Monday, February 24, 2020

Rottnest 2020 Squad Results - some tremendous performances in some very "un-fast" conditions

Squad Swimmer Francesca Perugia all zinc-ed up and ready to roll!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you had a great weekend and if you were involved in anyway with the 2020 Rottnest Channel Swim, I hope you have some of your own great stories and experiences to share!

The top-line:

All up we had a total of 37 Solos, 20 Duos, and 24 Team members out there on the day, plus about the same again skippering, paddling and assisting on the boat deck. It’s so great seeing so many of you get behind this iconic event!

The Elephant In The Room: “Perfect Conditions”

The Elephant In The Room:

OK, so let’s start off by discussing the elephant in the room - the so-called “perfect” conditions that faced the swimmers on the morning of 22nd February.

2020 proved to be a year pumped-up in anticipation much like our two reports on the 2017 swim:

1 Managing Expectation With Reality
2 So Just How Hard Was The Rottnest Channel Swim 2017?

Rather than regurgitate these reports here (as the conditions and slow times proved to be very similar), if you’re feeling a little disappointed with your times this year, these two reports from 3 years ago reportedly saved many, many swimmers many, many dollars on seeking psychological counselling for what they believed was a “poor performance” given how supposedly “good” the conditions were; that’s really not that much of a joke - some people were really put out by this, and here’s why:

Everything you would have read and even “felt” before the race looked like it was going to be a smooth ride across to the island, but as we set off through the Fremantle Harbour and out into the lumpy ocean conditions with a much stronger wind blowing than predicted to collect our swimmer (186 - Bec Johnson from the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre), we knew immediately that it wouldn’t be a fast year. Relaying this information early on in the race to Bec allowed her to accept and be “at peace” with that fact rather than let expectation start to run away from reality. 

When I swam the English Channel in 2011, the very best piece of advice anyone gave me as we set off into the 25-30 knot headwind was from former English Channel record holder Lyndon Dunsbee “mate, get ready for a long day out there today - a 12-14 hour swim would be a “good effort” today”. I had hoped to be closer to 9 hours that day and was in prime condition, so hearing this from someone I trusted immediately allowed me to settle down, relax and get on with the job in hand, however long that was going to take. And of course, this is what open water swimming is all about. Like Forrest Gump said, “life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you’re going to get!” and in many ways open water swimming is the same - we are at the beck and call of Mother Nature - our nemesis ultimately proves to be our own mind that plays with the thoughts “it was supposed to be great out here today, it doesn’t feel great, my times are slow - I bet everyone else other than me is having a ripper of a day!”

So, if you haven’t yet looked back at all the fantastic stats and charts from the two links above and are still feeling down on your times, check this summary from the 2020 swim by Julian Mills who swims with squad coach Ross Robertson:

…the further to the top-right of the chart, the slower the swim was on any given year both for the fastest swimmer and for the average time of the Solo field. So for 2020, only 2009, 2017, 2006 and 2003 (the latter two being brutal years on the very verge of cancellation) have been slower years for the majority of swimmers in the last two decades. More interestingly, if you swam 2018 and 2020 (as many people frequently do alternate years), the average time was close to an hour slower!!

Now, what the above chart does not account for is the massive level of Solo participation this year with some 415 finishers from a start list of 450. This is much bigger than previous years, and as per the trend from this wonderful stats site about the English Channel where the average swim times have actually been getting slower over the last 40 years despite participation and success rates sky-rocketing almost threefold. Why is this? Well, as we discussed last week in our podcast with English Channel World Record Holder, Tom Gregory, who in 1988 swam the English Channel at the age of 11 years and 333 days, it’s quite possibly a factor of more less experienced swimmers taking on the challenge, rather than seeing the event as “only for supermen” as they might have done in previous years. This of course is a great thing for the sport, but why we also need to be careful about how much we read into these summary statistics.

The Results:

So, if we have to be cautious about looking at summary statistics, what can we use to know if we have had a good swim or not? Sometimes, relativity is your best course of action, but even then (as we’ll discuss in a moment and this Thursday’s podcast with special guest, Bec Johnson who successfully completed swim 1 of 3 of her “Life Without Limits” campaign for the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre) this can be problematic as how do you know if you had a blinder but your squad mate had a total shocker, or vice versa?

Anyway, here’s how our swimmers did:


Peach = top-3 swimmers for context* / Yellow = 1-2-1 clients (or remotely advised athletes)

*plus Simon Murie (who many, many of you will know as owning “Swim Trek” whom we’re currently organising a formal partnership with as we speak - stay tuned!). Here’s me and Simon pre-race (yes, yes, he’s quite a bit taller and more handsome than me 😉):

The “Totally Bonkers” Award (red stars) goes to Nathan Linehan and Coach Ross who both swam to Rottnest (20km), Rode Across Rottnest (20km) and then Ran Back Across Rottnest (20km) to be two of only 5 athletes this year to complete the annual "20/20/20 Extreme Triathlon":

Stroke for Stroke!

Proud Swag!



Massive congratulations to all of you, with a special shout out to Kristy Brackstone and Rachelle Doyle who individually won their respective Age Groups (40-44 and 45-49) - love your work ladies!

We also had Top-10s from:

Ben MacKinnon 
Nathan Linehan
Ross Robertson
Fletcher Barr
Vaughan Davies
John McCann
Nicole Whitehead
Bec Johnson
Francesca Perugia
Manue Hooper-Bue
Lorraine Driscoll

These are exceptional results everyone!

All of our DUO swimmers managed Top-10 placings in their respective categories with a notable overall win from Brad Smith and Jack Wilson. Given that these boys can hold (quite comfortably) under 1:10 per 100m in a 5-10 min change-over swim, their average pace of over 1:20 per 100m again points towards a slower than “usual" year. Squad stalwart, Rob Franklyn and his partner narrowly missed out picking up the top of the podium in the 100+ category - well done gents! I was very impressed with the way Jeremy and Vinka rocketed past us in the dying stages of the swim to also claim 2nd in their category as did Bill Adlam and his partner in the 100+ mixed. Despite a dodgy shoulder, Steve Sammut and his partner managed a very commendable 3rd spot too.

This year we didn’t have so many swimmers racing in the TEAM event (I know any of you are holding out for the Port-to-Pub swim in 4 weeks), but well done to Alen, John, Tom, Shannon, Vanita and the comeback-kid Paul Chambers for your efforts out there - hope you had a blast!

My View - Bec Johnson - CEO of Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre:

I was very privileged to spend the day on the boat of Solo Squad Swimmer Bec Johnson as she made her bid to complete the first of the following within the next 2 months:

1 Rottnest Channel Swim (19.7km)
2 Port-to-Pub Ultra-Marathon (25km)
3 Rottnest Channel Swim Double (~40km)

Bec was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 17 and is on a mission through her work as CEO at the “Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre” to prove that it’s possible to Live A Life Without Limits ( where you can donate). I have been so in awe of Bec’s commitment these past 12 months towards this goal that I jumped at the chance of being involved. When Bec asked all her support crew last weekend in our final team briefing “what’s your motivation to assist with this campaign?” all I could come up with was that I wanted her to get across safely (we all did) and that I was simply curious about how her fuelling strategy was of absolute paramount importance and what this looked like in reality.

Bec with squad swimmer Mark Wallis before the gun!

We’re going to get Bec on our podcast later this week to discuss that strategy in finer detail as - through discussion post her brilliantly successful swim and P.B on the weekend (when most - as discussed above - were slower than expected) - we believe that there’s a lot everyone can learn from Bec with respect to managing glucose levels for better performance, but that this doesn’t just happen on the day, it starts way back with the right approach to your training and pacing strategies too. This is where Bec’s “win” this weekend really came from - not what happened on the day, but in all the planning and preparation that went with it, simply because she has to live life this way. Incredible.

Vince Connelly MP even had this to say about Bec “The Powerhouse” Johnson today in Federal Parliament: - go Bec!

I couldn’t refuse a photo of this!

We elected to follow the “go north” advice of Bureau of Meteorology expert and 20th place finisher, Bob Tarr, whom I’ve been advising in a 1-2-1 capacity for a number of years and also through various squad sessions over the years. In fact, our GPS trace via the tracker was almost identical to Bob’s - we could see where he’d been about an hour before us and just followed this line. It proved to work very well.

Bec set a steady 18-18:30/km true swimming pace and a perfectly consistent 64spm stroke rate and essentially dialled that in all day. We’d stop every hour to monitor blood glucose levels to ensure they were in the right range and intervene with small doses of glucose (in the form or gels or liquid) if they weren’t. Bec’s speed through these transitions was exemplary and the whole team got involved in the process - it was great! Just before the 12km mark (and after verifying it with the Race Director) I hopped in to keep Bec company and we swam stroke-for-stroke up until the 18km marker. I really enjoyed this, but had to be really mindful that what had made Bec’s crossing so successful so far was the consistent pace she’d set herself - if I were to try to lift her pace we’d run the risk of chewing too much glycogen which could be catastrophic, so this was as much about simply keeping another swimmer company as it was chivvying their pace along.

There was never any doubt that Bec would make it across and everything was cool, calm and collected on the boat. Bec’s two paddlers (Liam and Edel) were just brilliant and Amy (on comms and medical support) was always in control. Rob did a brilliant job of keeping to the line we had pre-agreed upon and I was mainly in charge of Speedo bum-wiggle-dances on the boat to keep Bec entertained.

Once we’d made it across, I was super impressed with how quickly Bec recovered (again, testament to her in-depth planning and the right type of training). She looked fresh as a daisy almost instantly (as you’ll see in the picture journal below).

I’m really enthused to share a deeper dive into Bec’s swim with you all, but will save that for the podcast later this week where we’ll bring in a couple of industry nutrition experts to discuss this as well. Stay tuned!

Well done everyone, here’s some closing pics - enjoy and ’til next year!

Glucose levels trending downwards (as to be expected) but we had to be a little careful in the final hour where Bec got slightly low

We swam north of the rhumb-line, taking advice and inspiration from Bureau of Meteorology expert and 20th place finisher, Bob Tarr

Ominous skies at the 10km (northern) mark

So, so strong and always consistent with pacing (18min/km), stroke rate (64spm) and smiling (x 1,000)!

We would go live on Facebook every 30 minutes with an update for the thousands of people around the world inspired by Bec’s story

After verifying it was OK with the Race Director, I hopped in from 12 to 18km to keep Bec company - I loved it!

Bec’s post-race recovery was phenomenally quick!

I think the beard needs to go!

Me, Liam and Edel (missing in action: Amy on comms and Captain Rob)

Back to reality and no rest for the wicked! After a day that started at 3am and after 2 full weeks pulling 16hr days with the Certified Coaches, I arrived home wanting to collapse but had Jackson badgering me to build a skateboard ramp - and so we did! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Good luck to our Rotto swimmers and a bit of inspiration in the form of an 11yr old boy!

Hey Swimmers

Hope you've had a good start to the week and if you've made it down to the squad sessions over the last 10 days that you've benefitted from the added assistance of the 10 coaches we've had on pool deck - their assistance with the 7am Monday Pure Technique Session offering plenty of stroke correction advice to every swimmer, was a particular highlight for us.

We just wanted to take this opportunity to wish those of you competing at the Rottnest Channel Swim this Saturday the very best of luck. The conditions look great at this stage with a light ENE wind shifting to NW in the early afternoon with the possibility of a bit of drizzle in the morning (40%).

I'll be assisting squad swimmer Bec Johnson with swim one of three of her amazing marathon swimming campaign as part of her "Life Without Limits 2020" bid to raise awareness and funds for Diabetes WA. Bec will also be swimming the Port to Pub 25km swim and then a Rottnest double attempt a few weeks after that. Totally amazing! You can find out more about this here:

...and on the ABC radio interview here:

And if you're looking for a little inspiration for this weekend in the form of our podcast last week with the world's youngest ever English Channel Swimmer, Tom Gregory, who swam the Channel in 1988 at the age of 11yrs 333 days (!) why not have a little listen here - you'll be very glad you did! Here's the link:

Finally, this age-old article on tips on how to avoid (and deal with!) shoulder issues this weekend, take a look here:

Good luck everyone and see you on the island!


Sunday, February 9, 2020

56 Swim Smooth Squad Swimmers Smashing it in Busso!

Hey Swimmers

Now I know why it's felt so quiet up here in Perth this weekend - because 56 of you were smashing it down in Busso at the Jetty Swim instead - well done!


Some brilliant results I have to say - check them out here:

An absolute stand-out performance today from Mary Tennant (Lane 1 M/W/F at 9.30am and godmother to my son Jackson!) who completed the 3.6km course in 1h17m55s which is an average pace of 2:09/100m. Mary competes in the 60-64yr age category and has been swimming with me in various squads since about 2002 when I coached up at Challenge Stadium for the Stadium Triathlon Club. What makes this such a stand-out performance is that I'd estimate Mary's CSS pace to be about 2:14/100m, i.e. 5s/100m slower than she managed to hold for nearly 3 times the statutory CSS distance (1500m) AND in open water!

There were PBs left, right and centre, and whilst she normally thinks of herself as a cyclist and triathlete and more of a "reluctant swimmer", Nat Laurendeau shows us she had the goods to take out the Age Group win in the 50-54yr category, as did Kristy Brackstone in the 40-44yr category and Viki Shelver in the 65-69 Age Group.

Our strongest male performance was from Coach Ross who averaged 1:22/100m (about his CSS pace) with another fine effort from Jeremy Hadfield to finish 5th in the 40-44 Age Group category.

Some great results all round everyone - very proud of your efforts - I think I shall have to get down there myself next year (having only done this event of nearly 2,000 swimmers once before).


Don't forget, we will have 10 coaches including myself on pool deck at every session for the next fortnight. These are some of the best swim coaches on the planet who've been hand-selected by yours truly to take our Swim Smooth Coach Certification program and thus go on to run their own Swim Smooth Squad in their locale. To date we have 50 coaches worldwide and the interest in this program is only getting stronger, which is great news!

You can read more about these coaches here:

Make sure you get registered early for some of the key sessions over the next fortnight to avoid missing the coaches whilst they are here.

We have good availability in tomorrow and next Monday's Pure Technique Session and in the 9.30am W/F sessions and next Saturday at 5.30am, but all the early morning midweek sessions have in some cases over 25 people on the waitlist, so if you cannot attend and have a spot booked, please be courteous to your fellow swimmers by cancelling early to allow them to benefit from such an amazing coach-swimmer ratio.


Over the next fortnight, we'll be getting you all to test some exciting new wearable technology* and software we've been developing to both give you greater insight into your swimming form and to allow the coaches to learn more about the effectiveness of your training. If you didn't see this article on Friday (well worth a read, it's been getting some rave reviews online: LINK) AND you think you might have hit a bit of a plateau with your swimming performance of late, we are certain that the combination of these two aspects of your swimming might shed some light as to how you can make some further inroads with your swimming. We know you'll be excited to get involved with this.


That's it for now, see you on pool deck in the morning!


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Swimmers - please welcome your NEW coaches for 10-22 February!

Dear Swimmers

This year marks the 10th anniversary of us welcoming a cohort of highly experienced international coaches to the brilliant Claremont Pool to undergo 2 weeks of intensive Swim Smooth Certification and mentorship by the team of Paul, Adam, Emma and new team member, Myffy. The coaches will be with us from 10-22 February - perfect time for your final Rottnest Channel Swim preparations - and we hope that you will welcome them with open arms as you always do!

The coaches this year come from:

  • Canada
  • England
  • Wales
  • Ireland
  • United Arab Emirates
  • New Zealand

New this year, the coaches have already begun many of their certification tasks using a new Learning Management System which we've built over the last 12 months to ensure a more fluid and comprehensive training program for them all. They'll be hitting the ground running and then following the 2 weeks in Perth will have a few final assignments to submit before they go on to become fully-fledged Swim Smooth Coaches in their respective regions. This will bring our global number of coaches to 56, many of whom will be travelling to Mallorca, Spain at the end of May to join us for our very first collective Coaches Conference to celebrate the 10 years working together and helping to improve the world of swim coaching everywhere. Exciting times.

Here's a little BIO for each of the coaches coming in February for your reference:

Samantha Bradley (neé Warriner), Taupo, New Zealand, 2008 World Triathlon Champion (listen to our podcast with Sam here):

Sam says: "I am passionate about helping others achieve their goals. After being a former Pro myself I love sharing my expertise and stories. I am currently head coach at sweat7. I run a triathlon swim squad here in Taupo that includes 2x open water swim sessions and 2 pool sessions. I have been trying to get on a Swim Smooth course for quite a while but never in right area. I love coaching but need my knowledge updating and a new stimuli. I love seeing athletes improve their technique and helping them gain confidence in open water. But I am now looking to improve my knowledge and educate myself further. This course excites me!"

Andrea Garrington, Bridgend, South Wales, UK:

Andrea says: "I have worked in training and development for most of my career. I suppose it is safe to say that helping people realise their full potential has been the focus of my professional life. I 'discovered' triathlon 9 years ago and it seemed a natural progression to become involved in coaching. I was supported by my club as we had no female coaches. My particular interest is working with middle aged women. I believe I can relate to them, appreciating their personal challenges and showing how triathlon can transform them both physically and mentally. We now have an amazing supportive group, having the most enjoyable and satisfying time of our lives."

Penny Mullan, Vancouver, Canada:

Penny says: "My strength is keeping the enjoyment in swimming for those who are either burned out or have anxiety around swimming. I have a background in Life Coaching and have worked as a Life/Fitness coach for many years. The Life Coach skills play a huge part in my success as a coach. I use my intuitive and listening skills every time I step onto the deck. I also have a keen eye for stroke deficiencies. I don't always know the best way to direct improvement, this is why I would love to get more training from your program to improve in this area."

Brent Perkins, Northampton, England, UK:

Brent says: "I am good team player, and looking to improve all the time and want to become a Swim Smooth certified coach in the fullness of time. I coached and worked last year 2018 with. 9 athletes that had never completed a full distance triathlon some could not swim or ride a bike, all 9 complete Challenge Roth and raised £242,000 for GOSH."

Maxine Strain, Dublin, Ireland:

Maxine says: "I literally grew up in a pool. Being South African, I guess it came with the territory! I absolutely love the water and have only come to swim teaching/coaching in the last 18 months. Having spent most of my adult life working in sales, marketing, event management, get the picture...I love to work with people, I decided I needed to get a better work/life balance. I am a mum of 4 so having a flexible career was something I wanted so I decided to make that happen. For many years I had heard others say that you should find your passion and you will never work a day in your life. I believed such a thing existed, but how would I get there? About 2 years ago I decided to put aside all of my fears, ditch my day job and train as a swim teacher. I didn't realise how much I actually knew people AND swimming. I have been hooked ever since!"

Paolo Mangilinan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates:

Paolo says: "Working with kids and adults for almost 6 years now, I have gained a lot of experience to handle any abilities in swimming, whether they are beginner, advanced swimmer or elite swimmer/triathlete and to get selected by Swim Smooth would be great for me to reach the full potential to be a better coach."

Here's to a great 2 weeks!



Saturday, December 21, 2019

15 years of thank yous! Swim Smooth turns 15!

Hey Swimmers

In case you missed the blog on our main "Feel For The Water" platform, today we celebrate a very special milestone in Swim Smooth history with our 15th birthday! That's right, it was 15 years ago to the day since we launched Swim Smooth in sunny Perth and since those days we now have Swim Smooth in 119 countries around the world via our governing body partners of the International Triathlon Union and British Triathlon who choose us above all others for their swim coaching curriculum - something we're hugely proud about!

We also have now 50 coaches operating around the world running exact replicas of the very special group we have here in Perth too.

One of my biggest passions and "WHYs" for what we do is to help raise the standard of swim coaching for adult swimmers, triathletes and open water swimmers worldwide, so in conjunction with our own certified coaches program and that of the international governing bodies we are making a significant impact on that aim and hope to do so for many years to come.

Absolutely none of this would be possible without your support and dedication over the years and making the Perth Squad the centre-piece that it is and something I wake up to every morning grateful to be engaging in a career I am truly passionate about. Yes, it's been a tough year this year, but we're forging ahead and currently recharging our batteries to make 2020 our biggest and best yet. Thanks so much for coming along on that ride!

You can see some cool historical pictures and images from our other Swim Smooth Squads around the world here:

...and you might even spy yourself in this cool video we've put together here:

Thanks again - have a great Christmas!

Paul & the team

Monday, May 13, 2019

Swim Smooth KIDS & JUNIORS coming to Claremont Pool this June!

Dear Swimmers

I have some GREAT news for you all, and something that's been a LOOOOOONNNNGGGGG time coming!

Swim Smooth KIDS & JUNIORS!

5 years in the making...the Swim Smooth KIDS & JUNIORS teaching and coaching curriculum is coming to Claremont Pool every Saturday morning from June 15th onwards for kids aged between 7 and 14*!

Winning doesn't necessarily mean finishing first!

*subject to swimming ability (see below) we may consider kids and juniors slightly below / above this age range by +/- 1-2 years.

The premise of the program (at least initially) is to run a concurrent, fun training session for both adults and their kids utilising water space in the 50m pool (adults) and 25m pool (kids) between 0530 and 0700 every Saturday morning, culminating with an optional buffet-style family breakfast at Fred’s cafeteria.

"Five thirty...on a Saturday!" I hear you saying, and, "starting in the winter months?!" - we've never been ones for following "rules" and believe that the combination of the goal of getting you swimming "with" your kids followed by a family social breakfast all well before any other Saturday activities start, will become a staple in the western suburb's weekend routine. At the very least, we're willing and committed to giving this great initiative a bit of a crack and a fair go, as we really believe in the value that this experience will bring to many families.

We’ve been running the adult program since April 2018 on a Saturday morning and it's firmly established itself as the most fun session of the week and the best way to start your weekend off on the right track! This will still continue in the same capacity, even if you don't have kids of course! However, if you do have kids, we want to bring this same experience to your children and at the same time help solve the issue that many young families have of “who’s looking after the kids whilst I go and swim?” which is especially problematic on a Saturday morning when there’s often a tug of war of who can swim - often resulting in stalemate with neither attending!!

Head Coach, Paul Newsome, has been voluntarily coaching the Mount Claremont Primary School swim team for the last three years and will be bringing the fun flair that this program has garnered a reputation for to the Saturday morning session - see more here:

Watch our 3 minute intro on the program to see how you / your family might be able to take part in this great initiative! Watch the video at

We are really hoping to create a very special family affair on a Saturday morning to complement what has been a very successful program down at the Claremont Pool since 2008.

In a nutshell, the kids program will be very different - and designed to complement rather than compete against - the other successful and commendable kids programs at the pool due to it a) being run in conjunction with an adult session, b) most of those adults being parents to the kids in the pool, c) the early start on a Saturday morning to really boost health and the start to a fun family weekend!

Register you interest here:

Please register your kid's interest for joining the program here:

We'd appreciate if you could fill out the form above for any / all of your kids between the ages of 7 and 14 (by all means for anything below / above this age range, please complete and we'll consider +/- 1-2 years as the program develops).

Places can now be booked within the main Swim Smooth Perth Squad app, but we'll also need fuller details from the form above too - thanks!

We will be hiring the whole 25m pool every Saturday morning, but even then, places will be limited and those registering first will have the first option of reserving "Permanent OPT OUT" places just like in the main adult squad.

Looking for some volunteers - can you help?

We aim to have 1-2 coaches on pool deck running the adult component (still created by Paul) and 1-2 coaches taking the kids and juniors. Head Coach, Paul, will be overseeing both programs each week. We are seeking additional volunteers to assist in the smooth delivery of the program each week. If you're keen to receive some free training and to lend your hand to the next generation of Swim Smooth Perth participants, please register your interest here:

How is Swim Smooth different to the other kids programs out there... for the bizarre fact that you're starting at 0530 every Saturday and during winter ("it'll never work!" they say!)?

You can learn more about the Swim Smooth KIDS & JUNIORS curriculum and philosophy which we've been secretly developing in deepest, darkest Prague in the Czech Republic with our brilliant certified coach Gabriela Minarikova over the last 5 years in this 7 minute video clip:

Watch the video about the genesis of our kids program here:

What's the cost? How does payment work?

We are going to keep the exact same payment system you're all used to using, using the same platform / app but all at a concessionary rate! Yay to that!

If your kids are swimming "solo" (i.e. and you're not attending the Saturday session), the fee will be $120 for 10 sessions, or a very good value $12 per session* for 1.5hrs including 30 minutes of dryland warm-up exercises and fun games.

If you're bringing your kids along to swim "with" you (our ultimate aim), they'll score an extra 2 sessions for free, so you get 12 sessions for $120 or just $10 per session*.

*these are introductory rates for the program, if we re-assess, it'll always be in favour of extra discount for you swimming with your child. We hope that helps!

The SQUAD for kids who don't do SQUAD!

This isn't strictly true (squad kids can also apply!), but if your kids have some passion and enthusiasm for swimming and can complete 50m of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke with some fluency and can just about manage a 25m lap of butterfly (give or take), we are happy for them to apply for the squad!

We will be grading the lanes by ability as opposed to age, and will create a fun program that your kids want to be part of, even if the idea of a "proper" swim squad maybe doesn't appeal to them!

We aim to create a lifelong love of swimming and will do this through our entirely unique approach of recognising that: a) your stroke doesn't necessarily have to look textbook perfect for you to be effective (see; and that b) swimming for swimming's enjoyment sake, is just as commendable as aiming for the Olympic Games!

If we do happen to produce some future champions though, then that's OK too of course, but we'll have hopefully done it in a lifelong, sustainable way.

So many kids find swimming in squads ultimately dull and boring, so we want to change that. More than anything though, we want your children to have the opportunity to attend swim practice with you, at the same facility, completing a similar type of enjoyable session, and perhaps even having an occasional KIDS vs ADULTS race, so that you can both enjoy the experience, look forward to going for a swim, and then be able to engage and chat over a yummy breakfast about the highs and lows of the session!

We believe that this new Saturday morning set-up is a world first and we would love for you and your family to be part of it!

Please register your kid's interest for joining the program here:

Paul Away & update on the back injury (including some useful stats we can hopefully all benefit from!)

Dear Swimmers

Whilst Paul's away, the mice will play!

As you're probably aware, I will be away from the squad from Monday 13th May and returning Friday 7th June. During my absence, both Coach Sally and Coach Ross will be cracking the whip, so please make sure you're still getting down, especially whilst the weather is so good!

My work itinerary sees the following:

  • Monday 13th May to Monday 20th May in Prague, Czech Republic to finalise our Swim Smooth KIDS & JUNIORS program (more on this in another post)
  • Monday 20th May to Tuesday 4th June in Mallorca, Spain to both run two 3-day Swim Smooth Coach Education Courses and to also support the Best Festival of Open Water Swimming where I will be the guest coach alongside dual Olympic silver medallist Jazz Carlin
Sadly, due to my recent back injury, I have had to withdraw from competing in the "Best Fest" as I've done for the last 3 years, so I'm going to hone my energies into some good coverage of the event whilst having the opportunity to interview some of the best open water swimmers on the planet for our new podcast (check out our most recent one with David Davies, dual Olympic medallist and Britain's only swimmer to win an Olympic medal in the pool and open water).

I can't wait to share all of this with you!

Update on the back injury (including some useful stats we can hopefully all benefit from!)

If you read the above Instagram post from Monday 15th April, you'll see I was somewhat gloating about the amount of hard work myself and Adam and the rest of the Swim Smooth team have been putting in recently to discover and train up the next generation of Swim Smooth Coaches. Who'd have thought, that just 5 days later and literally 3 minutes prior to heading off down south to Bremer Bay for a well-earned family holiday with Mish and the kids, I'd be lying on the drive in agony, unable to move due to a prolapsed disc in my lower back causing massive radial nerve pain down my right leg. How ironic - in recognising that holidays are important for that work / life balance we all strive to achieve, I'd obviously put myself in so much of a hole that I wasn't even able to take the holiday and the recovery that would have ensued!

After 9 days totally in bed on a HUGE amount of pain killers, I had to re-start work back on the pool deck on Monday 29th April and work / survive until my last session on Saturday 11th May. A massive thanks to doctors Kirk, Gary, Nolan, Jo, Stephen, Emma and Lorry (plus Mish, of course!) for getting me through this period, which saw multiple trips to imaging clinics, hospitals and two nerve root sleeve injections. Eventually my lower back loosened off and the nerve pain eased (somewhat) enough to contemplate the 30+ hour trip to Prague and then on to Mallorca. I usually travel cattle class (boot-strapping and all that!), but had to take an upgrade to business to ensure I could lay flat. 

The good news is I've made it to the UK (not quite Prague yet), but have not done any form of exercise for 23 days (and counting!) which is driving me nuts!! I'm totally aware that I am becoming the classic "chronic pain" case, and it's made me look at my whole work / life balance and how I might be able to modify things - I certainly can't risk another episode like this and am keen to avoid any further surgery to the microdiscectomy I had in December 2013.

So, how does this affect you all?

What we can learn about our health from our sleep patterns:

As you know, I'm an Über-geek when it comes to technology, and a few months ago I bought an Oura Ring to track my sleeping patterns. Of course, I knew the results would be "bad" having to get up 6 out of 7 mornings per week at 4.30am, but check out the results below during the period April 5th to today (13th May):

The middle (green) section is the period during when I injured my back and all I could do was lay in bed and sleep. Typically I average just under 6 hours of sleep a night (something I used to wear as a "badge of honour" believing it showed the integrity of "hard work").  During the green period I was getting more like the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The effect was incredible on what is called your Readiness Score which uses HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and aRHR (average Resting Heart Rate) to determine how well rested you are. Ironically enough, the ring kept yelling at me that I should be feeling super-human and ready to take on the world, despite being laid up in bed feeling sorry for myself!

In the period prior to the injury (when I was coaching over in the USA), my aRHR and HRV are what I'd describe as "moderately good", during the period of rehab (given all the rest), they are off the charts "good", but when returning back to my normal routine, average HR and HRV are both very "poor" indeed. This is how I've most likely been living since I started Swim Smooth in October 2004 and as I'm ageing, this gives very strong support to the notion that I need to change a few things in order to ensure I don't spiral down into a massive pit of "brokenness"!

All this data is very nice of course, but it's only of value if we do something with it of course. I haven't got an answer for that yet in my situation, but trust me, the warning bells have rung loud and clear and I'm now in a period of deep reflection looking at where I can make these adjustments.

I'd love to hear from any of you who've been through similar periods in your life which prompted change and how you went about that?

Cheers and see you all in a few weeks - hopefully in a better way than when you last saw me grimacing on pool deck!

Thanks for all your support and understanding through what has been a very tough time for me and the family especially #MrGrumpy