Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Long Weekend and Tuesday Evenings

Dear Swimmers

I just can't get over how great this weather is at the moment - I know we need rain but it is just glorious for swimming at the moment. You'll also probably appreciate the Claremont Pool being a smidgen warmer at the moment as well to account for those colder mornings we've been having.

Tuesday Evenings with Sandy, now 6.15pm to 7.15pm:

Sandy brought it to my attention that for some of you whom have been swimming in the 6.30pm Tuesday session that it's proving a little inconvenient having to rush through the latter stages of the session and also not be able to use the showers afterwards as the pool closes bang on 7.30pm. 

I brought this to the Pool Manager's attention and what we have decided to do is start this session 15 minutes earlier at 6.15pm. Sandy will be set-up in lanes 5 & 6 from 6.15pm and when Chris's group (Kirby Swim) finish at 6.30pm he'll migrate across to lanes 7 & 8 (and 6 if numbers warrant it). This should work in perfectly with when everyone finishes the warm-up in readiness for the main set and allow you to feel unhurried completing the session. Personally I find rushing to finish a session adds stress to what should otherwise be an enjoyable experience, so I hope this helps and allows you to pamper yourself in the showers afterwards with that 15 minute window this creates!

Sandy informs me that some of you sometimes struggle to get there for bang-on 6.30pm though, however, you can still turn-up from 6.30pm, get straight into the main set (as Sandy instructs, which is normally quite light and technique focused on a Tuesday anyway) and then if you wish, complete what you've missed in the warm-up in that 15 minute window that remains after the session officially finishes, obviously with the caveat that you'll sacrifice any showering time in doing so. I hope this is a good compromise for everyone?

Lastly, it's obviously tougher to get out of bed in the early morning during winter, so if you are down to attend the 5.30am or 6.30am sessions on a Tuesday, but for whatever reason miss them and then feel "guilty" later on (!) you are more than welcome to attend in the evening at 6.15pm instead and still complete the same session. This might be particularly useful for those working on long projects at the moment who would otherwise feel they've missed a session on a Tuesday morning with a sleep-in.

Please pass on this information to your friends.

The Long Weekend:

We're very fortunate enough to be spending 4 nights down in Gnarabup this weekend as a little getaway courtesy of Jane Davis from the 9.30am squad who has kindly loaned us the use of her beautiful Gnarabup Beach House however, we have decided not to cancel any of the sessions this weekend as I have it on good understanding that many of you will still be around this weekend and want to keep your swimming going. As such, this is how the sessions will pan out:

  • Friday 1st June - 5.30am & 6.30am Fresh & Fruity squads* with Sally Scaffidi
  • Friday 1st June - 9.30am Technique squad with Sandy Burt
  • Saturday 2nd June - 1pm Open Water Skills Session with Sally Scaffidi
  • Monday 4th June - 7am & 9.30am Technique squad with Sandy Burt

*just as a bit of a heads-up about this Friday, the session is going to be a cracker! As we can see here...

...I thought you'd like to see the idea behind this set. The session is nothing but 100m intervals and all 4 lanes will follow a similar format. The beepers will be handed out to the leader who will have to BEAT THE BEEPER as it will be set to a 25m cycle time, the idea being for example that lane 4 (in this example - will be different times on Friday!) will start off with 4 (top left corner of each box) x 100m with the beeper set to beep every 28 seconds (green writing) which means that the actual send-off time per 100m would be 1:52 in this example, typically giving you ~25 seconds rest on the first set. The idea is to hold your fastest maintainable time such that you get as much rest as possible between each interval. After 4 x 100m the beeper will be reduced from 28 seconds to 27 seconds and as such (assuming you hold the same pace as the first set of 4) you will get 4 seconds less rest at the end of each 100m. The beeper is very easy to change, just press the bottom left button once and this will reduce the time per 25m by precisely one second. As such it becomes increasingly hard to hold the same pace as your rest reduces such that on the final set you'll only be getting ~4 to 8s rest between each 100m. The crew this morning loved it and so I'm hoping you will to!

Quick tip - aim for about the normal threshold pace you've been doing on a Friday - try to avoid going off too fast, but equally, try not to be too conservative either - the effort will build during the set (as usual!).

Have a great weekend and I'll see you back on Tuesday at 5.30am - bright and breezy!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Limber-up this Saturday at 12.15pm!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're enjoying this awesome autumnal weather - pretty lucky aren't we?!

Anyway, just a quick email seeking your assistance. As you'll probably have realised, myself and Adam have been doing quite a bit of filming for a new project recently and were hoping to get some video of me conducting a suitable stretching session for swimmers and triathletes at Claremont Pool this Saturday from 12.15pm (immediately prior to the 1-2pm squad session). We're hoping to get together maybe 8 to 15 people to partake in this session which I will deliver and present to camera a-la "Aerobics Oz Style" (without the leotards!). It'll be a lot of fun and very useful as a warm-up in itself to the squad session.

Can you help? If so, please flick me a quick reply on the email and we'll see you at Claremont Pool on Saturday from 12.15pm. Thanks!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Apologies once again...

Dear Swimmers

It is with much regret and massive frustration on my part that we were not able to run the 5.30am Friday morning session yesterday again given that the same Duty Manager failed to turn up to open up the Claremont Pool that did not show 3 weeks ago.

Please rest assured that I have taken this complaint to the Centre Manager and also to the council as I feel it is totally unacceptable. I do sincerely apologise if you were put out by this again yesterday. 

On the last occurrence I apologised and promised you it wouldn't happen again, and so to have it happen again so soon afterwards makes me personally feel rather stupid.

Thank you to those of you who stayed around and were able to start the session at 6.10am (40 minutes late). Of course I did not feel comfortable charging for this session once again and I believe that the pool allowed free access also in order to partly compensate for your inconvenience.

Sincere thanks to the 6.30am squad for accommodating the small number of swimmers from the 5.30am squad who overlapped with the start of your session as I do appreciate that it was massively chaotic and somewhat frustrating for you too.

It is hard enough at this time of year to get out of bed for a 5.30am start when the temperature gauge is reading in the single digits, and I can only imagine how your confidence in the reliability of this early morning session could easily wane in light of these incidents. I personally feel like the strongest part of our squad is the reliability factor - you always know that I'll be there and that the session will be of good quality and enjoyable too. This is something that I've worked extremely hard to build at Claremont Pool over the last 4 years and to have it compromised in such a manner is very annoying for me. I can only ask that you please do not give up hope and confidence.

Thanks for hearing me out. The pool has promised a resolve by Wednesday of next week.

Sean Badani, Centre Manager, has suggested that you contact him directly on or 9285 4343 if you felt the need to discuss the matter directly with him, however, I am hoping that we should see a positive step forward with this situation now.

Kind regards


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Awesome article from Chrissie Wellington

Needing a mental kick up the bum or just some inspiration for tomorrows Fresh & Fruity session? Check out:

Some very sage advice from arguably the best long distance triathlete the world has seen.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Eyesport Study

Dear Swimmers

There's been some great turn-outs in the last week despite the weather cooling down  notch or two - thanks for supporting us in the winter months, it's very much appreciated.

I've just been passed the email below from Fran in the Tue/Fri 6.30am squad (Lane 1) who is hoping some of us from the squad can help out?? Looks like an interesting study. Details in the attachments.

Have a great week!

Begin forwarded message:

From: Waddells <>
Date: 15 May 2012 7:59:43 PM AWST
To: 'Swim Smooth Perth Squad Blog' <>
Subject: Eyesport Study

Hi Paul,
Here is the information about that study I mentioned to you last week.  UWA and the Lion's Eye Institute are looking for participants, over the age of 18yrs, to be involved in a research project looking at eye protection in swimming and outdoor sporting activities. Hopefully some of the Swim Smooth squad members might be interested in participating.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sensational results down in Busselton

Dear Swimmers

I've just arrived back from the 2012 Busselton 70.3 Half Ironman and what a great weekend it was! More about the infamous swim discipline in a moment...

We had some sensational results from within the squad and the new "Performance Squad" I established in December 2011, the most notable being:

Overall PRO / Open:

  • 2nd overall PRO female = Kate Bevilaqua (with an amazing joint 2nd place exit out of the water!)
  • 6th overall PRO male = Mike Gee
  • 7th overall PRO male = Guy Crawford

  • 2nd open male = Tom Bakowski

Age Group Awards:

  • 1st = Helen King (female 18-24)
  • 2nd = Andy Tyack (male 18-24)
  • 1st = Anna-lee Hazell (female 25-29)
  • 1st = Lisa Delaurentis (female 30-34)
  • 2nd = Luke Cameron (male 18-24)
  • 1st = Janine Willis (female 35-39)
  • 3rd = Pam Criddle (female 35-39)
  • 2nd = Cyndy Hetrick (female 45-49)
  • 2nd = Janet Ferguson (female 50-54)
  • 1st = Anne Murrell (female 55-59)


  • 5th place female team "Lady Power" = Michelle Newsome (swim), Sue-ann Anderson (bike), Ceinwen Williams (run)

NB. keen to hear how other team members from within the squad went as it's a little hard to check these results against the wacky names you come up with!

Fastest Individual Discipline Times:

  • 2nd fastest female swimmer = Anna-lee Hazell
  • 1st fastest male cyclist = Matt Illingworth

Well done to all those of you who competed, especially those of you who completed your first Half Ironman event!

Now onto the was eventful...!

If you check the sketch out which I did immediately after watching the elite wave finish (and for the benefit of some of the team swimmers who went later), it really was arguably one of the hardest swims this race has ever seen with most swimmers being (on average) 5-7 minutes slower than in previous years. Even last year's fastest swimmer (our very own Guy Crawford) was 3 minutes slower than last year, and when I saw this (and knowing Guy's strength), I knew immediately it was going to be a long swim in the water for everyone. Unlike in some races where the race distance can be questionable, I am confident that this race was set-up as 1.9km exactly as billed - whether or not some of the buoys drifted due to the strong wind and swell is a different matter, but what undoubtedly caused the slow times were a combination of the following factors which you might like to heed for future races / years:

  1. The night before had been very stormy and a strong wind was blowing from left to right across the course. This produced significant surface chop which may have assisted swimmers on the long stretch on the way out (tail wind), but would have severely impeded progress on the way back (head wind). Such conditions make sighting very difficult indeed (as thus the ability to keep straight) as well as making it almost impossible to get into a good rhythm. Those swimmers that really excel in these conditions are our Swinger swim type ( - having a higher natural stroke rate), with the Overgliders and Kicktastics typically really struggling. This was highlighted perfectly by Anna-lee Hazell (a brilliant Swinger) picking up the 2nd fastest overall swim time of the day - well done Anna-lee! A higher, straighter arm recovery compared with the classic pool swimmers's high elbow recovery ensures that the arms consistently clear the surface of the water and that momentum is maintained.
  2. The large swell pushed swimmers towards the shore on the return leg in particular and many swimmers then struggled to hold the straight line (about 150m off shore) to the final pointed yellow buoy. We saw countless numbers of swimmers (of all abilities) being told to swim back out (~150m) to complete the course as they had totally missed this final buoy. This of course added at least another 3 minutes to most swim times. Frustrating for many but for those more savvy to the conditions, this proved to be a real boost to their relative performance. Again, those with strong surf swimming backgrounds really excelled in these conditions, a-la Anna-lee Hazell.
  3. The PRO and Open waves had a distinct advantage over the Age Group and Team waves that followed in that they set-off in very overcast / dark conditions. Those setting off after 7.10am had to deal with the fact that the rising sun began to poke through the clouds directly into the swimmers's eyes on the outward bound leg, making sighting nigh-on impossible. In these scenarios, a good, balanced stroke really pays dividends as your confidence in your ability to hold a straight line without the ability to sight is key. Bilateral breathing was advantageous on this leg, however, given the fact that the swell was hitting hard in this direction from the left, swimmers had to elect to breathe predominantly to the right on the outward leg and then predominantly to the left on the return - obviously those who have the flexibility in their stroke to do both are at a major advantage.

All-in-all it was not a day for fast swim times, but as I managed to say to many swimmers before they hit the rough conditions, what ultimately determines your success in those conditions is how you approach the swim from a psychological perspective. Janine Willis had clearly identified just how dearly she wanted to finally break the magic 30 minute barrier for the swim. Her training and improvement in the pool and open water has been going stunningly well recently and I was confident that she could do it. However, upon seeing the conditions Janine was very realistic about the chances of achieving this time, so shelved this time orientated goal and just put her head down and ploughed through the waves - she was rewarded with a simply brilliant first place exit out of the water in the first of the main female waves...beating one of the swimmers by 2 minutes whom Janine had put on a pedestal of being "unbeatable" - well done Janine - an inspiring result. Janine's time was just under 3.5 minutes slower than she had hoped, but relative to others in her age-group it set her up to win the whole race in her Age Group. 

Massive credit is also due to Anne Murrell who similarly tackled the swim with gusto and shelved her fears of the conditions to get through and also win her Age Group. Tom Bakowski certainly didn't enjoy the swim and seemed very frustrated upon exit, but I was personally massively impressed by how he turned around what could have been a very negative start to his race to come through and finish 2nd overall in the coveted Open Male category - well done that man for keeping his head!

I'd love to hear your stories from the swim if you're keen to send them over....

OK, so it's back to business on the pool deck this week. It might be the end of the triathlon season here in Perth and the start of the winter, but you can be assured that we'll be keeping everything pumping as normal! Come on down - next year it could be you winning your Age Group!



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Good luck to all those racing at Busselton 70.3 this weekend!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you've all had a great week...just Friday to go! For some of you it's only two sleeps before you race (possibly for the first time) at the Busselton Half Ironman event - good luck to all of you who are competing. We'll be down there supporting and cheering you on all the way!

With that in mind we have elected to cancel this Saturday's (5th May) 1-2pm squad session at Claremont Pool knowing that many of you who have been attending recently have been training up for the Half Ironman. We will resume this session (and keep it running over winter) on Saturday 12th May.

Top tip for this weekend from Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, either way you are right!

Good luck!