Thursday, December 20, 2018

Raising $40,000 USD for the Bali-Hope SwimRun Challenge

Dear Swimmers

I hope you are all enjoying the amazing weather and looking forward to a great Christmas! I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank you all for another awesome year down at the Claremont Pool with the Swim Smooth Perth Squad and to acknowledge all your hard work and dedication in the various challenging swim sets we've done this year (some 611 of them!!). 

I often wonder how cool it'd be if we could have one of these for you to tap after each session:

...which would allow me to monitor which sessions were the most enjoyable on your part...but then I realise that sometimes, doing the hard stuff and the stuff you'd never do by yourself at 530am on a cold winter's morning, is a truer test of someone's grit, determination and commitment to their health and something that you should always feel virtuous about having done so. It never ceases to amaze me how relatively few grumbles we get (there are inevitably a few!) - most of you just get in and get on and perhaps this is a motto for life itself... the hard stuff, get it done, make a change...

...and this is precisely what myself and Brad Smith had the opportunity to do a couple of weeks ago up in Nusa Lembongan - raising awareness of the plastics in the ocean issue facing Indonesia primarily and also the local education in the schools and businesses on how to tackle this problem for future generations.

Now, if I simply told you I was invited to head up to Bali last weekend as an ambassador and sponsor for a new SwimRun event there following my participation in the ÖtillÖ World Championships in December, and then showed you these few photos of where we were staying, you'd have a tough job of not deciphering this as simply a jolly holiday for Coach Paul as opposed to a work trip - and that's where you'd be right - this was so much more than simply a work trip, it was about making change happen and something I was super-proud to have been part of. Nevertheless, here are some of the views - stunning!

Tom Hickman (the event's founder and driving force for change in the way plastics are managed and recycled on the island of Nusa Lembongan) featured on our 2nd podcast (link: Podcast 2) and was a temple of enthusiasm for this worthy cause, bringing athletes and those wanting to help make change together for a fun-filled, insightful 5 days in this beautiful part of the world.

Tom's t-shirt says it all: Temple of Enthusiasm

This all being said, I couldn't help but feel a tad bit guilty leaving Mish and the kids at home and also you all on pool deck whilst I jetted off to sunny Bali, but I knew there was work to be done and a race to complete!

Day 1 - arrival:

We arrived in Bali and were immediately whisked off to our hotel in Sanur where we met all the other teams with this one shared vision:

10 teams of 2 had been selected to race the event and help with the charity work including:

  • Annika & Peter - Annika is a multiple ÖtillÖ World SwimRun Champion who would be sure to be the ones setting the pace on Saturday's race which comprised 3km of swimming and 20km of running in the very oppressive Bali conditions of 32ºC / 90% humidity ambient and 33-34ºC water temperature (like a bath!). She was teaming up with Peter who was a cool 35+ minutes ahead of me and Andy back in September in Sweden and one of the top-ranked male SwimRunners in the world.
  • Rosanna & Inge - both race at an elite level within triathlon and Ironman events and were super-acclimated to the conditions. Rosanna spent 6 years sailing around the world on a yacht with her young family and now lives an enviable lifestyle in Ullawatu. Inge did a fabulous and very memorable press-conference after the event, discussing the issues facing the Balinese.
  • Jackson & Josh - self-proclaimed "digital nomads", these likeable lads travel the world on the strength of their respective 317,000+ Instagram accounts, documenting their travels and their eco-warrior mission which totally aligned with the mission of the Bali-Hope event. In many ways, they are doing what I was doing 17 years ago prior to arriving in Perth - living life out of a backpack but documenting it in a way with such professionalism that I was blown away. Jackson's Instagram account is well worth a look as is Josh's book "Why Don't You?", which at the tender age of just 22 is pretty darn amazing to have that level of insight. Despite living out of backpacks, these boys can really run (as we were about to find out!), as Josh won the inaugural Bali Ultra-marathon back in May which has to be run overnight given the intense heat.
  • Andy & Kelly - Andy is a former swimming Olympian and Kelly is a model / actress who features in some amazing TV dramas (like Grise, HBO) and movies as well as being a brand ambassador for sun safety through Nivea - both Andy & Kelly are sponsored through the wetsuit company we part-own, HUUB Design.
  • Kara & Nina - these brilliant ladies raised a staggering $10,000 USD (and counting!) for the Bali-Hope event and are super strong triathletes from Victoria. Kara did a brilliant job of facilitating the team bonding exercises that we all participated in to help break the ice and get us all focused on our objectives for helping the Nusa Lembongan region. She runs a fitness and strength training program on the Bass Coast, VIC, so knows her onions.
  • Lezlea & Adele - both Lezlea and Nina are very good runners but were a little apprehensive about how the swim might go - they needn't have been. Myself and Brad took the girls for a practice session a couple of days before the main event, focusing on some simple cues to keep the stroke working well and them working well together. Something worked as they did really well! Both ladies are ex-pats living in Bali for a good portion of each year and met each other in shared-space work environment in Canguu. 
  • Patrick & Fanny - we were staying with Patrick and Fanny, arguably the two strongest competitors in the field, both specialising in crazy CrossFit-style regimes and generally doing amazing things with the strength of their bodies. They had a fair bit of SwimRun experience between them also having tackled the super-tough Rockman race in the Pyrenees, France. They were racing as "Team Lost" and have a simply massive social media following - well worth a visit to some of their cool videos here.
  • Isobel & Wayne - Wayne goes by the handle "The Rogue Adventurer - Going Places, Running Races" and his tagline "in order for us to grow and learn we MUST take on challenges that radically expand our sense of what truly is possible" really epitomised what we were all about to take on there in Nusa Lembongan. Isobel is a fellow Brit hailing from a similar part of the UK to me (i.e. very hilly!) so I knew she'd be up for the challenge of the tough Bali conditions.
  • Kyron & Logan - Kyron also completed the inaugural Bali Ultra-marathon back in May and had returned to Bali with his eldest brother Logan who currently lives in Perth. Both are originally from New Zealand and have a thing about the Haka dance (see below). Logan's story was arguably the most inspiring of the entire team - a big unit and someone who was purely there to complete rather than compete, but Logan's "win" wasn't the physicality's of the race itself, but the fact that he'd overcome serious drug and alcohol addiction, time in trouble with the police and to use his own introductory words, "I've basically not been a very nice person most of my life and have f&*ked most of it up!" to be with us in Bali. You couldn't help but admire the guy, who now works with AA here in Perth's northern suburbs. Here's Logan crossing the finish-line on the Saturday - talk about a release of pressure:

Day 2 - transfer to Nusa Lembongan:

Arriving on Nusa Lembongan

With Andy Wibowo, Olympian

Getting into the swing of island life!

We travelled over to Nusa Lembongan and got a real feel for the place, including both the climate (hot and VERY humid!) as well as the level of plastic pollution in the streets and on the beaches (off the charts!). Coming back to this view though made it hard to imagine why things were ever left to get this bad:


...less than so!

Day 3 - education: REUSE, RECYCLE and REFUSE:

After a morning fine-tuning our race gear for the following days's race, it was off to a local primary school to aid with the efforts of educating the young children on better ways to manage their waste, including: REUSE, RECYCLE and REFUSE.

We were invited into the children's classrooms and involved in a round-class discussion about the issues of plastic mis-management. We also had the chance to help the children create posters with recycled material to further help them understand what needed to be done. A highlight for me was helping the older children use Microsoft Excel (I'm a geek, what can I say?!) to create a spreadsheet to work out just how much waste was being generated and collected in their local area each day - 3 tonnes! Staggering. 

What was really sad was the realisation that despite every child clearly understanding the message, the hope that they'd be then able to take this message back to their families presents a huge cultural / generational issue as often their voices simply aren't heard once back at home (so we were told).

Before leaving the school, we were each presented with a special gift of a ceremonial sari and an individually drawn thank you letter to each of us for helping out. It was lovely.

Brad receiving his gifts

We then headed over to the local recycling plant, Waryu Segara, to get an appreciation of the mammoth task they are facing with the clean-up of the island - off the charts:

Day 4 - race day:

By the time race day finally rolled around, my whole perspective of what I was actually over there in Bali to do had changed completely. 

If you'd asked me before I had left, I'd have told you I was over there to race with Brad in the idyllic locales and to do a bit of "charity work". Of course, I'd have told you that the charity work was a big deal (to justify my trip up there and make me feel less guilty about going), but to be perfectly frank, prior to  being involved with the Bali-Hope event, I was very ignorant to the issues we are all facing with the over-use, mis-use and mis-management of plastics in our environment. I'd gladly accept a plastic bag at Coles rather than remember to bring my re-usable hemp over-the-shoulder affair. 

Recycling was something "other people do". I felt slightly justified in this knowing that I'd lived for 5 years in the City of Stirling, Perth, where it was discovered that for 3 years (despite Mish enforcing us to separate waste at home), we had to put it all into one wheelie bin which supposedly the city would further separate at their end. Of course this seemed non-sensical to me and when I found out they hadn't actually been doing that, it further felt like a waste of time me doing "my part". This was the conversation I always then had with myself, sad but true. 

I'm not an eco-warrior (nor do I profess to being - even now), but seeing what we saw in Bali and having the interactions that we did with the community and their education has profoundly affected my approach to how I see things now that I'm back in Australia. Suddenly, Day 4's race seemed superfluous to the bigger picture of what we were truly there for - to help raise awareness by being willing to literally swim and run our way through litter-laden idylls - getting wrapped up in a floating black bin liner as we practiced-swam our way across to Cenigan was the real eye-opener here! I thought it was a shark!! I'm not sure which is actually worse!

And so to the race, and true to my point about it being somewhat superfluous, here's what happened in a blow-by-blow bullet account:

  • the plan was for me to the lead the first 500m swim as I've been swimming well lately with all the gear on. The mission was to try and stay with the Swedish pair of Annika and Peter, but not pull ahead...we knew the attrition rate would be high given the climate!
  • 200m into the first swim and Brad literally gets snagged on a fishing line, unable to progress any further - the Swedes disappear and I'm left dragging a dead-weight in the water until we unclip our tether which races back to me at a fine old rate of knots into my stomach
  • once clear, we give chase, but the damage has been done and we've already surrendered 30+ seconds to Annika and Peter PLUS in our stress we fail to pick up our hydration for the first run (9km in the sweltering mangroves)
  • I eventually tow Brad back up to Annika and Peter (she says candidly "ah, so nice of you to join us!"), but we're always on the back foot, trying to recoup hydration and plenty of ice at each aid station which the Swedish team do significantly better than us each time.
  • by the end of the 9km run section, we are neck and neck with the world champions and heading into the water. Brad takes the lead and tows me across the Cenigan straight in order to recoup a bit from the effort we sustained on the run. Annika and Peter power ahead and put about 20 seconds into us.
  • we are now running the 8km loop around the very hilly Cenigan but again make ground on the savvy pair ahead of us. We mimic their every move. When they started walking up the hugely steep climbs, so too did we.
  • we hit our first hurdle - the marshalls aren't sure which way to send us and we lose 2-3 minutes literally waiting for them to radio through for instructions. Brad's confident that we'll remain ahead of 3rd place (Josh and Jackson) - I don't share his positivity and sure enough they reel us all in and then take the lead.
  • by this point I'm melting and start to struggle - thank god for the additional swim at the top of Cenigan - a chance to "recover", "cool down" but most importantly use our swimming strength to move back ahead of the boys and onto the heels of Peter and Annika.
  • we still have 3km to the next long swim and I'm suffering big time - survival mode completely.
  • we reach the last swim (1000m) still (just) in 2nd place, and make a concerted effort to pull ahead of Josh and Jackson who were running like demons!
  • we lose further ground to Peter and Annika who have raced the perfect race, but hold onto our lead over 3rd place (but are running very scared up the last 2km climb) to finish second overall and a much needed beer!
  • we are not quite sure of the time gaps, but suggestions were about 2 minutes between 1st and 2nd and 2nd and 3rd. 
  • we wait for everyone to finish and see Logan do his Haka - amazing emotions all around!

3km swimming / 20km of running in the hot, hot sun!

Watch the race recap here (60 seconds)

Powering away

The swim to Cenigan

Brad pulling me home!


Finish-line sprint!

Walking up one of the massively steep climbs on Cenigan with the Swedish pros, Annika and Peter

Girl power! Annika rightly front and centre!

Goosebumps moment - Logan's Haka

Collecting 1st male team prize (2nd overall)

With the champ!

Day 5 - getting our hands dirty / homeward bound:

What's the best way to recover from such a tough event? Spend several hours in the baking heat picking up rubbish with the local school children of course! In all seriousness though, looking out at our final day's challenge seemed insurmountable but through the combined efforts of everyone involved, we did such a sterling job that a local land owner pledged on the spot to dedicate some of his land for a better managed refuge collection area - amazing!

Volunteers aplenty!

Getting our hands dirty!

Jackson looked like the messiah and had a similar sort of presence about himself - great guy!

Annika showing us how it's done!

Getting down and dirty!

It was then time to head home and back to reality.

I'd just like to say a massive thanks to everyone involved, especially Tom's superhero team of Andie, Kirsty, Margs, Debs and everyone else who made this such an amazing life-changing experience. We hope to be back again in 2019 if you'll have us?!


Paul & Brad

P.S it's still not too late to donate towards this very worth cause: 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Squad Closure over Christmas / New Year & Open Water Swims for the 930am in early 2019

Dear Swimmers

Please be advised that the final squad swim session of 2018 will be Saturday 22nd December for the Saturday Stoic Session from 0530 to 0700. We have just added this session back onto the schedule, so there are still some spaces available for what promises to be a very festive, fun session - we really hope you can join us! There will be an award for the best festive swim wear worn that morning!

The first session back after the New Year, will be the 0530 to 0700 Red Mist Endurance Session on Wednesday 2nd January, and then also the 0930 to 1030 CSS Development session. Again, we hope you can make it and work to burn off those mince pies you'll have enjoyed no doubt over the 10 day break!

There will be no 1-2-1 Video Analysis & Stroke Correction session availability during this period, per the information in the squad booking app.

Carnivals affecting 0930 sessions in 2019:

The following dates will see a switch to the 0930 squad sessions owing to the running of various carnivals at the Claremont Pool. All open water sessions will take place at Cottesloe Beach, meeting at 930am for a 945am start (to allow you - and the coach - an extra 15 minutes to make the extra distance). Please meet on the grassy bank to the north side of Indianna Tea Rooms facing out to the pylon. Wetsuits are optional but not compulsory. If in doubt of remembering these dates, your squad app will always reflect these changes (labelled "The Real McCoy: Open Water Session" ), so please take a quick glance there if you're at all unsure. Here are those dates:

  1. Wednesday 13th February will be a Red Mist Endurance Session at the pool at 0930 to 1100
  2. Friday 15th February will be a CSS Development Session at the pool at 0930 to 1030 (switched with Wednesday)
  3. Monday 18th February
  4. Wednesday 27th February
  5. Friday 1st March
  6. Wednesday 6th March
  7. Friday 8th March
  8. Wednesday 13th March
  9. Monday 18th March
  10. Friday 5th April

Please be sure to cancel out of these sessions if you do not fancy joining us for a coached session in the open water (but hopefully you do!).



P.S I am preparing a report from my recent SwimRun adventure up in Bali (just waiting on some more video from the organisers), so please stay tuned - it was a blast!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

14 years of Swim Smooth - a special, extended podcast to chart the ups and downs of the past 14 years!

Dear Swimmers

As you are probably aware, we recently launched our new Swim Smooth podcast and have just published our 4th episode which is a special extended look at the history of Swim Smooth since we launched here in sunny Perth way back in December 2004!

You can access the podcast here:

Other episodes include:

  1. Episode 1: Interview with Ironman AG World Champion and record holder, Dan Plews PhD (1h35m)
  2. Episode 2: Interview with Tom Hickman of the Bali-Hope SwimRun Challenge (0h41m)
  3. Episode 3: Interview with Dean Jackson the man / the myth / the legend behind HUUB Design (1h04m)

In today's special extended podcast (1h57m), listen to the founders of Swim Smooth (Paul Newsome and Adam Young) discuss the history of Swim Smooth itself since the creation with the very first website and DVD boxset back in 2004, right the way through Adam joining the team in 2008 and becoming the driving force in everything you know and love about Swim Smooth, all the way up to the current day and some further insight into where we're heading in the future. It's a long episode (nearly 2 hours in fact!), but should help you really understand what Swim Smooth is all about, the methodology, the concepts, some of the challenges and hurdles we've faced as well as how we've grown the program to be the coaching curriculum used and endorsed by both British Triathlon and the International Triathlon Union in 119 countries around the world!

You might find the supporting links, articles and websites in chronological order useful as a reference point:

2005 - Paul & Mish (now Paul's wife) head off around the UK running clinics and 1-2-1 sessions
2006 - the "Flame Wars" on reach boiling point between Swim Smooth and Total Immersion
2007 - Adam attends his first Swim Smooth 1-day swimmer's clinic
2008 - Paul and Adam's friendship builds and Adam drives the online presence in a way that Paul hasn't been able to do himself. Our first Learn To Swim DVD is produced in sunny Essex, UK ( ) and the idea for "Swim Types" starts to germinate.
2009 - Adam's brainchild (the Mr Smooth animation) is launched ( ). Increase in awareness of Swim Smooth starts to build, ultimately rising to a subscribership of over 125,000 weekly readers of our FREE blog
2010 - British Triathlon announces Swim Smooth as their coach education partner and the first 3-day Swim Smooth Coach Education Course ( ) is run and we officially launch 
2011 - Our third DVD, the Catch Masterclass  goes on to being the fastest selling swimming DVD on the internet and we run our first 2-week Certified Coaches Course ( ) in Perth. We partner up with HUUB Design to create the world's best wetsuit (as used by the Brownlee Brothers: )
2012 - We launch our very first Certified Swim Smooth Coaches ( ) of which we now have 48 worldwide (and growing) - make sure you register at . Wiley & Sons (the world's biggest book publishing company) approach Swim Smooth to write a book on swimming which quickly becomes one of the best selling and highest rated books on swim coaching of all time ( )
2013 - Paul wins the world's most prestigious marathon swimming event  and cements Swim Smooth in the history books as not just an effective way to swim, but a FAST way to swim too! 
2014 - The International Triathlon Union announces Swim Smooth as their coaching partner ( ) which sees Swim Smooth being put out around the world in 119 countries via the various triathlon governing bodies. We launch our biggest project to date, the Swim Smooth Guru ( )
2015 - Work commences on our Swim Smooth Kids program
2016 - The Swim Smooth Guru is refined, tweaked and improved to contain exciting new features such as CSS Tweaking and Fitness Tracking ( )
2017 - Filming commences on the Swim Smooth Kids program and we begin developing our coaching presence in the USA
2018 - We launch the new Swim Smooth podcast ( ) and also our brand new trip of a lifetime to Perth ( )

We hope you enjoy this cosy chat and finding out more about the history of Swim Smooth, whether you're joining us in the last few months or have been following us for many years!

You can also find us on @swimsmooth (Twitter / Instagram)

Paul & Adam

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Friday night is P-A-R-T-Y night!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you’re doing well this week…a bit chilly for mid-November though I have to say…the poolside thermometer read 9ºC this morning for the 5.30am squad!

Three items on today’s Blog:
  • Squad Party this Friday, 23rd November 5.30/6pm to ~10pm
  • A big congratulations to our most consistent squad swimmers in the last 12 months
  • Photo diary of our recent road trip to Kalgoorlie for your interest

Squad Christmas Party:
This Friday sees us celebrate everything that is swimming with the Swim Smooth Perth Squad (fun, friends and frivolity) and to also help us warm our new renovations as well - if you’ve attended one of the first 3 Christmas Party’s you’ll definitely notice a difference:

We kick off at 5.30/6pm on Friday 23rd November and will aim to wrap up around 10pm or when we’ve drained the last drop and scoffed the last nibble (whichever comes last!).
This year we have the following:
  • two bar staff to get me mingling more and off my heavy-handed cocktail mixing!
  • the pool (heated but please bring warm towels for the kids as the air temperature looks set to be low-mid 20s), a trampoline and some table tennis for the kids (please be sure to keep a good eye on them)
  • Mother Smooth dying to meet everyone!
  • some cool funky tunes
  • we’ll have some nibbles and wine / beer / champagne, but please feel free to BYO too as we’re never quite sure how many people will show up

…on that note, in previous years we’ve always had >100 people show up on an RSVP of 57 (max). This year we’ve got 98 RSVPs so that either tells me people are more onto the RSVPs this year, or that we’re going to have a very big turn out!! I’m thinking the latter (and slightly nervous now thinking about it!). I’m also thinking that given various events on Saturday (including the Saturday Stoic Squad Session - which will still go ahead with myself coaching), that the peak period to attend will be around 6.30pm to 8.30pm just FYI.
The key details are as follows:
  • address = 145 Alfred Road, Mount Claremont
  • time = 5.30/6pm to ~10pm
  • parking (best to get an Uber / taxi) but otherwise = on street parking on Strickland Street (south side of Alfred Road might be best) or down at the Mount Claremont Oval (600m walk up the hill) or at Deli ChiChi / Mount Claremont Bakery

Can’t wait to see those of you who can make it then!

Consistency is Key!

As my old training / racing mate Dan Plews - the new Ironman World Record Holder (8h24m) and overall Age Group Champion at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona, 2018 - clearly claims in our new podcast (link here), Consistency Is Key!” to Dan’s ability to finish 22nd overall (including all the professionals who raced) and to post the 5th fastest marathon split that day. He claims he did nothing special, other than post 22 consecutive weeks with a weekly TSS (Training Stress Score) load of over 1,000 points (which is special all in itself as those of you who use Training Peaks will know!). He states that a simple program, backed up by every session having a specific target but one which fits around his busy family and work schedule, was what produced his best performance in his 25 years of doing the sport. It was quite simply amazing and if you get chance to listen to the podcast, you’ll see just how impressed I was with my old mate from sunny Yorkshire who I’d been writing the swim component of his epic race for over the last 13 months.
We might not all be aiming for a world title (or even a world record!), but in speaking with every single high performing individual that I’ve ever been lucky enough to chat with, they all stipulate routine and consistency above all things. To that end then, I’d like to recognise the following Top-20 most consistent squad attendees for their efforts during 2018 - divide these numbers by 11 for their monthly attendances or 46 for their weekly visits, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed! Well done everyone!

I’d like to make special mention to our top male (Aitor) and female (Cobie) for their amazing commitment this year. Sadly both won’t be able to make the Squad Christmas Party on Friday (where I’d planned a little congratulatory gift and salute).

Aitor will sadly be leaving us as of today to pursue a new career in SciFi writing back in his home country of Spain, but will join our Swim Smooth program in Alicante instead, to ensure he keeps docking his Red Mist card!

…and despite spending the first part of the year recovering from major ankle surgery, Cobie has been able to recover well, getting back into her routine and has been nudging up the attendance ranks in her own “no fuss, get on with it” way throughout the middle part of the year:

Just brilliant!

On the Ghost Town hunt in Kalgoorlie!

My Mum (Mother Smooth) is currently visiting and had always wanted to take a road trip to Kalgoorlie (of all places!) so that is where I’ve been this last weekend. We had a fabulous trip and thanks to the recommendations of Gavin C and Amanda N, we also tied in a trip out to Lake Ballard (cue spooky SciFi images below of the amazing sculptures on the salt flats) and the ghost town of Gwalia too (which made the news here today). We happened to be there for the historic reopening of WA’s oldest state hotel which hadn’t been accessed for over 54 years! Amazing. Whilst 800km east of Perth is a long way to travel, such a road trip with my Mum, step-Dad, Mish, the kids and Sandy (the dog) is not something I’ll forget in a hurry, so thanks for allowing me to take an impromptu break with the family - it was awesome (except for the $38 I paid for a double gin and tonic on the last night!!). Here’s some photos for your interest:

Cattle crossing!

The village of Westonia - where the Goldfields and the Wheat Belt meet (apparently!)

Road trippin’ with their best mate!

No frills camping - the only way! Come and meet Mother Smooth and Grandad Stevie this Friday at the party!

Larking around!

Lake Ballard

The Super Pit…it was super big!

Cranking up the mercury at 38ºC!

A friendly Preying Mantis

Sons of Gwalia mine

Awesome history to discover!

The $38 gin and tonic…nothing special about it (not even any cucumber!)

Tent fun!

My new car...

…the car I wish I had!

More Lake Ballard...

A photographer’s paradise!



Thanks for reading!