Archives for posts with tag: technique

It’s time for the Christmas Swim again.  Where has this year gone!?  As in previous years we will be doing two equal sessions to ensure everyone can do the same set.  So the 7am session will finish at 8:05am and the next session will start at 8:05am and finish at 9:10am.

The Christmas Swim this year is built on that wonderful trio of technique, challenge and fun.  We will be doing a long block of 100s, off a fairly short turnaround time, to make it a challenge.  The technique comes from what I want you all to focus on during the first and second 100 of each block of 3.  All the 100s are full stroke front crawl but I would like you to think about having an excellent EVF on the first 100 in each block and a good core-driven rotation and push in the second 100 of each block.

The fun part comes from every third 100 where you will get a draw a lucky dip variation from a swimming hat in your lane and do what it says.  It may also vary your recovery time so adding to the challenge element of the session as well!  Please let your fellow swimmers know what the lucky dip element is of each 100 by passing it down the line through the lane as the short turnarounds mean there won’t be time to have a chat or add any extra rest if you want to finish the session.  Please also make sure you start promptly.

See you Saturday!



Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

We will be doing time trials again tomorrow in the usual format with a good warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  What do you want to learn from it?

  • Do you want to learn if you can swim faster over 400m at the higher stroke rate we’ve been practicing recently?
  • Do you want to learn if you can to swim your 3rd 100m split so that it is not the slowest?
  • Do you want to learn if you can “negative split” the time trial and swim the second half faster than the first?
  • Do you want to learn if you can control your usual pre-time-trial nerves with a new mental approach?
  • Do you want to learn how your training is translating into 400m race pace times at this stage of the season?
  • Do you want to learn how to keep your good high-elbow technique when you get tired?
  • Do you want to learn how swimming a more relaxed time trial just focusing on effective stroke rate and technique affects your 400m speed?
  • Do you want to learn whether or not you can remember to keep a good kicking rhythm all the way through the 400m?
  • Or do you want to learn something completely different?

Whatever you want to learn I suggest coming along tomorrow with one primary learning goal and at most one or two secondary learning goals.  Then let me know how you got on because my goal is to get your feedback on what you learned from the time trial!

See you tomorrow,


As the triathlon season is now finished for most of us we’ll be backing off from the higher intensity sets we’ve been doing for the last few months and replacing it with some steadier paced aerobic swimming, technique work, some different strokes and some time trials (in November).  I would really encourage everyone to take advantage of this unique stage in the season to think about their technique and making any necessary changes at this stage of the year.  The biggest challenge with older swimmers when making changes is often that it can be really hard to change bad habits that are ingrained.  So my advice is:

  1. Decide what you want to change.  You can ask me or any of our coaches for advice and decide what is right for you.  Or you can get lessons from other organisations or clubs such as City of Cambridge Masters or Ed’s Elite Swimming Academy.
  2. Practice, practice and practice whenever you can, in every possible session, to make the change you want. A change in bad habit will only come for most of us with lots of practice.  It takes discipline and perseverance to do this but I think everyone can do this if they really want to.
  3. Get regular feedback to see if your change is effective.  You can do this by asking the coaches to watch you, or your fellow swimmers, and really make sure you are making the right changes you want to.  You can also get feedback from more measurable indicators such as your times for certain distances or strokes per length.  But beware that you will often go backwards on speed while you are making a change to your stroke before you start improving as we tend to tense up when trying to bed in a change in our stroke so visual feedback from others is often invaluable to help you push through this.

I am planning to break the technique work for Saturday sessions into different things each month.  During October we will be focusing on body position and this week working body rotation.  To do this we will be doing some sideline kicking and the following video shows some examples of what we will be doing in the technique set this week:

The most important thing I would like you all to think about when doing these drills is keeping your elbow higher than your hand.  The easy, and wrong, thing to do when on your side is to let your elbow drop.  It is hard to keep your elbow higher than your hand when swimming on your side as you are over-exaggerating your normal body rotation.  That is why it is really good to practise this when you do this drill and will help you keep that high-elbow catch in your normal swimming, especially at the point when most people lose it during their rotation when they breath.  So please do focus on keeping that lead arm with the elbow above the hand and your palm facing down towards the bottom of the pool in the right position ready to catch and start the underwater stroke.  Watch the super slow-mo clip of Keri-Anne Payne swimming open water and notice how she manages to keep that lovely high-elbow underwater even when siting and breathing to the side:

See you Saturday,


Well done to everyone who did the time trials last week, especially those who had to wait over 30 minutes on the pool side for a replacement lifeguard during the 7am session.  Clearly this was not the best preparation for a time trial, and I think it reflected the difference in results between the first and second sessions, but overall there was still an overall improvement in average times since November.  In fact, having looked back at all the results over the last few years there are a number of performances that stand out from Saturday:

  • Alex Bevis beat the previous best 400m time trial result on Saturday by 1s to set a new record of 4:47.
  • Paul Thorby made an impressive 45s improvement in his 400m time since Nov 2012.
  • Anna Blackwell posted a 12s improvement since March 2014.
  • Sarah Parkin swam 27s faster this time than in May last year.

If you haven’t improved as much as you would like then it is worth trying to understand why and what you’d like to do to change it for next time.  We haven’t done much race-pace work over the Winter so any recent improvements I would expect to come from any changes you’ve been making to your technique over the Winter.  Changes in technique do take time to bed in, and reflect in improved speed, so don’t be too disheartened if you’re not seeing much effect yet.  However, do talk to me or any of the other coaches about any changes you are trying to make if you don’t think the changes you are trying are the right thing and will make a positive difference.

We’ll be doing some more faster-paced swimming on Saturdays over the last few weeks.  This week sees the return of Will Clarke’s favourite set of fast and steady 50s.

See you Saturday,


I will be away on holiday for the next few weeks so won’t be there to swim or coach any of the sessions until 6th September.  However, Chrissie and Simon have offered to coach some of the Saturday sessions when they can.  They are unlikely to be there every session, due to holidays and Junior coaching commitments, but will most likely be there for some of them.

I have left the sessions for the next few weeks in the box with our registration sheets so if you are first at a session please can you get the session out for the right week and put them against the appropriate lanes.  I have also added the sessions on the website here so if you are away on holiday and want to do some of them, as some of you have already asked, then please feel free to use them!

The theme for the next few weeks is maintaining both speed and speed endurance as we head towards the end of the race season.  If there are two things I would like you to think about when you do these sessions it is varying your pace and maintaining technique when you are tired and swim at speed.  If you want some reminders from my previous posts about this you can look at this one.

Have a good August and race well for those of you that have more races in August.  Remember – you will often race a faster triathlon by backing off a few percent in effort on the swim, getting the basics of navigation right and focusing on a strong, relaxed and efficient technique rather than really trying to push the swim.

See you in September!




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