The Case Against Breathing Every Two Strokes - Does Your Stroke Look Like This?

Sam with Paul (left) and Adam on
the Sydney 3 Day Coach Ed Course
First up, you'll be very pleased to know that the Swim Smooth Podcast is back!

Yesterday Paul and Adam released their brand new interview with Pro Triathlete Sam Bradley (formerly Warriner) to your favourite blogging platform:

Sam gives us her insight into her highly successful coaching philosophy and what made the biggest difference to her as an athlete at the highest level of the sport, culminating in her ITU World Cup series win and a Commonwealth Games silver medal.

A great listen!

The Case Against Breathing To One Side Every Two Strokes

Do you always breathe to the same side every 2 strokes? If you do then you have multiple challenges developing your swimming.

Over time the act of rotating to breathe to one side tends to develop more and more rotation of your shoulders and hips to that side. Without any non-breathing strokes to help counter-balance this, you tend to over-rotate to your breathing side, beyond the recommended 45-60 degrees of rotation:

This over-rotation causes a loss of balance in the stroke and your legs to scissor kick apart to regain that balance, in turn creating huge drag at the back of the stroke:

Conversely on the non-breathing side your rotation never develops properly and you become very flat:

That makes the recovering arm swing around the side and have a strong tendency to cross-over the centre line on hand entry, causing you to snake down the pool:

But the bad news doesn't end there! Whilst you are breathing your focus tends to be heavily on making sure you get a breath in, so by breathing every two you never provide any focus on the catch from the lead arm at that point in the stroke. As we can see here that means the catch never properly develops, in this case collapsing downwards without any real purchase on the water:

If you were breathing every three strokes then two out of three strokes on that arm would be on non-breathing strokes so you would have a good opportunity to develop your catch technique on each arm.

Interestingly enough, on our Sydney Coach-Ed course, podcast guest Sam Warriner tried swapping her breathing pattern from her dominant right-side-every-two pattern to breathing to her left. She was instantly 3-4 seconds per 100m quicker! For an athlete of her level that's a huge improvement, despite it feeling much less natural to that side. All because it allowed her to improve her catch with her left arm.

All That Because You Only Ever Breathe To One Side!

This sequence of cause-and-effect stroke flaws is incredibly common with unilateral breathers:

So common in fact that we refer to this stroke pattern as the "Classic Unilateral Breather Stroke". Next time you are at the pool take a few minutes to sit in the stands and watch some of the swimmers - you'll see this stroke everywhere.

How do you fix this? A key part of the process is to learn to breathe every 3 strokes to balance out your symmetry and give yourself a decent chance of improving these technical aspects of your stroke.

Many swimmers have tried bilateral breathing and failed to conquer it, simply finding it too hard to sustain. If that's you then don't miss next week's post - we're going to look at the key reasons why swimmers find bilateral breathing hard and how to overcome them.

There's definitely some initial challenges with learning to breathe every three but as you can see above, the benefits are huge. More on that next week!

Swim Smooth!

The BMI Chart Part 3 - Elite Swimmers & The Rich Roll Podcast

Newsflash: Check out the latest เกมยิงปลา HappyFishingRich Roll Podcast featuring Chris Hauth, one of the world's most respected endurance and ultra endurance coaches. It's a great listen as always; here's a quick excerpt from their discussion on swimming:

RR: I think the biggest mistake most inexperienced swimmers and triathletes make is they’re so worried about their conditioning and their fitness that they just want to get in the water and swim back and forth for a certain amount of time to feel like they got a workout in. There’s no structure to the workout, no intentionality behind it and at the same time they’re not working on their fundamentals or their stroke technique…they’re fighting the water… they don’t understand how to make the water work for them.

CH: There’s also a few programs out there - I really like the Swim Smooth program - they have animations, so a lot of it you can swim on your own, and they also have Certified Swim Smooth Coaches around the country and the world who you can then schedule video sessions and 1-2-1 time with. And what’s really cool about those Swim Smooth Certified Coaches is that they often run a Master’s Program on the side as well that you can join… seeing yourself swim, working with animation and getting 1-2-1 instruction - combine all 3 of those and you’re going to learn a lot quicker than working on your own.

Listen here:

And find your nearest Swim Smooth Coach here:

The BMI Chart Part 3 - Elite Swimmers

A few weeks ago on the blog we took a look at the "Swim Smooth BMI Chart" and how you can use it to assess your own stroke technique: Is your stroke too long and slow, too short and fast, or about right?

But where are elite swimmers placed? Where do some famous freestyle performances lie on the chart?

Of course, being super-fast, elite swimmers are all on the right hand side of the chart, so let's expand out the red box area:

And add in some famous swimming performances:

All of these data points are Olympic medal-winning or world record performances from 200m to 1500m swims. The triathlon performances are in open water.

The Y axis on the chart is how many strokes each swimmer takes per minute (not per length). This is equivalent to cadence on the bike. You might be surprised at the large range of stroke rates these swimmers employ but it just goes to show that there's more than one way to swim effectively depending on your height and build (more on that below).

As you would expect, these performances lie within the confines of the white zone of the chart (or very slightly outside in the case of Janet Evans and Emma Snowsill). Remember, this is the area where your stroke is "about right" - neither too fast or too slow for the speed which you are swimming.

We would split out these swimmers into two groups. The "Smooths" such as Michael Phelps and Grant Hackett who are swimming with that classical long smooth style (blue circle). And the "Swingers" (red circle) such as Janet Evans, Laure Manadou and Emma Snowsill, using a shorter punchier stroke and a much faster turnover:

Find out more about each of those styles at and

Also note the large variation in their heights:

There's a definite trend of shorter swimmers using a faster stroke rate and taller swimmers a longer style. This explains why Emma Snowsill and Janet Evans are both edging slightly into the red zone - both are short by elite swimmer standards and simply have to turn their arms over more quickly to develop their race-winning speed. Fortunately they can do that without fighting the water.

Swim Smooth!

Changing The World Of Swimming 20 Coaches At A Time

ATTENTION SWIMMERS! - We still have 7 places available on our special one day stroke correction clinics at The Best Centre, Mallorca on May 25th and June 3rd. Each clinic will be run by SS Head Coach Paul Newsome - a very rare opportunity to have Paul correct your stroke in this sensational location! Don't miss out: เกมยิงปลา

Changing The World Of Swimming 20 Coaches At A Time

Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young have just completed a whirlwind tour of the USA and Australia, running two editions of the SS 3 Day Coach Education Course with 20 coaches each at Nike World Headquarters in Portland Oregon and at the beautiful ABC Pool in Sydney.

We thought you might like to see some of what we got up to over the 3 days on each course as we took the coaches through Swim Smooth stroke correction processes, training methods and open water skills.

If you would like to join us on a future edition of the course, make sure you are a member of our Coaches Network and you'll get invited to apply for the next series:

This is a unique course that has the power to change the direction of your coaching forever:

The Portland coaching crew with coaches from the US, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand.

Dazzled by the morning sun - the Sydney coaching group with attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Classroom time - Paul gets started with the group in the Portland on day 1.

Day 1 let's get those coaches into the water to try some key Swim Smooth drills.

Paul talks hand entry.

Pro triathlete and coach Sam Warriner gets to work in the water.

No immediate shortage of equipment on the Sydney pool deck.

Talking posture and alignment in Portland.

Each course features two live stroke correction sessions with volunteer swimmers. It's amazing
what you can achieve in 75 mins with a swimmer with the right focus and process.

Facebook live: Coach Mike keeps his squad back in Kentucky up to date with what he's up to in Portland.

A huge thanks to Nike for hosting us at their amazing campus in Portland.

Day 3 of the Coach Ed Course features a full stroke correction clinic with 10 swimmers.

Squeeze those butt cheeks! Our clinic swimmers work on their leg kick technique.

Beth, Josh and Juliet at work with their clinic swimmer.

Going too wide with the lead arm? Coach Juliet strikes a pose.

Coaches Molly, Marty and Luis share a joke with their swimmers.

Coach Nick talks the next lap.

Coach Alyce fine tuning her swimmer's stroke.

Swimmers adjusting their เกมยิงปลา HappyFishingTempo Trainer Pros - let's try Ian Thorpe's stroke rate for size!
Ngarama and Alyce study their ramp test results.

Coach Stephanie (right) works on the basics of sculling with Jennie. Stephanie is not only a brilliant swimmer (with 17 Paralympic medals!) but is rapidly developing into a great coach too - we hope to interview her on the SS Podcast very soon.

How do we power 25 coaches through an intensive afternoon's coaching?
With a whole suitcase full of muffins of course!

Huge thanks to our North American coaching team: Paul and Adam with (back L-R) SS Coaches Gretchan Jackson (Portland OR), Mike Jotautas (Louisville KY), Mary Jessey (Calgary), Stacee Seay (Chicago) and Chris Bagg (Portland OR).

Swim Smooth!

Try Adding A Little Greatness To Your Swimming

As someone relatively new to swimming you might think that you'll never be swimming in the fast lane of your pool. And the thought of having the speed and effectiveness of an Olympic swimmer is a complete impossibility. Those guys are just WAY too fast!

But don't be a dazzled by the brilliance of fast swimmers, there's plenty we can learn from them, not just in the pool but outside of it too.

Here’s some things that great swimmers do that you can easily replicate:

- Rather than just going through the motions, great swimmers perform key drills focusing on the key purpose of the exercise. Do you know why you perform certain drills and what to focus on in each? You should: เกมยิงปลา

- Great swimmers have an inner sense of belief and positivity about their abilities. Feeling good about yourself is actually a conscious decision you can make, so be proud of what you do and be positive about it:

- Great swimmers swim consistently, rarely missing sessions or taking long breaks from training. You might not be swimming as frequently as an elite swimmer but let's match their consistency and so avoid your swimming being like a game of snakes and ladders.

- Great swimmers perform a regular stretching routine to allow them to achieve a range of motion needed to swim with great stroke technique.

- They think about what they eat and how much alcohol they drink. By putting more of the right things into their body and less of the wrong things they get more out of it.

- They constantly work on and refine their pacing skills in training. The ability to start any swim without going out too fast and slowing down is paramount to performing at your best, regardless of your base swimming speed. Not only does it mean you swim to your ability level but well paced training sets improve the quality of your training so that you get more fitness gains. Use a Finis Tempo Trainer to achieve this.

- They think of their training in "blocks" rather than "sessions". It's of no benefit to perform a single all-out training session but taking a week to mentally and physically recover. The key to improvement is to repeat a regular training week over and over again with the right balance of training, technique and open water skills ("the three keys").

It's easy to get into a cycle of thinking you'll never be good at something and as a result behave in a way that re-enforces that position. The behaviours above don't require masses of swimming talent, in fact they require no talent at all to implement, just passion and discipline.

Try adding a little greatness into your swimming and you'll be well on the way to becoming the swimmer you've always wanted to be.

Swim Smooth!

We're At Nike World Headquarters With Our Brand New SS Coach Chris Bagg!

Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young are super-excited to be starting our 3 Day Coach Education Course at Nike World Headquarters in Portland Oregon today with 20 developing swim coaches from around the world in attendance!

And we're even more excited to announce our second coach in Portland, the brilliant Chris Bagg (more info on that below).

Over the 3 days the coaches on the course will be getting a deep-dive into everything Swim Smooth from best practise video analysis and stroke correction, to cutting edge squad training methods for distance swimmers (and triathletes) and perfecting critical open water skills.

It will be insightful, inspiring and fun in equal measure - watch our for posts from the course on our usual social media channels: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

If you would like to join us on a future course you can find more information here:

And make sure you're a member of our Coaches Network to be invited to apply: 

Announcing Chris Bagg - Certified Swim Smooth Coach

Swim Smooth are extremely proud to announce our certification of Chris Bagg based here at Nike World Headquarters:

Whenever people ask me what I do for a living, I say "I'm a P.E. teacher for adults." The answer often elicits a laugh (and usually further inquiry), but I think it's the right answer. When I was in high school, I loved gym class (strange, I know). Gym offered a respite from the stresses of my day, a chance to relax, compete, have fun, and maybe even improve my fitness. Was I cool? No—being the teacher's pet in P.E. will not endear you to your fellow teenagers. Did it help keep me sane? Certainly.

Read the rest of Chris' profile here:

And of course Chris was on episode 13 of our podcast just a few weeks ago:

Chris is a fantastic coach and an experienced pro triathlete in his own right, book in now for a session with him now:

Swim Smooth!

The BMI Chart Part 2 - A Warning If You Are In The Blue Zone

Last week on the blog we looked at this chart, which is like a BMI chart for your swimming:

It assesses your swimming at any effort level, whether you are swimming easy, sprinting, or anywhere in-between.

If you are in the red zone then you will be aware that you are "over-revving" and need to slow things down slightly and lengthen out your stroke. You can use a Tempo Trainer Pro to do that in mode 3. First set it to your current stroke rate, and then progressively lower it (2 to 3 SPM at a time) until things are feeling more controlled.

BUT if you are in the blue zone you need to be a little careful. Ultimately with yourself we are looking to raise your stroke rate slightly, getting a better sense of rhythm and timing into your stroke. However, you can't just speed your arms up - if you've tried that you know it gets very hard very quickly!

The reason for this relates to why your stroke rate is too low. If you are in the blue zone then it's very likely you are "overgliding" at the front of the stroke, dropping your wrist and elbow and showing the palm of the hand slightly forwards.

Here's how that looks:

If you've been focusing on developing a long stroke (or actively trying to glide) then showing the palm forwards naturally starts to develop in your stroke. That's because pushing forwards like this allows you to pause momentarily in this position; in fact it's very hard to pause at the front of your stroke without pushing forwards and leaning on the water!

We often refer to this effect as "putting on the brakes" and it quickly becomes a habit such that you are unaware you are doing it. If you try and lift your stroke rate from here you simply push forwards on the water harder and it resists you more, hugely increasing drag and effort.

Instead, we need to first develop your catch setup so that you extend forwards into this position with the elbow higher than the wrist and the wrist higher than the fingertips:

Now you are naturally engaging with the water and ready to press it backwards, removing that pause at the front. Do this and you will find your stroke rate will naturally lift, possibly without you even realising it.

Of course, if you want to lift it a little further still you are now ready to do so with a Finis Tempo Trainer. Lift your stroke rate and you will feel a sense of real acceleration, moving through the water with rhythm and power!

Correct Your Stroke With Swim Smooth

If you are in the red zone, with a Guru Pro subscription follow either the Arnie or Swinger processes and tune up these elements of your stroke. You'll move into the white zone and immediately notice the difference in your swimming:



To fix an overglide at the front of your stroke (Blue Zone) then follow the Bambino or Overglider Pro Guru processes and you'll soon be swimming much more effectively:



Swim Smooth!

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