Thursday, July 14, 2016

Steps To Get Your (Swim) Mojo Back (Baby!) Yeah!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're having a great day and that you're enjoying this lovely midday sunshine this week…a bit better than the rain / storms of last weekend and the record-low of Wednesday morning at 0.4ºC! I don't know who was crazier that morning, me stood on pool deck for the 5.30am Red Mist session in too few garments, or those of you who rocked up for the 10 x 400 classic Red Mist set…that was a chilly jump into the water for sure! At least the pool's been pumping at 28.5-29ºC all this week to counter-balance that! A few of the other key metropolitan pools have all been struggling with temperatures in the mid/low-20s - ouch!

Like last year, the July school holidays always proves to be a time of year when a) many people go away, b) the excitement of Wimbledon / Le Tour de France on late-night TV keeps people up, and c) just general winter low-mojo leads to quieter sessions. Many of you have been able to experiment using the squad app with hopping into sessions that you wouldn't ordinarily do and that's great, I hope you've enjoyed that! 

I personally like this time of year as it gives me a chance to pull back and reflect a bit and also forces me to be a little more creative with the sessions to try to keep you enthused. I soon know if my creativity (especially airing on things like kick sets, bands only and sprinting / I.M) has pushed beyond what is being enjoyed as I usually get a few grumpy looks or the occasional pull buoy flying off in my direction. You guys become my creative compass as it were!

One such set - which on face value is incredibly monotonous - was Wednesday's 10 x 400 "Red Mist" set. I see this as the holy grail of good endurance swimming but you have to have the right mindset for it, so if you're in the "low-mojo" head space at the moment, this could potentially be the last nail in the coffin as it were! So what we did on Wednesday was ensure that everyone who showed up had to lead at least one 400m. This gave many people who haven't led before (or in a long while) the opportunity to have a go and simply do their best, irrespective of their current state of fitness. The competitive guard was down, with the notion that when he / she was leading, everyone else had to follow their pace. We weren't racing for sheep stations! This of course led to some inevitable variability in the speed of each lane, but it did prove to diffuse some of the competitive tension that we often see mid-season (in most cases anyway!).

Derek Cross - lane 4 - eloquently put it on Twitter:

Here was the set:

So for tomorrow's set - with many of you due to return from holidays - we're also going to try and keep things a little lower-key and hopefully fun and engaging too, but still offering a great workout at the same time! Here's the plan:

…we'll be doing a series of 6 blocks of 3 or 4 x 100 intervals (so nothing too long) and on progressively INCREASING recovery times. Yes, you read that correctly, increasing, not decreasing. In a manner this makes the set feel like it gets easier, but of course with a new leader for each block and increasing recovery times, you should be able to hit some really quick times at the end of the session and enjoy that feeling! James Forbes (lane 4, 530am M/T/F) hit a 58 second 100m swim (with fins) at the end of Tuesday's session - I wonder how close he can get this time around (without fins)?

Who will lead and when? We'll have one of the faster swimmers in the group lead the first set to make the very tight cycle time of the first block (likely only 3-4 seconds rest) and then have some of the faster swimmers in the group lead the last set or two as well when the pace is really cranking. Given that these are only 100m intervals with what becomes a lot of rest, you really don't need to fear coming along tomorrow, even if you're fresh back off holidays, you'll still be able to enjoy it and will probably be assigned to lead some of the middle blocks. Of course, if you don't wish to lead at all, then I'm not going to force you, but in the spirit of the "8th Rule of Swim Club" if you are there, you have to lead! Think of it as something different. When you let that competitive guard down occasionally, surprisingly positive and powerful things can happen!

It may be prudent to highlight some lane etiquette at this point too:!etiquette/c20bh - if we all keep calm and enjoy the set for what it is, all will be fine (he hopes!).

So, let's let our guard down a bit over the next few sessions and try not to feel the stress of having to perform as something which prevents you from starting back, it shouldn't! When we view the last 45 weeks of the new squad app being in place, we can see that the following top-20 attendees have all notched up in excess of 100 sessions each. That's pretty amazing! 

It really goes to show that a) no one session should make or break your continued enjoyment of swimming, and that b) consistency is key and that consistency requires a starting point at some point! Well done Top-20!

One such swimmer who was going through the doldrums a few months back was Chad who swims in the Wednesday 9.30am session. Earlier this year Chad was swimming 1:49-1:51/100m at CSS pace and seemed like he was slipping backwards. I feared Chad might even pull the pin as he didn't look like he was enjoying the feeling of falling back too much (no one does!). Over the last month or so, Chad's started to make a real resurgence it seems and in the set you will do tomorrow, was holding 1:35-1:38/100m - a tremendous turn-around. Here's what Chad says about what helped him:

After Busselton 70.3 I decided I would try and place extra focus on my swimming over winter.  During the season I can usually only manage 2 sessions a week averaging about 5.5km for the week, so the plan was to increase the number of session and the duration of each.  When planning this I forgot how cold and dark winter can be!  One upside though is that if it's raining it doesn't matter because I was going to get wet anyway.  

So I started swimming 4 times a week and most weeks swimming just over 13km.  The first week or two was tough, but the main thing that has kept me going was noticing how quickly I was improving with the extra work, firstly the distance got easier then I noticed myself getting faster.  So far I think I have taken about 8-9s/100m off my CSS pace, and for me this reward is what keeps me getting up on those cold dark mornings.  I think if people can persevere with the first few weeks of increased effort then seeing the improvement this brings will make it easier to keep getting to the pool.  Plus, the weather can only get better from here. 

…Chad's right of course, the weather will get better from here on in - here's Cottesloe at 2pm yesterday:

As Chad says, those first few weeks back require perseverance - we've all been there. My own head has fallen off so many times in the last 18 months that I've stopped counting! What helped me turn the corner was my recent ÖtillÖ swimrun race  i.e. having something to focus on and doing it for a good cause. I can't claim that I suddenly became superman and then first few sessions were depressingly slow (some 14s/100m slower than my normal, or nearly 20%!!), but you've just got to keep at it. My biggest regret of the last 18 months was totally stopping swimming / exercise this time last year when it was cold, when we were moving house, and when I was building the squad app - all necessary things of course, but there's got to come a time when you say: that's it, I'm starting now, come hell or high water!! 

Swim Smooth Perth Squad Stalwart Barrie Eaves turns 80 this week. He swims everyday and 3 times per week with the squad. His number one rule? Never stop. #BeMoreBarrie

Have a little read here of the steps that you're likely to go through getting back in: - sage advice, albeit from 6 years ago. Even our "Get Your Mojo Back" campaign from 2014 is worth a re-read here: and here: and hopefully this then becomes you:

Lastly, a bit of humour from author Bill Bryson in his book "The Road to Little Dribbling" which is quite poignant given the recent Brexit vote in the UK I think (we don't know whether we're coming or going!). Hope you enjoy, especially those of you who've enjoyed a recent European vacation!

See you on  pool deck!


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