Apologies to those to of you who didn’t get my email announcing the change of time for the session last week.  I know some of you were not checking your emails between Christmas and New Year but others did not get the email at all.  Iain is continuing to look into the problems with emails that are not getting through, and I will try link my blog posts to Facebook so there is a another method of notification, but you can also check for all club emails that have been sent from the club website.  If you log into the the members area and go the the “Welcome to your club/communications” page then you can see all the emails sent to the allmembers email link.  Also, if you want to follow just my blog posts you can click the “Follow Rob’s Swimming Blog” link on my blog page or follow me on Twitter (@sivadbor) to get tweets when there are new posts.


After our backstroke and breast stroke technique work over the last two weeks I am sure you will have guessed that this week it is Butterfly!  Although widely considered as the hardest stroke to master it is probably the most beautiful to both watch and enjoy swimming when you learn the technique.  And – guest what – it also requires an Early Vertical Forearm!

Chloe Sutton has an excellent video with some really good tips which you can watch here:

We will be doing some of the drills she demonstrates, especially the Caterpillar and single-arm drills.

For me, the key to a good Butterly is to relax and really get that nice undulating dolphin motion going.  Don’t fight the water, try and get the rhythm using your head and legs, as Chloe explains,  and enjoy the smooth, undulating motion.

See you Saturday!


Well done for all of your efforts last week with backstroke.  I saw some excellent efforts and good-looking backstroke, especially when some of you took your time a bit more on the drills.  This week we will be doing some breast stroke and I have another excellent Chloe Sutton video for you to watch here:

“But breast stroke is so unlike front crawl – how on earth can it make me a better triathlete!?  You are just having a laugh!”,  I hear you all cry (especially Juliet…!)  My three answers to that question this week are:

  1. A good breast stroke pull has the same key feature as a front crawl pull – a high-elbow and vertical forearm (watch 4:30 into the video for a great demonstration).
  2. Doing different strokes give you a different way of developing your feel for the water – and makes you a better all-round swimmer – and better all-round swimmers usually swim faster at front crawl due to their improved feel for the water.
  3. It’s fun to try and learn new things!

When we do the drills this week we will be following a similar pattern to the drill progression Chloe talks about in her video – kick then pull then timing.  So please do enjoy doing the breast stroke this week alongside our more familiar aerobic-paced front crawl sets.  And remember – bring your feet to your booty on the kick!

See you Saturday,


Well done to everyone who did the time trials last week and all of your fantastic efforts.  In December we are going to do a bit of variety and do a few different strokes.  The great thing about all of the other strokes is that when swum well they all have the same principle of a high elbow pull  – just like the early-vertical-forearm we have been practising on front crawl.

This week it we will be doing backstroke and a great example of it being swum well, with a high-elbow pull, is shown by Chloe Sutton below:

We will be doing some of the single-arm backstroke as a drill this week.

See you Saturday!


This week we will be doing the first set of time trials of the Winter season to give you a chance to set a baseline to measure your Winter swimming progress.  It will follow a similar format for previous years with a long warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  Those not swimming will be counting strokes and taking your split times so you will get numbers informing you how how well you pace the swim together with measures of your distance per stroke, strokes per minute and an estimate of your critical swim speed (the pace you can sustain for very long swims).

Many of you have been doing some excellent work on your stroke over the last couple of months – especially getting an Early Vertical Forearm – so this is a great opportunity to practise maintaining this good technique under the pressure of a race-like situation.  To do this, why not take some inspiration from David McNamee, who came 3rd at the Kona Ironman World Championships this year, who recently tweeted ‘Race the first two thirds of the race with your head and the last third with your heart’ – un…

I think it’s a good way to think about pacing your 400m time trial as well, as it is for an Ironman, the only think I would say to adapt it is to say “Race the first 300m with your head and the last 100m with your heart”.

See you Saturday!


Great work again last week on the Early Vertical Forearm.  It was terrific to see the improvements many of you are making with this and to hear that many of you are feeling the difference, too.  We have one more week of doing drills to practise this before we do our first time trials of the Winter next week.  We will be doing similar drills to previous weeks but this time swum as 50s rather than 25s before we get into the main set.  In the main set we will also be doing some EVF drills to remind you to keep that beautiful EVF throughout the set.

For those of you that have taken advantage of the underwater video recording over the past couple of weeks you will have a pretty good idea of how much of an EVF you are currently achieving.  You can see a fantastic example of EVF in the short clip of Rebecca Adlington below:

Now we are all unlikely to reach the level of EVF that Rebecca did but even small improvements are likely to make a positive difference so please do try your best at this.  And we will have the video camera again this week so if you do want to try and see what you look like underwater please ask Chrissie or myself.

See you Saturday,


Geat work last week on the drills.  It was fantastic to see a really good high-elbow pull, with great Early Vertical Forearm (EVF), especially when you added the pause in the stroke at the EVF position.  Now you have the hang of these drills we are going to do some more work on them this week to practise a bit more.  The most important thing to remember is taking enough time to check that you are in that EVF position, with your forearm and hand pointing vertically downwards, before starting the powerful underwater push to the end of the stroke.

After the drills we will be doing a main set of aerobic 75s and 125s with some drills in the middle to remind you about keeping that excellent EVF position you have been practising.  But please don’t wait for the drill section, though, to think about keeping that strong EVF position – keep it up all the way through the main set and also into the pull subset!

See you Saturday,


Thank you for all working hard for Chrissie while I was away last week.  She has given you all a glowing report!  Chrissie has kindly offered to help with some more coaching in the coming weeks, when not coaching the juniors, so I will bring the video camera along for the next few weeks for anyone that wants to see what their stroke looks like above and below the water.  We will use the end part of both sessions for the videoing so please speak to Chrissie or myself if you would like to see yourself and get some analysis.  There won’t be time to do more than a few of you each week but I will do my best to get all of those filmed over the next few weeks that want to be.

We will be starting time trials again at the end of November and running them every two months on the last Saturday of November, January and March to allow you to track your progress over the Winter.  The November time trial is a great way to set a baseline for measuring any changes in technique and fitness that you make over the Winter.  I know many of you don’t like time trials but why not set yourself the challenge of trying to learn to enjoy them a bit more by practising getting better at them this Winter?!

In the session this week I’d like everyone to think about the start of the pull with a high-elbow catch so we will be doing some different drills to help you work on this.  The drills will go as follows:

  • Double-arm pull
    • Use a pull buoy and look straight down at the bottom of the pool
    • Do a double-arm breaststroke pull finishing with your arms by your hips, recovering underwater
    • Focus on getting your forearms vertical (in the Early Vertical Forearm (EVF) position), with your elbows still pointing forwards, before you put any power into the pull
  • Sideline kicking with quarter pull
    • Same as sideline kick but doing the first quarter of the pull with your lead arm
    • Recover the pulling arm underwater, as you would for puppy paddle or doggy paddle drill
    • Swim it slowly without pressing hard – you are not generating propulsion just practising keeping your elbow above your hand and getting ready to catch
  • Reverse doggy paddle
    • Like normal doggy paddle but starting and finishing each stroke with both arms at your sides (like reverse catch-up)
    • Let your shoulders rotate as you would on normal front crawl and breathe to the side
    • Focus on keeping your elbow nice and high at the start and throughout the pull
  • Full stroke
    • Keep the high-elbow catch you have just been practising
    • Do the catch slowly – don’t start pressing hard until your forearm is pointing to the bottom of the pool so you only push the water backwards

 There’s a video also here of me explaining these new drills if you need it.

See you Saturday!

I will be away this week and Chrissie has very kindly offered to coach the second session while I am away.  We will be following a similar structure to the last couple of weeks with a pull set followed by a technique set and finishing with a mainly aerobic-based main set.

The technique set is moving beyond the sideline kick from the last two weeks into both Unco and Reverse Catch-up.  This means there is more to think about with both arms and legs moving at the same time.  The focus is the same, though, and I’d like you to think about high-elbow catch and pushing straight backwards (no cross-over under your body) as you use your strong core-driven rotation to finish each stroke.

The main set includes a little bit of kick and faster-paced swimming alongside the majority of steady-paced work.  Use the kick to focus on a strong core-driven kick from your buttocks.  For the faster-paced sections focus on getting a maximum speed for minimum effort (which you will get by keeping your high-elbow catch and strong core-driven rotation).

Have a good session and see you next week!


This week with will be continuing with the same theme of high-elbow and rotation from your core.  We will be doing similar drills – sideline kicking and Unco – as well as a mix of pull and swim sets.  So please focus your efforts in all of the sets on a good technique, as follows:

  • In the pull set take advantage of the slower arm speed and higher resistance of swimming with paddles to focus on levering yourself past a fixed point in the water using your core.
  • In technique subset focus on the basics of high-elbow catch and rotation.
  • In the main set focus on maintaining the benefits of your good technique on every repetition throughout the set as you being to tire.

We will also be doing a bit more kick in this session and all the sessions building up to Christmas.  Kick is good for working on your core fitness so focus on really kicking with straight legs from your glutes and core.

See you tomorrow!


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