swimmers in the team but also all of your support and interest in the squad that really made this a very special time for me. I'm actually really missing it right now it has to be said!
I have just found out too that the Channel Swim Association have actually recognised the fact that my swim on the 9th September was completed in the worst conditions this entire year in the fastest time too! I'm very happy to know this! ;-) Also, only 38 soloists made it across to France this year - six of whom were from the Swim Smooth Perth squad. Nice.
I am hoping that if nothing else that the efforts of the 'Channel Dare' team this year and the $70,000+ that we raised for Breast Cancer Care will have inspired some more of you to tackle your own 'English Channels' in the future. It's absolutely brilliant coaching the Wednesday 5.30am squad at the moment as I can see this same buzz growing around the group of Rottnest Solo 'Virgins' in this session. It's amazing what you can achieve with a shared goal amongst friends...all you've got to do is keep ticking along and focusing on the process of the 'here and now' and not on the seemingly scary nature of the 'outcome'. One stroke at a time, then one lap at a time, one kilometre, one session, one week, one month etc etc - never looking too far forward, always concentrating on the 'now'. If you believe in yourself now (and you should) you will get across to Rottnest. The hardest part is motivating yourself for the seemingly relentless training. Turn your brain off, do your first 30 strokes without thinking about it, and before you know it you're halfway through the session. Easy - sort of! I read the world-renowned Channel swimmer and Aussie icon Des Renford's book just before I swam the English Channel and he referenced a quote in there which always helped him and arguably played a massive factor in getting me across to France - 'the darkest hour still only has 60 minutes'. Remember that the next time you're having an off session.
After the Channel Swim it was quickly back to Perth for the birth of my second child and first daughter, baby Isla Rose. And what a cutie she is! Having two children definitely changes things for sure (as those of you with multiple kids warned me it would!) but I'm very proud to be a daddy for the second time. 2012 is Michelle's year to shine as she takes on the Rottnest Swim as a duo with her friend Karlee - I'll be sidelined for this one but cheering them on madly with Jackson and Isla in tow!
And if all this wasn't enough for a year, we've also managed to find time to write our very first book too! I'm not obliged to release too many details at this point but suffice to say we were approached by the world's largest and most established book publishing company of academia to write a book on swimming technique using our methods. They contacted us in April this year and complete with a full advance we set to work feverishly bringing together everything that we have been working on since 2004 when I first launched Swim Smooth. This has been a hugely rewarding process for me and I'm so happy with the final draft that we submitted. There were countless nights in the last few months where myself and Adam would work straight through the night to then have to be down on the pool deck each morning for a 5.30am start. Very tiring of course but with the light at the end of the tunnel being our first published piece of work due in May 2012, all being well. Adam called it a 'period of pain' that we just had to press through, but sure enough we got there one step at a time. I just can't wait to share this with you all once it's published.
Of course there was then the Busselton Ironman in December in which last year's winner, Kate Bevilaqua, swam 4.5 minutes quicker than 2010 when most people swam 2-3 minutes slower given the tough conditions. You may have heard me talk about how we have helped Kate with her stroke over the last 18 months and much of this has been by going against some of the 'conventions' which many believe form an efficient freestyle stroke. Kate now excels with a shorter, faster stroke with a forward looking head position and a straighter arm recovery. These recommendations are based on her natural physique and excellent natural body position in the water which used to mean that swimming in a wetsuit was quite arduous as her legs would pop up too high out of the water. Hard to believe, I know, especially for those of you with sinky leg syndrome! Is this the right advice for you too? Maybe not, but without going against the 'grain' with Kate she might forever be playing catch-up with the lead females. I'm very proud to now see a swimmer with excellent potential for further improvements. From this work with Kate, and with Kate and Guy Crawford's assistance, we have now set up an elite group of ten of WA's best professional and semi-pro Ironman athletes with whom we will work closely with over the next 12 months to see if we can also help them reach ever higher with their goals.
So all up it's been a pretty busy but very exciting year, none of which would have been possible without your help and support by attending the squad sessions on a regular basis. I am so lucky to be doing what I'm doing and to know that you are enjoying this is a great reward in itself. I have mates back in the UK who are earning the big bucks in the 'City' who frequently email me saying that they're bored / fat / stressed / burnt-out (or all of the above) and always at this point I have to pinch myself in my 'office' on the pool deck on a lovely spring morning with the scent of eucalyptus in the air and the sound of a kookaburra singing his song from the tree...ok, so not every morning is like that and the 4.20am wake-ups are tough, but I just can't wait to have 10 days off now with my family down in beautiful Esperance and to come back totally refreshed and brimming with new ideas for taking your swimming to the next level in 2012!
Maybe over the Christmas break you might even like to consider your own next goal...would love to hear about it when I'm back.
Have a great Christmas everyone and a massively prosperous 2012! Thanks again for all your support, we really appreciate it.
Paul, Michelle, Jackson and Isla Rose.
As mentioned previously, this Friday (23rd December) will be our last day of squad swimming for 10 days, recommencing with all sessions as normal from Tuesday 3rd January 2012.
I am sure that some of you will be keen to keep things ticking over whilst I am away in Esperance and as such I have compiled a list of suggestions per day which will ideally suit those doing the Rottnest Channel Swim, especially the soloists. Of course, not everyone is keen to swim in the ocean at the moment, so these are purely suggestions. You can check out Claremont Pool's Christmas and New Year opening hours at: http://www.claremont.wa.gov.au/Libraries/ContentDocs/2011_to_2012_1.sflb.ashx
The good news soloists is that I've scheduled next week as a recovery week anyway - you've worked hard the last 3-4 weeks, so don't be afraid to cut back a little over the Christmas period - a bit of light R&R will serve you well, both mentally and physically. 18km total for next week was the recommendation.
If you're not doing this event, but want to just keep ticking over, by all means follow these suggestions but reduce some of the volume to more naturally represent a normal session of 2.5-3.2km. I hope this helps!
- Friday 23rd December - 5.30am and 6.30am sessions - come along for some Festive Fresh & Fruitiness - guaranteed to be a lot of fun! 9.30am swimmers will have more of a relaxing session given that you already worked off the mince pies this morning!
- Saturday 24th December - pool session as: 3 x 2km at 3km pace with 2 mins recovery between each, followed up by a straight 4km steady swim in the river, ocean, or if you're really keen, pool!
- Sunday 25th December - day off! Enjoy! OR a 7.30am splash in the sea at Cottesloe Beach with Jasmin and Co. followed by breakie on the beach.
- Monday 26th December - 2km drills session as 500m easy w/up and cool down plus 20 x 50m as the odd number drills with fins (i.e. side kick, 6/1/6, Broken Arrow etc) and the even numbers as 25m fast + 25m easy.
- Tuesday 27th December - 10 x 400m at a good, sustainable pace with just 30s rest between each. Knock this out succinctly in just over an hour or so - a really 'boring' but really 'good' set for you soloists!
- Wednesday 28th December - 500m easy f/s + 3 x 200m drills with fins + 500m moderate f/s + 6 x 100m pull and optional paddles + 500m moderately hard f/s + 12 x 50m as 25m fast + 25m easy for first 8 and last 4 as choice cool down with 15s rest between each.
- Thursday 29th December - rest day
- Friday 30th December - 1000m steady f/s warm-up with some light stretching beforehand, then simply 20 x 100m on a 1.30 cycle for those normally in the fastest group of lane 4, 1.35 cycle for those normally in the second group in lane 4, 1.40 cycle for those normally in lane 3, 1.45 cycle for those in lane 2 and 1.55 cycle for those normally in lane 1. Finish off with 5 x 200m of easy drills using a mix of fins and pull / optional paddles. Aim to hold your fastest maintainable pace in the 20 x 100m set.
- Saturday 31st December - 5km steady swim at Cottesloe Beach, or in the pool (broken down as 5 x 1km with 60s rest between each)
- Sunday 1st January - rest day, or 'hangover' dip in the ocean!
- Monday 2nd January - repeat Monday 26/12 but add in 6 x 200m at the end at 'threshold' pace with 30s rest between each.
- Tuesday 3rd January - all sessions (5.30am, 6.30am and 6.30pm) back to normal and ready for our 10-week progressive improvement plan - exciting stuff!
Hope this all helps add a bit of structure - by all means add a little 'spice' to some of the basic set suggestions - we'll pick things up in the first week of January 2012, so be ready!
Have a great Christmas!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Hope you all survived the storm last night!
As those of you who attended Tuesday morning's 5.30am and 6.30am sessions would have seen, I was testing out a new iPhone app this morning on the pool deck which allowed me to clock the lane leader's 100 splits and then transfer this data into a chart as per: http://swimsmooth.com/pauls_images/Pacing_Data_13_12_2011.pdf allowing me to check how well paced your lane was, even whilst using the beepers. This app (Split Watch) was great to use and will be perfect for any future time trials that we do.
This morning's session has also prompted a few ideas for a new challenge first thing in the new year - a 10 week CSS (threshold) development program to allow you all to see if you can get 6-7.5% (or more) faster over 1000m within 10 weeks. For a geek like me this is exciting stuff and will use the new beepers to their full capacity! I don't know about you, but I can't wait! We'll commence this in the first week in January 2012.
Speaking of Christmas / New Year, the squad will be taking a break from Friday 23rd December (last session being the 9.30am to 10.30am session that day, plus the 5.30am and 6.30am sessions of course!) to Tuesday 3rd January 2012 (recommencing with all sessions as normal from 5.30am on Tuesday 3rd January 2012). We'll personally be taking a family holiday down in Esperance - can't wait, I've never been!
For those seeking to keep their swimming going for this 10 day hiatus, I will post out some session ideas next week - stay tuned.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Please be advised that regrettably we have been advised to cancel the 6.30-7.30pm squad session this evening, Tuesday 6th December 2011 due to the severe thunderstorm affecting the metro area right now. The pool has been closed since ~10.30am this morning due to the risk that swimming in an electrical storm outdoors poses to swimmers and is unlikely to re-open before closing time this evening. Our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience. If you wanted to do the session (indoors somewhere or later this week) it was:
- 2, 3 or 400 easy f/s
- 3 x 200m +15s rest as 1) fins - 6/1/6 + f/s, 2) pull and paddles, 3) 6/5/6 + f/s
- 1000m continuous f/s swim at 75-80%
- 3 x 200m +15s rest as 1) fins - Broken Arrow + f/s, 2) pull as 15m doggy + 85m f/s, 3) torpedo kick + f/s
- 2, 3 or 400 easy f/s
We have our fingers crossed that the sessions at 5.30am and 9.30am tomorrow morning (Wednesday) will still proceed as normal, but again, these may be cancelled at short notice if the lightening is still about. Generally speaking thunder is OK, so long as not accompanied by lightening.
I will post a bulletin tomorrow morning at 5am on the Blog at http://swimsmoothperth.blogspot.com/ if the sessions will be cancelled, otherwise please assume they'll be on and please come along if you can - we have two great sessions lined up for you!!!
P.S well done to some great results at the Busselton Ironman from members of the Swim Smooth squad on Sunday...full details to follow later this week, but massive congratulations to Janine Willis, Ron Sammut and Oystein Grande all of whom qualified for Hawaii 2012! Awesome - I'm in awe of you guys!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Please be advised that the following sessions will still all be running as usual this weekend, despite the Ironman and the Swim Thru Rottnest being on (which can incidentally be entered here: http://www.swimthrurotto.com/):
- Friday 5.30am, 6.30am, 9.30am
- Saturday 1pm
- Monday 7am, 9.30am
...Francene will be coaching the Saturday and Monday sessions whilst we take the weekend off down in Yallingup and the Ironman event.
Have a good one!