Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Dear Swimmers

Wow! What a year! Hasn't time flown?! It seems like just yesterday I was concocting the January 10 Week CSS Development program and yet here we are, nearly 12 months on - incredible!

I would like to formally thank each and every one of you for supporting the Swim Smooth Perth Squad over the past 12 months - without you support and commitment I wouldn't have a group to deliver to and effectively be living my dream of teaching and coaching a vast array of people to swim faster, swim with more enjoyment and of course to Swim Smooth! 

Now, as you know, back at the start of October, Coach Emma and Coach Alan joined us from the UK for an intensive 2-week Swim Smooth Certification course. At the end of the two week period, Alan had to return home to his family, but Emma chose to stay on and will be with us until the end of February. Her help on pool deck has been truly phenomenal - I dare say I would not have coped by myself with the increase in demand. I'm sure you'll all join me in saying a big "thank you" to Emma on Friday morning at the last squad session of the year!

Emma has compiled this short Bio on herself for your interest and information and to show you what she does over in the UK on beautiful Lake Windemere (pictured above):

Christmas and New Year Training Hours:

As a reminder, the last sessions of 2012 will be on Friday 21st December - all three squads (5.35am, 6.35am and 9.30am) will run as normal and will have a festive theme - so make sure you bring your happy faces with you and some festive spirit! The first session back in the New Year will be on Wednesday 2nd January at 5.30am - a perfect way to get back into the swing of things for those doing the open water season, Rottnest and of course the triathlon season too!

Suggested Informal Schedule over the holidays:

For those of you keen to crack on with some training over the holiday period, may I suggest the following (this is just a template, there are more than a few sub-groups within the squad at the moment, each of whom are likely to adjust the times of this program to suit - keep your eyes / ears open for any variations):

  • Saturday 22nd December - meet at Claremont Jetty at 7am for a 7.15am start* - use the 2km out & back loop and cover 4 to 12km depending on your program
  • Sunday 23rd December - day off or easy swim at Claremont Jetty of 2 to 5km.
  • Monday 24th December - challenge yourself to The Red Mist Set
  • Tuesday 25th December - meet at Claremont Jetty at 7am for a 7.15am start* - the 10km Christmas Challenge!
  • Wednesday 26th December - day off or easy swim at Claremont Jetty of 2 to 5km.
  • Thursday 27th December - do a warm-up of ~1-1.5km including a variety of drills and then do the Goldilocks Set
  • Friday 28th December - try this easy Stroke Contrast Set to hone your technique
  • Saturday 29th December - meet at Claremont Jetty at 7am for a 7.15am start* - use the 2km out & back loop and cover 4 to 12km depending on your program
  • Sunday 30th December - day off or easy swim at Claremont Jetty of 2 to 5km.
  • Monday 31st December - challenge yourself to The Red Mist Set (try 1s per 100m faster at each level than last week)
  • Tuesday 1st January - have a go at this Pace Awareness set and see how you fair

*please note, and earlier group has been meeting for this at 5.30am for a 5.45am start for those who wish to get the swim done and dusted a little earlier.

I hope this is useful for you. I would like to wish you and all of your families a splendid Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Here's to 2013!

Paul, Mish, Jackson and Isla Rose x

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rottnest Nutrition Ideas

Dear Swimmers,

Well we are now into Week 11 of 21 of our Rottnest Channel Swim campaign and for the Solo guys and girls in particular the weekly volume and long swims are really starting to ramp up!

Around this time each year, many of you start to turn your focus towards nutrition. When the volume is on the low side at the start of the program you (like me) have probably been surviving your workouts with basic things like water and bananas etc and whilst some of the worlds best athletes do tick along on basic nutrition too, most will opt for something a little more advance to keep them going.

If you're going to be doing this type of volume in training, it makes sense to fuel yourself as effectively as possible to sustain your effort during each session, but also to allow you to recover quickly enough to consistently back your sessions up time and time again - and as we all know, consistency is key!

I've experimented with practically every product on the market with my favorite strategy up until now being:

2km swim + 250ml of Gatorade from a Pop-Tots bottle (this ensures you can quickly and easily get that amount in you without wastage)

2km swim + either 250ml water (or Gatorade - if I'm starting to feel the "pinch" a bit - but be warned, some people can become nauseous with a too concentrated hit of carbo drink and gel at the same time - it pays to experiment!) and a GU carbo gel which gives me about 22g of carbohydrates in a small hit

...I then repeat this all the way across to Rottnest (or France!) and have a few less technical food sources with me (ie a Cadbury Boost) just in case I feel like something different!

Speed is very important during your fuel stops - practice getting it in as quickly (but as effectively) as possible with the thought in your head that "whilst I'm stopped, my average speed is slowly slowing" - the swimmer with the fastest average speed gets across to Rottnest the quickest and the really fast guys can take on nutrition in under 10 seconds - crazy!

It might sound pedantic, but you really don't want to be spending any real time chatting to your crew when you've stopped - I come across as being really grumpy when I race (because I'm very short with any conversation) but in fact I'm just trying to get the job done!

So one of the things that I've battled in previous races is trying to avoid big spikes (and dips!) in my blood sugar when I'm doing a long endurance event. I had a friend (who eventually became a Pro cyclist in Europe) announce that he was going to ride home to Derby from Bath in UK during our February "reading week" at University (think freezing temperatures). This was a distance of 150 miles (240km). He was a bit of a geek to be absolutely fair (in the nicest sense!) as he'd worked out that he would be able to average about 18km/h on his fully laden mountain bike (whilst wearing jeans, boots and a lumberjack shirt for warmth - he was about as far removed from being a "Pro" at this point as one could be!) and his calorific expenditure for the proposed 14hr ride would be nicely satisfied with eating something in the magnitude of 17 Mars Bars washed down with 10 small bottles of fizzy Lucozade (like Gatorade but gassy). What James didn't realize was that the high "simple sugars" content of these products would bring on a massive surge in blood sugar followed by a huge crash about 15 minutes later. Needless to say the ride was a disaster! He did make it (in about 18 and a half hours) but I vividly recall a phone call at about the halfway point where James was crying down the phone saying that he'd "bonked" (hit the wall) massively and was so angry with himself for attempting such a stupid thing! We did try and warn him...!!

Of course, we now tend to refer to the sugar content of a carbohydrate source as its "glycaemic index" (or "G.I"). The types of foods that James had were extremely high G.I which caused his massive crash. You've probably heard of some breakfast cereals being advertised as having a low G.I for sustainable energy during the day? Well an innovative new sports nutrition product from South Africa have built their entire product range around the notion of this sustained release of energy, so much so in fact that they've actually branded their name "32Gi" to reflect the lower glycaemic index of their products.

I have been sampling 32Gi's products in the last couple of months and have been literally blown away by their ability to keep me going. This stuff has been a real revolution for me and I put it to the true test this morning with a really hard 10km river swim. I had my best swim of the season and felt like I had perpetual energy the whole way around - no nasty spikes and dips!

Being quite stubborn and a believer in "better the devil you know than the devil you don't" I have been very reluctant in the past to breakaway from my Gatorade formula (as described above) as it has worked so well for me since 2009. In 2004 I started the Busselton Ironman in super fine shape but had to pull out 95km into the ride as weirdly I too felt like I'd hit the wall. The so-called recommended magic recipe of carbs per hour is 1g of carbs per kg body weight per hour, which for me back then (in my stealth body mode) was about 66g per hour. During that race (despite what I had successfully done in training) I decided to keep taking on extra for fear of blowing up. In retrospect I was taking on in excess of 100g per hour (as crazy as that sounds) and this resulted in massive bloating of my gut and the inability to absorb anything further, hence I "blew up".

For me now, my best formula is more in the range of 50-55g per hour (I'm now 75kg), but everyone will be different, hence the need to experiment. My chosen nutrition source going forwards will hence be 32Gi as its given me the confidence to try something else, something better, than what I already thought was pretty good.

Nic Italiano from 32Gi has kindly offered to pop along next Wednesday to our 530am pool session at Claremont Pool to allow those in this long endurance squad to test out some of the products (drink, awesome jelly chews and energy tablets) for free and give them a whirl.

Hope you can make it!



Monday, December 10, 2012

Homestay requests for elite athletes and coaches

Dear Swimmers

Hope you are all well and surviving the rising mercury this afternoon!

As you may or may not be aware, we are starting to do an increasing amount of work with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world over here in sunny Perth, helping them fine-tune their strokes and ensure that they can make the jump to the next level in the swim. As a coach, it's really very exciting indeed!

Currently we have Joel Jameson and his wife Cat over here in Perth training with me for 3 months. Joel recently finished 2nd at the Ironman-distance event in Henley (UK) with a very swift 2h42m marathon off the hilly 180km bike ride - non too shabby! It was one of the fastest marathons in and Iron-distance event this year anywhere in the world. Cat races on the ITU draft-legal circuit and has been the girl in the pink Swim Smooth cap powering up and down the pool lapping even our very fastest swimmers! They've both committed to coming over to Perth for that period, because with a better swim Joel could literally be one of the fastest guys on the Ironman circuit next season - "no pressure Coach Paul!" :-)

Whilst Joel and Cat have been lucky with some fabulous accommodation in South Perth with a friend of Cat's family, this next string of athletes are not quite so lucky and, whilst cheeky, I am hoping that those of you who live relatively close to the Claremont Pool (within say 10 to 15km) and have a spare room to either lease (or even give?) may be interested in helping out with offering some space. 

The life as a Pro triathlete is not as glamorous financially as one might presume and whilst I personally 'sponsor' these guys with zero coaching fees, it is of course the travel and accommodation that really hits the pocket of these cash-strapped athletes. Any help and support you might be able to give would be marvellously appreciated and I dare say you'd be rewarded with a fair share of stories of "life as a Pro" for those of you whom might be interested.

Here's our list for the next six months, no doubt it will continue to grow...

  • Britta Martin (NZ) - just won Busselton Ironman at the weekend with a brilliantly consistent race, needs accommodation from Tuesday 11th December (tomorrow) until Friday 14th December. 3 nights.
  • Coach Fiona Ford (UK) - you met Fiona last year on the Coaches Course. Fiona is also a multiple Age Group winner at Ironman events all around the world and is now one of our 5 Certified Coaches around the world. Fiona needs accommodation from Wednesday 2nd January until Wednesday 9th January 2013. 7 nights.
  • Tom Lowe (UK) - 11th place overall finisher at the Kona Ironman World Championships in 2011 and boyfriend to non other than recently retired four-time World Champion Chrissie Wellington. Tom needs accommodation from Monday 7th January 2013 to mid-March 2013 (10 weeks - happy to split with a couple of houses during this period)
  • Richard Murray (RSA) - 4th place finisher overall in the ITU World Triathlon Series and serious contender in 2013 to the British Brownlee Brothers - this man can 'jog' 10km in under 30 minutes!! Richard needs accommodation from mid-January 2013 for about 2 weeks.
  • Cassie Patten (UK) - 2008 Beijing Olympic Games bronze medallist in the 10km open water swim and soon-to-be Swim Smooth Certified Coach. Cassie needs accommodation from Saturday 9th February 2013 until Thursday 28th February 2013. 3 weeks.
  • Coach Andy Lane (UK) - Andy will be our Welsh-based Swim Smooth Certified Coach and has attended our recent 3-day Coaches Education Course in the UK this August and is a truly wonderful guy with a big background in psychology. Andy needs accommodation from Saturday 9th February 2013 until Thursday 28th February 2013. 3 weeks.
  • Adam Young (UK) - does this man need an introduction?! My business partner in the online who will be out in Perth for ~8 weeks in January (dates TBC) to film some new material for British Triathlon and to take a vacation from the cold British weather they're experiencing at the moment. Adam will also be my main support crew for the Rottnest Channel Swim.

I do hope that someone out there is able to help out and I do appreciate your time and consideration of this matter. Please email me directly at or call 0431540980 if you can assist, especially re. Britta who will need some assistance tomorrow if possible.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Swim Training Hours

Dear Swimmers

I can't believe we're now into 3 weeks to go until the Christmas festivities get under way - time flies hey?!

Just to give you forewarning that we shall be taking a well earned 11-day rest ourselves from formal coaching between Saturday 22nd December and Tuesday 2nd January, with all sessions being available on Friday 21st December as usual and all sessions recommencing on Wednesday 3rd January 2013.

We may however look to organise some informal sessions during this period and aim to post out some sessions that you can be doing in your own time around your own festivities to keep you ticking over!

Cheers and have a great week!