Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Cottesloe Classic Mile introduces two new distances!

Cottesloe Classic Mile - a note from the organisers…


If you sign up for the Cottesloe Classic Mile before Saturday, you'll  be in with a chance to win a voucher for Indianas.

This year there are 3 races so the whole family (from 9 years old) can get involved!! The three courses are; 400m, 1600m and 3000m race. The race briefings will be provided on the beach near the groyne.  The 400m briefing is at 7.50am, while the briefing for both the 3000m and 1600m races will be at 8.10am.

As usual, there will be many prizes up for grabs, electronic timing and staggered starts!

Visit the Blue Chip Timing site where you can enter and pay online! On the page, make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the website and then click on 'Next'.

The first 150 swimmers (other than the 400m swimmers) to enter online will receive a free event shirt.

There will be cash prizes for Fastest 3 Male and 3 Female finishers plus many age group prizes for the 1600m swim. There will also be prizes for the 400m and 3000m races depending on entries.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Please forward this to anyone else you think would like to enter.








Sunday, December 13, 2015

Please vote for me in the "40under40" Awards!



Dear Swimmers

Today I have some exciting (and somewhat daunting!) news for you - I've been selected for the "40under40" Awards:

"Established in 2002 by BUSINESSNEWS, the 40under40 Awards programme is designed to recognise and celebrate Western Australia's 40 leading business entrepreneurs under the age of 40. The programme recognises not only personal determination and commercial drive, but also the philanthropic pursuits that balance these young individuals' professional achievements, recognising the less public contributions to the welfare of Western Australia. - See more at: http://www.40under40.com.au/#sthash.w93ZqiBS.dpuf"

I was a little shocked to say the least, as for the last 11 years (almost to the day!), I've simply been running "Swim Smooth" as a program to help adults like yourself improve their efficiency and enjoyment of swimming here in the WA community. With a little hard work, plenty of enthusiasm, and some massive help from some key people in my life, Swim Smooth is now at a stage where what you do on a day-2-day basis with me down at the Claremont Pool is being officially put out in 119 countries around the world through the endorsement and adoption of the International Triathlon Union (the world governing body for triathlon) as their chosen swim coaching program:

"The opportunity to have Swim Smooth's expert knowledge taught to triathlon coaches is invaluable to our global coaching development education goals," said ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado. "The resources offer insight on both training and technique, providing information to coaches instructing athletes of all abilities."

A significant portion of this work for the ITU, British Triathlon and also here in WA with Triathlon Western Australia (2003-4) and Swimming WA (2014 to current) is work which we have done on a non-paid basis for the betterment of this wonderful sport that we all love so much. Maybe if I'd been in mining or engineering (like my parents told me!) the numbers might stack up better against my fellow candidates, but for our niche, we're doing OK!

I still enjoy what I do today as much as when I started all those years ago (to some extent, even more as I am now coaching coaches to coach what I coach all around the world - now there's a tongue-twister!!), and whilst this nomination is very humbling, I have to recognise that I'm up against some pretty stiff competition in the form of some very formidable business personalities from WA!!

Anyway, if you like what we do at Swim Smooth and you've found that it's made a difference in your life, I'd really appreciate your support and vote in the People's Choice Award. To do so and give me a chance to get up there, please visit:


…I'm about two-thirds down the list, under one of our very own squad swimmers and property magnate, Paul Blackburne.

To vote, simply check the radio button to the left of my mug-shot and then scroll to the bottom, complete your name and email address and then just press "submit". Job done. Will take you 2 seconds, promise!

Thanks very much!

Paul




Thursday, December 10, 2015

House Party Info

Dear Swimmers

I hope you have all had a good week and for those who can make it tomorrow evening between 5-10pm, I hope you're looking forward to our inaugural Christmas Party at our new place, affectionately known as "Casa Alfredo" at 145 Alfred Road, Mt Claremont. Full details below.

But first, I just wanted to say a MASSIVE congratulations to those of you in the squad who raced Ironman WA last weekend down in Busselton - the conditions were far from great (especially on the swim) but there were some very commendable and courageous efforts out there. I was simply blown away, inspired and in awe (in equal measure!) by the four ladies from the squad who each had the fastest swim, bike and run in their respective Age Groups, with Lauren and Emily taking out the top two spots overall in the women's Age Group category. All four ladies earn a spot in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October 2016. Well done girls! Emily even had the fastest female swim split of the whole day (including all the PROs too!). They used to say you couldn't win an Ironman on the swim leg, but now I'm not too sure!! These ladies are all supremely "swim fit" as I'd describe it which allows them to get out on the bike in a good physical state and capable of doing real damage on the bike and run. In the past people used to neglect the swim (given that it only accounts for about 10% of your race day) but then never really did themselves justice on the bike and run…so yes, there's a lot to be said for consistent hard swim training sessions of the CSS and "Red Mist" variety in order to boost your bike and run prowess - just use these ladies as a prime example!!

            

Party Time!

So currently our system is showing 60 people have registered their interest in attending our party tomorrow night. I am not quite sure how many people will actually show up but I have accounted for ~100 people and have bought alcohol (beer (mid and full strength), wine (red and white) and some bubbly too) accordingly. By all means, please bring your favourite tipple along with you if you like too! We will have some cooling tubs and of course a couple of fridges. Every little helps!

The party will not be catered but some light nibbles will be available and we will have a couple of BBQs on the go if anyone wants to bring something to cook. If I could politely request you bring a dish of something (starter, main, dessert) that would be a big help!

The main idea of the party was to try to bring together the various groups to share a drink, a laugh and a smile over the happenings of the last year. We haven't formally had a house warming yet either and given that this year has been quite a big one for us as a family, we'd like to take the opportunity to invite you around and say thanks for your support over the year(s). I feel like we have totally found our perfect home as a family and I have you all to thank for that, sincerely. We are on Cloud-9 still! Please feel free to bring your bathers and have a hop in the pool with the kids - they'd love that.

Even if you get chance to just pop by and say hi for 15-30 minutes, that'd be great. I have no idea when the busiest times will be (nor if the house will hold that many people!!), but we'll play it all by ear with an aussie festive faith that "she'll be right, mate!" and just hope that the neighbours will be OK with us "rabble"!

Regards parking, there may be some available on Strickland Street when you arrive, but equally you might prefer the safer bet of parking a little walk away as per the suggestions below (Mt Claremont Village, at the end of Strickland Street is 300m away, Mt Claremont Oval is 600m away, Claremont Pool & Golf Course is 800m away and the Claremont Train Station is 1.1k away) - it'll be a lovely walk through the park if that's what you choose to do! Please do your best to respect the street frontages of our neighbours! Thanks in advance and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

 






Sunday, December 6, 2015

Here's a great little event for you to get you over that post-Christmas hiatus...and then another (bigger) one for you to focus on!

Dear Swimmers

It'll soon be Christmas of course and leading into some of the bigger races towards the latter half of the open water season is the perennial and much-loved Swim Thru Perth on Sunday 17th January. There's a 1.6k and 4k option and with any luck entry into this event will see you avoiding any nasty stingers or other marine life!

Here's the link: http://www.swimthruperth.org

...and then if that gets your swimming taste buds going and if you missed out on Rotto this year, why not look at this:

The Hotel Rottnest Port To Pub inaugural event will be held on 19 March 2016. Registrations are open through the website  http://porttopub.com.au/

The Port to Pub will comprise two swimming events. A 20km race from Leighton Beach to Rottnest Island open to solo, duo teams, and teams of 4 or 6 swimmers. Also, an ultra-marathon 25km solo swim, which will be the longest open water swim available in Australia.

Both swims will start at Leighton Beach in front of the Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club and finish at the Hotel Rottnest. The course for the 25km event includes a 5km swim along the Leighton Beach coastline before participants continue to Rottnest Island.

They are allowing wetsuits for those who think they may be prone to hyperthermia. Wetsuits swimmers will not be eligible for prizes and there swim will not ratified as an official swim, but will still get a time and an opportunity to give it a go!

Cheers and have a great week!

P.S don't forget to RSVP through the app if you're popping along to the Christmas Party this week - Friday 11th December, 5-10pm.






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 app.swimsmooth.com 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: http://www.swimsmoothperth.com/#!gift-cards/cnac

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


Cheers

Paul





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!


Cheers

Paul






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 https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/admhome?studioid=247350 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!

Paul






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: http://swimsmooth.com/pauls_images/Pecking_Order_Summer_2015_16.pdf
  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)

1. RACE RESULTS:

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!

THE NEW PECKING ORDER WITHIN YOUR LANES:

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.

PICKING UP SQUAD SPOTS WHERE YOU THOUGHT THERE WEREN'T ANY USING THE NEW APP!

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!

PAUL AWAY IN THE UK:

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!

Paul






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: http://www.swimsmoothperth.com/#!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:

ADVANTAGES:

  • (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)

THE TYPES OF SETS WE DID:

  • 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

OBSERVATIONS:

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:

DISADVANTAGES:

  • 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

THE TYPES OF SETS WE DID:

  • 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.

ADVANTAGES:

  • 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

THE TYPES OF SETS WE DID (STILL DO):

  • 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 app.swimsmooth.com 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.

ADVANTAGES

  • 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!

THE TYPES OF SETS WE DID (STILL DO):

  • 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!

Paul







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


Enjoy!

Paul





Thursday, October 1, 2015

Eagles or Aquatic Fun...you decide!

Dear Swimmers

As you know, the AFL Grand Final is on this Saturday which clashes directly with our 1-2pm open water skills session at Claremont Pool. However, we appreciate not everyone is a fan of the footy, not least you Dockers fans out there being fans of the Eagles…so the question is:

"Eagles or Aquatic Fun?"

…you decide!

Currently we still have a dozen or so still registered for Saturday's session. As you know, this is an open session where larger numbers make for a more engaging session, so all you need do is login with your app and add yourself simply to this list if you wish to attend. We will make a judgement call on this session at 2pm today. If enough of you are still keen to swim despite the footy then it will still go ahead. You decide.

Not being into footy really myself - and with Sally being a big Eagles fan - we've decided that I will take this session on Saturday.

So if you're up for a bit of fun, fancy honing your open water skills, need to blast out the cobwebs or literally drown your Dockers sorrows from last weekend (sadly!), then make sure you register your interest to attend and we will send out a notification through the app after about 2pm today confirming one way or the other.

Cheers

Paul






Thursday, September 24, 2015

Heads up! Dates for your diary!

Dear Swimmers

I thought I'd send you a quick note to inform you of some date changes owing primarily to carnivals being run at the pool.

Don't forget, you can always check out our public holiday shut-down schedule here (including Christmas and Easter): http://www.swimsmoothperth.com/#!public-holidays/c24hz as well as the fact that your sessions in the app or your online portal won't show for the dates when we won't have sessions - so if they're not in there, they're not on. That being said, there are very few planned public holiday shut-downs, even this Monday's (28/9) 7am and 9.30am sessions will be on during HRH's birthday - thanks Ma'am!

Carnival changes:

9.30am Squad Sessions that are affected by Carnivals are: 

  • Mon 29/2/16*
  • Wed 2/3/16
  • Fri 4/3/16
  • Wed 9/3/16
  • Wed 16/3/16
  • Fri 18/3/16
  • Mon 21/3/16*
  • Wed 23/3/16
  • Wed 30/3/16
  • Fri 1/4/16

*Monday sessions will likely start 20 minutes later at 9.50am (TBC) due to me finishing my 1-2-1 session at the pool prior at 9.25am.

…these will either be run at Cottesloe Beach, Claremont Jetty or possibly an alternate pool venue (TBC). If the thought of an open water session doesn't inspire you on these dates, please be sure to cancel out of these sessions asap to allow others to have the opportunity to swim then. Thank you!

6.15pm Squad Sessions that are affected by Carnivals are:

  • Thursday 3rd March - CANCELLED (per the auto email out last night to everyone in this group)

Push Notifications / SMS:

If you have "Push Notifications" enabled within the app, I will send out the above details as simple reminders on the day before these sessions to hopefully avoid anyone showing up at the wrong place - just another reason to download and get using the app from the home page at http://www.swimsmoothperth.com - a fabulous little tool!

Please note, we will no longer be sending out bulk direct SMS's to the squad. These have been replaced by the Push Notifications within the app. I have however, reset everyone's Email / SMS settings to allow both email & SMS to be sent in the event that you have registered for a wait list and get offered a spot. Some people last week had their SMS notifications turned off and thus missed out on a wait list they were waiting for.

Of course, if you never plan to wait list for a session, you can always change your settings back in your profile! Too easy.

Have a great day!

Paul





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Same, same, but different!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're doing well and lapping up every one of today's 31ºC!

A couple of notes this week:

  1. we are still seeing a good number of people NO SHOWING for sessions despite you now having the tools at your fingertips to easily cancel out of a session up to 12hrs before that session starts. I hate to groan about this, but this morning was a prime example - we had 8 people on the wait list for the coveted "Red Mist" session at 5.30am and 9 people no show. This is very disappointing as every one of those wait-listers could have been permitted a start. Please make sure you download the freely available app in the Appstore (iOS) or Playstore (Android), search for "Swim Smooth Perth", download the app, login with your email as your username and your password as swim0400000000 (unless you've already changed it, and where the number is YOUR mobile number) and please get cancelling out of the sessions you cannot attend. It's really very easy. If you don't have an iOS or Android device, just perform the same function by visiting www.swimsmoothperth.com and using the login portal there. Of course those that don't show are not being charged a credit yet and the proposal was for this policy to be enforced from November onwards, though really you have everything at your finger tips now to please - out of courtesy to the program and the other swimmers - do this. We will be bringing this policy of charging for no shows forwards to Monday 5th October (my originally proposed date), now that everything is in place with the new system and it's been so for nearly 8 weeks now. I hope this seems fair and reasonable for all parties. Remember, if you have an emergency crop up that doesn't allow you to attend and you feel it fair and reasonable to request an early cancellation (no fee) then just email me later that day.
  2. Swimmers who continue to NO SHOW without notice (I have a list of about 20 people) may have their "permanent" bookings revoked and offered to someone on the waiting list. Again, I hope this is only fair. This might suit you better anyway (takes the stress off etc) and with the new system will allow you to simply register for the sessions you want to do, when you know you can make them. You might have to go on the wait list for a couple of your favourites, but if everyone is doing their thing and cancelling when they should, this should still allow you to attend. If you know already that you want to withdraw your permanent spot or are in need of cancelling a large block of sessions, just email me please.
  3. I have to commend the 9.30am squad on their ability to do the above mentioned request - almost every session here has a 100% show rate (thank you all!) and consequently many wait listers are finding they've been able to access these sessions as a result of people kindly cancelling out of these sessions when they know they can't make it. What should leave us all with no excuse is that many of these swimmers are "maturer of age" and would be the first to say they weren't the most technology savvy people…so if they can do it, so can you (please!).
  4. Some of you are still asking how to view their remaining credits and what does it mean when the iPad shows "zero credits remaining", either please read this explanation here or watch this NEW 3 minute video clip here, or simply wait until you receive the automated email when you have 2 sessions remaining and then follow the link to top-up.


Same, same, but different!

What do you think is beautiful about the picture above? That's right! A reasonable "Mind The Gap" gap between the swimmers in this morning's Red Mist Session, limited drafting and ironically each lane working like a well-oiled machine with and ironically with very little "Red Mist" to be seen. How was this achieved I hear you ask? Not by shouting or bribing surprisingly, but with a change to the pecking order within the lane which we're going to try on Thursday 6.15pm and Friday's 5.30am, 6.30am and 9.30am sessions. Those of you who don't like to see the detail of an upcoming session, look away now:



The details for Thursday / Friday:

  • each lane has two groups (SAME)
  • each group has a leader, each with a Tempo Trainer (SAME)
  • both groups within the lane are on the same cycle time / target time (DIFFERENT), starting 50m apart, so that the two groups never (in theory!) meet

What this results in:

  • less drafting (we save that specifically for the Saturday 1-2pm session), but more of a "true" effort on your part, which will only be a good thing
  • more of a challenge, i.e. race simulation with those faster swimmers in front of you gradually pulling away
  • giving you a challenge of seeing how long you can hang on for and how this might aid your ongoing development
  • learning to psychologically deal with faster swimmers pulling away from you, but for you to focus on yourself and holding your stroke together when this happens!

Anyway, we'll give it a try this Thursday / Friday and see what you make of it! Interestingly Lane 2 in the 5.30am squad have been working like this for many months now and it seems to work very well. Let me know what you think, good or bad, once you've tried it!

Cheers

Paul