I’ve spoken about my swimming already. And the main points really are:

  1. I have had the benefit of excellent swim coaching from the marvellous GTC coaches to date.
  2. Much of my frustration relating to being a slow swimmer and my perception of not getting anywhere stems from the fact that I have not actually been doing enough swimming to properly improve, nor do I really push myself enough.

Since upping my swimming to 3 times a week, I have noticed a change already in my swimming performance. I am also pushing myself more, and doing increasingly long sets in my weekly solitary swim (the other two sessions are group sessions). But there remains room for improvement, and Paul and I decided to try out a SwimSmooth Scotland Stroke Correction Clinic, which took place at the weekend. SwimSmooth is essentially a swim coaching system developed by Paul Newsome, a British swim coach based in Perth, Australia. Many of the principles used by SwimSmooth are ones we are familiar with – indeed British Triathlon used SwimSmooth to write their swimming curriculum for triathlon coaches. There are a few SwimSmooth accredited coaches in the UK, but only one in Scotland – Alan Cardwell, who is head coach at Lanark Triathlon Club, as well as a coach educator at Triathlon Scotland and a competitive triathlete (and multi-Ironman finisher) in his own right.

The main attraction for us attending the stroke correction clinic was that it included video stroke analysis – something I’ve always fancied having done. I think no matter how many times a coach tells you you are doing something wrong, it can be difficult to picture it exactly (or believe it!), and it’s also difficult for coaches to pick up on little things that happen under the water, or indeed too quickly to analyse properly. The clinic was a whole day, during which a small group of us had quite a lot of (useful) time in the classroom (it was literally a classroom as we were in a local high school which has a pool) discussing a variety of aspects of swimming and swimming styles, before getting in the pool for the first swimming session of the day. After an initial warm up, we were all filmed from over, and under the water, from different angles, for 100m (4 lengths) each. We then retired for lunch and there followed a fascinating 2-3 hours of analysing everyone’s videos. It is astonishing all the things you can pick up from watching the play back of the videos, especially in slow motion, not only from yourself, but of everyone’s films. Arms were all over the place, breaths were held, legs which looked relatively straight and well placed on the surface were rogue under the surface and almost all of us looked on in horror at our dreadful hand entry positions, which we had been sure were near perfect prior to watching the footage.

Following our enlightenment, we got back in the pool for some drills and swimming matched to our deficiencies and then a final round up at the end of the day, before heading home with lots to think about, armed with the footage to look back on.

Much of what I was told was not necessarily news to me – my arms apparently flap about all over the place and I see now why Duggie is always shouting ‘lengthen out your legs and kick from your bum not your knees!’ (I thought they were perfectly straight before), but being able to visualise the problems and see exactly what you are doing wrong and therefore how to fix it I think was invaluable. This was a really useful day, and again I would thoroughly recommend, as an adjunct to regular swim sessions, to anyone who gets the chance. And just to make you all feel a bit better (I won’t show you the whole video because it’s mostly interesting just for me) here are a few examples of my failings. Credit to Alan Cardwell for the footage (I’ve taken a couple of stills out of the film).

swim 2

Bent leg at the back, left wrist higher than elbow.

swim 1

Right arm way out to the side, no bubbles from mouth/nose (holding my breath).

swim 3

Bendy right leg again. Right hand higher than wrist, higher than elbow.

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