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


Funky new swim caps coming your way with the 10 week winter program starting Monday 10th June!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're doing well. Here's my office right now, sat at the foot of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London (the scene of the triathlon and open water swimming events at the 2012 Olympics) prior to my flight over to Prague to finalise our Swim Smooth Kids & Juniors program (more on that in another post, shortly):

Funky new, reversible Swim Smooth silicon caps - a gift from us to you!

I wanted to keep you posted on the funky new swim caps we have coming your way...

...the artwork has been done and the first prototype has been made (they need brightening up a bit as you'll see), but if you're a current / active member of the squad, you'll be receiving one of these FREE cool new caps and be encouraged to wear them at each squad session. Why, you ask? Because they're reversible and aimed at being a fun way for you to show myself and the other coaches as well as your swimming buddies, what sort of mood you're in:

  • BLUE = I'm good to go and ready to rock this place! I'm charged up, I want to lead with that beeper and / or I want your feedback on my stroke*
  • ORANGE = I'm quite happy to take a bit of a back seat today...Rome wasn't built in a day and I'd prefer just to keep a low profile, thank you very much...don't even think about giving me that beeper!
*during technique sessions

I am sure this will be a bit of fun - even a bit of a social "experiment" - and I'm hoping you'll take it in that capacity and have a little laugh with us every time you don your new silicon Swim Smooth cap (super comfy!)...and yes, you can change your mind mid-session too and switch it around!!

The caps will be with us for the start of the new Swim Smooth Perth Winter Program, details of which are further below.

Fun challenge:

What might be fun to do, is for you to tally up how many times you wear blue vs orange over the course of the 10 week program...something to try at least!

Here's the look:

As every good GOT (Game of Thrones) fan knows, Winter is coming...

As we tail off into the winter, don't let that curtail the healthy habits you've established with regular swim squad attendance. Buoyed up with your cool new Swim Smooth Perth silicon swim cap, you'll be inspired to hit our crowd-favourite winter program running (or swimming!).

The winter program will commence on the 10th June and run for 10 weeks until the 18th August, just in time for you to then start thinking about ramping things up for the spring!

Whilst we have been trialling the mini whiteboards on pool deck in a random session order number, when we commence the program we'll be following these faithfully, in order, to guide us forwards. These sessions have been carefully selected as being both liked by you guys (from your feedback over the last 12-18 months) and also beneficial given their content.

The advantage of the mini whiteboards are:

  1. for those of you in lanes 1 and 4 you will always be able to see what's coming up even though you might not have a direct view of the board
  2. during Pure Technique sessions, this will allow you to work through the set session at your own pace, allowing myself or any of the other coaches to spend better time giving you valuable feedback on your strokes or better demonstrations of the exercises
  3. this will all be keyed up with FREE access for every member of the squad from June to the Standard license of the the advantage of which is that we can email through quick video links to watch through drills or technique focal points pre-session for you to really maximise your time in the squad

As ever, your feedback on each session will be really valuable - we'd love to get to the stage where you could hit a button (like above) as you leave each session, thus better catering to your needs and wants!!! Albeit, sometimes the stuff you don't necessarily like can be some of the best stuff for you!

You can watch more about the idea of us trying to make improvements for the benefit of your enjoyment of the squad here: