Saturday, June 30, 2018

The July / September 10 week challenge project - go backwards to go forwards!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you are all having a fine weekend, albeit rather a chilly one!

2018/19 Fee Structure

Just a quick note to start to inform you that as of 5pm WST on Wednesday 4th July, squad credits will see a small increase in fee structure inline with the pool's increased charges and in line with an increase in CPI. Rather than increase immediately though, we wanted to give you the opportunity to top your account up if needs be at the 2017/18 fees. Anyone doing so will see their expiry starting AFTER they have used their last credit on their current block, so no stress there. 

Here are the new fees:

Paul away

I will be away from Friday 6th July and back on pool deck Tuesday 24th July. Michelle has already taken the kids over to Canada to see their grandparents who are celebrating an amazing 50 years of marriage. Being a glutton for the early morning "punishment" of the recent wet and wild weather on pool deck - and wanting to keep cracking the whip and make sure you all stay motivated of course - I decided to follow 2 weeks in arrears and will also tag on a 3-day Coach Education Course in Montrรฉal where we have 20 fantastic coaches lined up to learn the Swim Smooth way. 

Coaches Sally, Derek and Ross will take the reigns again whilst I deliver the course at the wonderful Stade Olympique which hosted the 1976 Olympic Games - wow!

The July / September 10 week challenge project - going backwards to go forwards! Starts week beginning Monday 23rd July

No doubt many of you with young families like ourselves will be taking a week or so away over the school holidays, which got me pondering recently:

"What's the best way to regain motivation during the colder months upon your return without the stress of thinking it's a hopeless cause?"

Your dedication over the summer months especially is unparalleled. It never ceases to amaze me how habitual most of you are about your exercise routine, which is great! Sometimes though, we can fall off the perch, and if that's going to happen, now's the time it will. We hear the alarm, but roll over and hit snooze instead. We've all done it!

The 630am Lane 4 boys feeling virtuous after a CSS Session at 3ยบC air temperature!

The number of people who comment to me "yeah but that's what is great about the new app booking system for you - you still get paid even if we don't show up!" to which I honestly reply, "trust me, I'd much prefer a pool full of people extending themselves and enjoying the water 365 days of the year than having empty lanes!" 

But what if you do take time off for the holidays? There's then nothing worse than feeling like you can't start back, fearful that your swim buddies have moved on your absence, but fear not!!! I have a great challenge to put to you which is going to see us all…

(project) going backwards in order to go forwards!

We've all heard the phrase, "you have to go slow in order to go fast" but this July, August and throughout September, I have a cunning plan for all of you to see if this is actually true!

Many of history's greatest leaders, innovators and powerhouses of thought knew the importance of going slow. The founder of the Roman Empire, Augustus, used the Latin phrase "Festina Lente" which translates to "make haste, slowly." It served as a reminder to Augustus and his followers to perform activities with the perfect balance of urgency and diligence. Let's put some of that into our training following the school holidays and give you a clear pathway to the start of the summer season without being overly stressful, but still just challenging enough to motivate you to achieve something worthy of a Roman Emperor! Sweet Uncertainty we call it and wrote about the motivating effects of that way back in 2012 here.

Now, before we go on, please take 2 minutes to watch this video clip about the difference between MOTIVATION and COMMITMENT - we need a spark to get you going, but habit and routine is what will keep you going and that's where this plan comes in…just like brushing your teeth, exercise should be a non-negotiable, year-round:

Watch this 2 minute video clip here: 

So here's the plan:

  1. I've painstakingly gone through every group in every squad session (some 96 groups!) and determined where I believe you to be at this point in time with respect to your CSS pace (which all our targets and RM Cycles etc are based off of course). You can see that information both above (as an example) and here (for everyone else).
  2. the good news is you don't need to start with a dreaded Time Trial (that's the beauty of myself and my coaches knowing EXACTLY where you're at!) - let's have a whoop for that! And you can always step down a group if you don't like what you see here.
  3. starting the week commencing Monday 26th July, we will slow every group in every squad down by 2s per 100m at every level of intensity ("What?! Are you mad?!" I hear you say!) in an effort to a) welcome everyone back after the break, b) make our goal times achievable, c) put in place some good squad etiquette and ethos, per the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Squad Swimmers which include good pacing and minding the gap as priorities
  4. we will then pick up with this little project ran in January 2012 which culminated in these results 10 weeks later where each week we make our target paces just a smidgen faster (<0.5%) than the week before
  5. the primary difference to 2012 is that we'll be slowing down first to give everyone the opportunity to make a nice, steady start and also to introduce a mini control set every Tuesday at CSS +3s/100 at the progressively faster paces as opposed to just the Friday sessions. This will also run though the entire week too per the schedule here including the Tuesday and Thursday evening sessions too where we currently have quite a bit of space for anyone wanting to pick up a new spot during the challenge period and beyond

I promise it'll be a lot of fun with a shared vision of us all starting from a manageable base to prepare ourselves for a great summer ahead! The final green time gives an indication of where I reckon you'll be by the 25th September if you manage to stick to the process (and are diligent with your attendance also!). Pretty exciting, following a simple bit of structure which I believe you can achieve on a minimum of 2-3 sessions per week.

And for those of you who already feel like you're in a good place, fear not: 

  • you could opt to move up a group
  • or simply know that it's not going to be as stressful to achieve the times, making the alarm clock a little easier to turn off rather than hit snooze!
  • you'll be developing great pacing
  • you'll be honing your aerobic development
  • you'll be back to the start in 5 weeks and a good 2-4s per 100m quicker by week 10
  • you'll have the chance to work on your technique
  • and who knows, maybe even lead the lane a little more often?!

But even then, this will still be a challenge, so I'll leave you with these sage words from Craig Harper (the guy in the video above) and please excuse the brief profanity in the first line - I'm sure we can heed these words in many aspects of our lives, not just swimming with the squad:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Something to listen to this weekend...

Photo: The mist rising from the beautifully heated Claremont Pool at 530am on Friday 15th June 2018 - if you've been putting off coming down to the squad of late, don't! It's gorgeous down here at this time of year!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you are all enjoying this amazing sunshine. Looks set to continue all weekend - whoop!

Recently I was interviewed for one of the worlds preeminent podcasts on triathlon training, That Triathlon Show, about my ideas and methodologies on training strategies for triathletes and open water swimmers. The host, Mikael Eriksson (based between Portugal and Finland), is a big fan of all things Swim Smooth and recently rated Swim Smooth as the world's # 2 resource on all things triathlon (not bad given we are a swim program ๐Ÿ˜‰ up against some very notable triathlon resources) - here's the link:

Anyway, I was really happy with how the podcast went and we spent a lot of time talking about you guys in the Swim Smooth Perth Squad and the rhyme and reason behind why I get you to do the silly things I do at 530am each morning!! The show was so full of content that it had to be split into 2 parts which you can listen to here:

And here:

Squad Sessions:

So if you liked the sound of the rationale behind what we do, but haven't yet checked out all of the types of sessions we do, make this a priority by selecting a few sessions from within the app and seeing how you go, perhaps starting with tomorrow's Saturday Stoic session which gives you a blend of all 5 types of session!

If you're in the mix for wanting a permanent spot in any of the sessions, NOW is the time to drop me a line to and make your requests. We definitely have availability in ALL 930am sessions as well as the two 615pm sessions on a Tuesday and Thursday (you might even snag a spot in the new Saturday session once we've received the final approval on the continuity of this session from the pool - watch this space!). 

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A wonderful swimming and coaching experience in Mallorca, Spain! Thanks for the opportunity!!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you’ve been well and keeping up your swimming in my absence. I hear that Sally has been doing a fine job as always cracking the whip and I look forward to taking back the reigns from Friday AM. Right now I’m sat on the tarmac in sunny Madrid, Spain reflecting on what has been an awesome 2 weeks of coach education with 20 coaches from around the world, plenty of 1-2-1 coaching and group sessions as guest coach of the BEST FEST festival of open water swimming, participation in all the events (totalling some 33km of open water racing in 6 days!), and finishing filming touches to our long-awaited Swim Smooth Kids program - phew! Busy, busy, busy!

The biggest question is…


I thought you might like to see some of my photos from the trip and hopefully some inspiration to consider perhaps travelling to Mallorca, Spain yourself in 2019 for the next BEST FEST - without doubt, this is the best series of open water swimming events anywhere on the planet. Think of it like the Tour de France of open water swimming - one or two races per day for 6 days culminating in a series winner. You don’t have to swim all the events (and some are more recreational / participatory than the 3 “Classics” where you get to race alongside some of the best national teams on the planet…well, for about 10m anyway!). I had always meant to provide a bit more of a run-down of the event after we did it last year, so have pieced it together for you below. I hope you enjoy - let me know if you’d be keen for this time next year! Definitely one for the bucket list!

The trip didn’t start off so well - I was bumped off my connecting flight between London and Palma de Mallorca just 12 hours before our 3-day Coach Education Course was due to start due to some issues with a French air strike. This spelled impending disaster as the next available flight saw me arriving in Mallorca 7 hoursafterour supposed start - eek! Good job my right hand man Adam saved the day by starting some of the modules in my absence along with fellow Swim Smooth Coaches Steve, Tim and Jon - phew! You’ve got to love the irony in the email that landed in my inbox as soon as I was bumped though (see above!)

We stay at The Sur Hotel in Colonia de Sant Jordi on the southern tip of Mallorca - despite an amazing view over the Mediterranean and it’s own pristine outdoor 25m swimming pool, it’s actually very reasonably priced and the staff are great!

We had 20 coaches from right around the world attend the course(UK, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, the USA, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark), each of whom had been hand-selected by myself from over 100 applicants. We are very lucky to have the following that we do outside of sunny Perth, in no short thanks to the hard work and dedication of Adam’s online prowess with our various websites and coaching platforms!

During the course we invite swimmers along as “guinea pigs” so that I can demonstrate the techniques and methods honed over 16 years coaching in Perth. Here is Felice who flew in especially from Italy for a 75 minute session with myself. Felice learnt to swim from scratch with our online program 4 years ago after a lifetime of water phobia from a near-drowning experience as a teenager. In just 4 years he’s now swimming open water marathon events and has a CSS pace of 1:36/100m - amazing!

Each morning we hop into the Med with the coaches with a little 800m open water swim to loosen off. Given my late arrival on Day 1 the coaches were engaged from 7am to 11pm on that first day in our efforts to catch up - pretty good going I’d say! No one fell asleep! The swims become an integral bonding experience for the coaches.

The Irish coaching continent of Triona, Caroline and Aisling with coach Ruben from The Netherlands enjoying a little down time by the hotel pool

During the course the coaches get to analyse each other and put into practice our Stroke Rate Ramp Test and also a full CSS Test too. There’s no rest for the wicked, and everyone gets chance to experience what they’ll be coaching on Day 3 as part of the Swimmer’s Clinic - we believe this is a fundamental part of great coaching, empathy for your swimmers.

The Finis Freestyler paddles are a firm coaching favourite!

No wonder I have “small man syndrome” - when you’re working with giants like coach Thorsten from Germany at 198cm, it’s hard not to feel a little inadequate in the height department, but...

…that is what Swim Smooth and our underlying methodology of Swim Types is all about - recognising and embracing people’s individuality - take coaches Nico (Tenerife) and Andres (Benidorm) here - 26cm difference in height, almost double that in wingspan but both of whom swim at EXACTLY the same pace by defining a swim stroke that’s right for them using our Swim Types paradigm - this might seem like an extreme example, but we see it ALL the time! Good job they each took heed of our advice many years ago when they found us online ๐Ÿ‘ more on this here

It’s always a pleasure (and somewhat embarrassingly flattering) to pose for photos and even sign dog-eared copies of our book for the coaches who attend the course - sometimes when you’re hard at work with the local squad (you guys!) you forget how much influence you can exert with your online presence for coaching peers right around the world. I feel blessed and very grateful to now be in this position - even more so that you all continue to support the local squad in my absence for this very necessary part of what we are all about. Of course, much blood, sweat and tears have gone into getting to this point and the job of truly changing and improving the world of swim coaching for the better will never be complete, but it’s trips like this to Mallorca that really allow us to see the difference we are making and we are very grateful for that opportunity.

Since we ran our first 3-day Coach Education Course in 2010 (this latest one being our 25th) it’s interesting to see how much more time we are able to put into the practicalities of our methods and less time justifying the theory behind what we do. Much of that is thanks to our online coaching platform (the Swim Smooth Guru) as we are able to send the coaches a pre-course reading / viewing list, but a good portion of it is also thanks to a growing change and acceptance of our methodologies which is always heartening to witness. When you try to change the status quo of how swimming has been traditionally taught, it can at first be an uphill battle, but we’re now gathering momentum and that can only be a good thing all round. I do laugh when people say that we’re an “overnight success” though, yeah right a "14 year overnight success” ☺️ if you’re passionate about what you do in your own line of work and keep forging ahead with conviction and dedication, all those long hours will eventually be worth it!

The coaches practicing some fun open water skills (not sure how legal / ethical the top right picture is though!)

Coach Steve (left) was one of our first fully Certified Swim Smooth Coaches, here he is passing on his wisdom to soon-to-be-certified Coach Tim (right) who loves Mallorca so much that he’s going to base his whole Swim Smooth program out there!

Selecting the coaches for these courses is never easy given the number of quality applicants, but photos like these make us realise that we made the right choice from a shared-values perspective and that is what growing Swim Smooth is all about - going the extra distance to find the very best people to represent us with our mission to change the face of swim coaching worldwide

The trusty Finis Freestyler paddle helping a swimmer from Stockholm, Sweden improve his stroke timing

The coaches are paired up on Day 3 to offer advice and correction to a single swimmer who receives feedback and analysis from myself also…a 3 to 1 coach:athlete ratio is unheard of (and some might say unnecessary / confusing for the swimmer), but the benefit of the previous 2 days and the strength in the Swim Smooth coaching system is that we’re all then singing from the same hymn sheet come Day 3 - this allows both coaches and swimmers to gain the most beneficial learning experience

Thumbs up from Coach Andres after posting the fastest 400m time of the CSS Test

…see, Tim is already decked out in his Mallorca attire and he hasn’t yet officially started over there yet!

Swimmer and coach working hard to ID stroke faults and correction processes in a simple, memorable way

As part of the BEST FEST festival of open water swimming (27 May to 2 June), I was appreciative to be invited for the second year to be their official guest coach, delivering sessions in both the pool and open water for people participating in the event itself - this is a great way for us to extend our reach into Europe where many of the swimmers travel from

Pip (right) was one of the first enthusiastic swimmers back in 2005/6 to invite us to his Master’s swim club in London to run an evening seminar for his squad. I haven’t seen Pip since that time, so it was great to catch up again and race head-to-head at the various events as part of the BEST FEST - he’s a bit of a beast to say the least!

Very happy with my first event - a 5km ocean swim in 1h06m19s (or 1:19/100m) - my sole mission with my own participation around all the coaching and filming we were doing was to simply race myself fit…this was a very good start!

The schedule looks like this:Day 1= 5km parallel to one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, Es Trenc;Day 2= 4.5km (actually 6km given a course change due to rough weather);Day 3= 1.5km in the morning and 2.5km individual time trial in the afternoon;Day 4= 3km over an extinct Italian volcano, complete with fresh water spring (chilly!);Day 5= 10km circuit course alongside some of the world’s best open water swimmers (my goal = not to get lapped on the 1.4km circuit - I didn’t…just!);Day 6= 3.8km Ironman distance swim (see above - I won this event overall ๐Ÿ˜„);Day 7= 4 x 500m relay (which I shared 2 legs with another UK based swimmer called Ceri - we won the overall mixed title ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„)

In amongst all the coaching and racing, we managed to find time to fly Coach Gabi from Prague in the Czech Republic and her daughter Viki to Mallorca for 5 days. Gabi has been painstakingly building our new Swim Smooth Kids program over the last 4 years and whilst still not quite ready to roll out yet, I have to say it’s looking phenomenal - watch this space!

Gabi’s number one driving motivation is her daughter Viki - she’s creatively taken the ethos, methodology and Swim Types system from our adult program and applied it to her own very successful kids program in Prague with Viki being the model student and the base for one of two of our new mascots (somewhat blushingly, I’m the other! ☺️)

We even found time for me to deliver a taster session for the “new" sport of SwimRun to the locals of Colonia de Sant Jordi - as I’ve qualified for the World Championships in Sweden this September (on my 40th birthday weekend!) I needed to keep up my own trail running whilst over there, so this was a great opportunity to both coach and train at the same time!

Ceri (overall 40-49 non-elite female winner), myself (2nd place in my new 40-49 age group - I put up a good fight and despite being much quicker than last year in every event, last year’s runner up has also evidently been working hard to get fit - best of 3 in 2019?), and Mark (overall 50-59 non-elite male winner)

Prior to flying home I took the opportunity to rent a road bike and head into the mountains. I was a little jaded after all the coaching and racing but was blown away by the stunning scenery and challenging climbs. 70km took nearly 3 hours (such were the gradients) but without doubt this is now my most favourite ride on the planet!

The drop down to Sa Calobra is both bitter and sweet - you have these stunning views and amazing secluded beaches to ogle over, but the only way out is to turn back on yourself and ride the 9.5km climb at an average gradient of 7% back up the hill! It’s definitely a doable climb for most though if you take your time and soak it all in!

1km to the summit…breathing heavily!

Words do not do this view justice - just wow!

Palma de Mallorca (the island’s capital) at the end of the ride

Narrow, cobbled streets with many a secret cafe tucked away to rival the best of Perth’s caffeine addicted!

Beautiful window furniture every which way you look!

Enjoying a well earned beer in the main plaza

Soaking up some history and culture in the city’s Cathedral - probably the most exuberant church I’ve ever been in!

Final dip in the Med!

See you Friday!