Archives for the month of: January, 2020

We will be doing time trials this week and the second of our three regular time trials over the Winter.  To help you prepare please try and get into a good mindset.  The challenge starts now and can be split into several phases.  Phase 1 is making a commitment to give it a go.  Subsequent phases are up to you!

I know many of you get anxious and don’t like the pressure but I do hope you are able to give it a try. The article I posted last year about getting into a good time trial mindset is very relevant here based on one of Helen’s articles about “Challenge and Threat.”  You can read it again here.

See you Saturday!


We’ve done a lot of work on the fundamentals over the last few months, mainly focused our underwater stroke but also combining it with posture and breath timing.  This week is the last week before the second set of time trials so we’re going to focus on putting it all together and start thinking about increasing stroke rate with some golf stroke.  Golf stroke (adding the total of your strokes and time for a 50) is great for measuring the balance between stroke rate, distance per stroke and efficiency and I’d like you to try reducing your golf stroke by:

  • Keeping your stroke count the same for each 50
  • Keeping your leg kick the same frequency and power
  • Increasing your speed purely from increasing your stroke rate

I think a good way to increase your stroke rate without slipping water is to keep your catch patient and strong at the same rate but just applying a bit more pressure on the water towards the end of each stroke.  Your stroke rate will naturally increase when you do this as you will be going faster through the water and moving your arms faster in the recovery due to this extra speed at the back-end.

After golf stroke we are going to do a set of 75s and 125s with some drills in the middle to remind you about keeping good technique throughout the set.  Use the main set to play around with adjusting your speed a little when the turnaround changes just with the stroke rate in your arms that you will have been practising with golf stroke.

See you Saturday!


Great work last week working on posture and keeping your shoulder forward and near your chin.  I saw some really nice swimming last week doing this, especially on the three-quarter catch-up drill.  We are going to do more practise on the same thing this week with three-quarter catch-up as well as shark-fin drill.  I am going to ask you to do the shark-fin drill every 3 strokes so you can keep your speed going.  Watch the following video for a good example of this:

One effect you should see from these drills, and improved posture, is a greater distance per stroke.  Please count your strokes every once in a while during the session to see whether or not it is having an effect.

Next week I will be away so will be leaving the sessions and want to move onto thinking about breathing.  We’ve worked on quick breathing drills before and I’m going to ask you to use the cues from the following Effortless Swimming video to try and think about breath timing.

To hit the cues talked about in the video – starting to turn your head on hand entry and finishing it before the catch – you will need to breathe quickly.  If you do though, it will really benefit your stroke and combined with a good posture is a great way keep you swimming efficiently, powerfully and fast.

See you Saturday!


We are going to keep the technique work going throughout January, as we did last year, before we start the build towards more race pace swimming from February onwards.  And for January the focus is going to continue to be on the underwater part of the pull by focusing on connecting your catch, with good EVF, to the powerful push part of the underwater pull.

This week I would like you to focus on your posture and shoulder position.  This should help you get more power in each stroke.  To focus on posture this week I would like you to think about keeping your shoulders forward and close to your face during the pull.  You can see the difference between a weaker and stronger shoulder position in the photos below.


These photos are from Sheila Taormina’s excellent Swim Speed Secrets book and show Jack maintaining a strong, high and forward shoulder position, which helps engage his strongest muscles for a powerful pull.  The drills we will be doing this week will help you focus on this and will consist of a number of different catch-up drills:

  • catch-up with a pause at EVF, where you pause before applying any force in the push part of the underwater stroke
  • regular catch-up, which you all should know and love, and
  • three-quarter catch-up, where you start one arm moving just before the other arm catches it up

Please use these drills and also work on your shoulder position during both the drill and main set and see if you can feel the difference in power connecting your catch to the powerful back-end of your underwater pull.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward using a strong core rotation all controlled with shoulders near your chin.

See you Saturday and remember the new start and and finish times of 7am-8:05am and 8:05am-9:10am!


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