Podcast, Swimming

Swim Types and Fault Fixers with Swim Smooth’s Paul Newsome | EP#188

 July 1, 2019

By  Mikael Eriksson

​​Swim Types and Fault Fixers with Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome | EP#188

TTS188 - Swim Types and Fault Fixers with Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome

Paul Newsome coaches thousands of triathletes and open water swimmers every year through his company Swim Smooth with its local squad in Perth, through international courses and clinics, through the global Swim Smooth coaching network and indirectly through the Swim Smooth blog and podcast. In this episode we discuss the Swim Types system and how to correct and improve the stroke of each Swim Type.

Discuss this episode!

  • Let's discuss this episode and the topic in general. Post any comments or questions in the comments at the bottom of the shownotes. Join the discussion here!

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Taming the Arnie.
  • Boosting the Bambino.
  • Inspiring the Kicktastic.
  • Curing the Overglider.
  • Supporting the Swinger.
  • Motivating the Smooth.

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The concept of swim types

5:35 -

  • We released the swim type system in June 2010 and the concept came from doing a lot of video analysis. 
  • I like to recognise patterns, and having the background in sports exercise science I wanted to make sense of what I was seeing on a day-to-day basis. 
  • It became apparent to me that I was recognising certain flaws in athletes swim stroke that seemed common across a group. 
  • The first one I discovered is what we call the Arnie, or the Arnette. 

    This is usually an adult start swimmer, new to swimming and finding it very frustrating. 

    They are usually fighting the water and feel like their legs are dragging down. 
  • What worked well to improve the Arnie didn't seem to work well for other swimmers who were sitting higher in the water - e.g. a smooth, a swinger or a kicktastic.

    They generally have good body position, and almost need contrary advice to what helps the Arnie. 
  • The whole purpose and motivation to bring this out was trying to practice and preach the individuality in coaching swimmers. 
  • There isn't such a thing as the swim smooth stroke because it looks different for different people. 

    We're trying to coach the individual rather than coaching one specific stroke. 

    But systemising individuality isn't that easy!
  • I started to see trends, then cross referenced that with drills - what was and wasn't working - and from there I started to formulate it into a system. 
  • I first broached it with Adam Young when he joined me in Perth in 2008, ad we did a dry run in the UK in September of that year. 

    We had a one day clinic and we put it out to people on that course - it didn't really excite anyone that much then! 
  • From that we went away and worked on it for 18-24 months and came up with a very structured process. 
  • Initially the process was based around the physicality of how someone swims. 

    E.g. the Arnie tends to sit low in the water, and feel like they're fighting the water. 

    The Bambino tends to feel anxious in the water and you can see this in their breathing - the coordination of it looks like they're trying to climb out the water. 

    The Kicktastic generally sits very horizontal in the water and they may say the opposite or an Arnie, who likely loves their wetsuit - Kicktastic's would feel awkward in a wetsuit, and would be slowed down by a pull buoy.

    The Overglider is someone who has overdone the need to make your stroke as long as possible, and they tend to have a rut in the nervous system leading to a stoachastic type of stroke.

    The Smooth is a very good looking freestyle stroke. 
  • We've also tried to get people to recognise a sixth type: the Swinger.

    This is somebody who maybe doesn't look great in the pool. but swims exceptionally well in open water,

    I was particularly interested in this because it's my style - I seem to have a natural affinity for open water distance rather than pool sprints. 
  • We released the six types on our first three day coaching education course. 
  • One of our goals was to help people self-diagnose where they're at and then be able to self-coach. 

    For example, if you live 500 miles away from your local coach or you're too nervous to join a squad, how can you recognise simply what might be holding you back and try to fix it. 
  • We've now go over 10,000 video files on this, and if you go through you can positively correlate the swim type with the amount of time you spend talking to that swim type. 

    Using the Overglider as an example, they are generally someone very technically minded (e.g. engineering background, accountant) and can be guilty of overanalysing.

    When I'm giving a 1:1 analysis session this particular person responds with loads of questions - which is good because you can discuss the logic of what they're doing etc. 

    Consequently these analysis sessions go on for ages - the average time of doing a video analysis with an Overglider is around 40-45 minutes. 
  • If you contrast that with the Arnie, they're typically a very pragmatic, kinaesthetic learner and want to get in the water and start working on it right away. 

    We often talk about having an Arnie 'yep-ometer' - this sense that they want to rush and get into the water because they're just saying 'yep, yep, yep'.

    Typical analysis time with an Arnie would be 15-20 minutes.
  • There are some scenarios where people don't fit into one of the six types, and people argue it is pigeon holing them. 

    We do believe in the concept of individuality but that's a hard concept to try and systemise. 

    We haven't systemised this for the sake of it, we've looked at the patterns and what works well and doesn't. 
  • We recognise sub-types too. For example if you're the classic Arnie you've discovered triathlon with maybe a rugby background that requires strength and explosive speed. 

    Chances are you'd pick up biking and running well, but swimming can be really frustrating for the Arnie. 

    They often pick up on the idea that they need more efficiency to smooth it out, but sometimes this can lead to becoming an Arnie-Overglider. 

    They're less technically minded than the classic Overglider but they've got a power and frustration in their stroke, coupled with a stroke that's too long and slow. 
  • On the flip side, the Bambino is often quite nervous and anxious, and the big thing holding them back is coordination - they will often recognise this in the pool and breathing will feel like a challenge. 

    The Bambino looks like there is no catch up in their stroke. When they go to take a breath in the lead arm will collapse, narrowing down the opportunity to breath in. 

    Consequently, breathing feels even worse and more challenging. 

    If the timing issue isn't rectified, they'll often develop a stronger leg kick as they get fitter and more comfortable, leading to them becoming a bit Kicktastic over time. 
  • This isn't a black and white type of system, the point is to try and help people with their specific faults. 

    We wanted to help coaches around the world understand the patterns in swimmers, and the process that should work for that swimmer because of this pattern. 

    Equally to understand that those same drills won't work for another swimmer who looks totally different in the water. 
  • Being able to receive an email from one of my coaches in America saying they have a classic Overglider, means I don't need to know anything else! 

    It's an internal language that allows us to understand, and more quickly help the swimmer and the coach. 
  • It was a daunting prospect putting something brand new out there to the swimming community. 

    The only prior swimming system had been that there was one ideal model that we should all be aiming for.
  • There's a quote from S.Scott from the bio-mechnical model of the human facia system: "the most important aspect of a formal scientific model is not that it is right or wrong, they are all wrong, rather a key value of a model of concept is it's ability to generate ideas for experimentation"

    This is coaching in a nutshell - thinking outside the box to help people to the best of your ability. 

The Arnie 

25:50 -

  • The Arnie is the classic swimmer who fights the water and is often frustrated by swimming. 
  • They're typically inflexible with poor range of movement. 
  • They also often need to learn pace judgement - it's usually a powerful athlete who can go off too quickly and needs to tame that down. 
  • Physically the legs tend to lie very low in the water, and this results in a lot of drag. 
  • They tend to be highly competitive goal setting personalities.
  • They are often lean of build - our characature looks like Arnie Schwarzenegger. 
  • They're often very talented at land based sports but find swimming surprisingly hard, but have a good natural sprinting ability.
  • When working with an Arnie, I'll often use examples of other high class athletes who were Arnie's to help drive their improvements. 

Taming the Arnie

27:27 -

  • There's really only two things you need to consider: reducing drag and increasing effective propulsion. 
  • The Arnie often look like they're putting in a lot of propulsion, but it's the drag factor. 
  • Anything you can do to correct low sinking legs and improve efficiency from that is really helpful. 
  • Conventional swim correction methodology, which is normally about reducing drag, will often work quite well with the Arnie - but you don't want to overdo it and become the Overglider. 
  • The legs are often low because they tend to hold onto their breath which lifts the chest too high. 
  • They'll also tend to have crossovers with the lead arm crossing over the head, and then legs scissor kicking which creates drag.
  • They'll tend to pull through with quite a straight arm pull through, trying to use their shoulders to pull them through the water but that lifts the chest higher again and sinks the legs. 
  • Arnie's often have very high head positions, they'll often be looking forwards as opposed to down towards the bottom. 

    They'll often lift the head high to take a breath. 
  • They are also lacking that flexibility, so they benefit from land based stretching and mobility work. 
  • We try and get them to exhale better underwater and stopping the lead arm crossing over when they take a breath it. 
  • A javelin drill can help: you get the swimmer to kick on their side with a pair of fins on, and then need to have a Finis freestyle paddle which sits on the lead arm, attached by the middle finger. 

    On the underside of this panel is a keel and unless the arm enters the water and goes straight forwards, the paddle will tend to form off the hand - i.e. if the swimmer is crossing over. 
  • It's so easy to confused swimmers with so man different things to think about, but when you start to recognise the cause and effect to these traits it can be easier. 

    E.g. Knowing your lead arm crossing over leads to scissor kicking - usually the Arnie doesn't have a problem with kicking, it's their arms causing it. 
  • Once you recognise these traits and patterns it becomes an easier practice, you just need to know where to start. 
  • A lot of my coaching is bourn out of curiosity, which brought me around to the idea that you can change the status quo. 
  • One of my bug bears is on the breathing - lots of people are taught not to worry about their breathing and that it'll come later on. 

    If your breathing isn't in place, all this other stuff just doesn't make sense to work on until you're relaxed with the breathing. 
  • Sometimes people are told to hold onto their breath in the water to improve buoyancy - which is does - but you're trying to lie horizontal in the water, and it'll just make your front buoyant. 
  • We do a drill called the sink down drill. 

    It involves the swimmer going to the deep end of the pool and trying to sink to the bottom. 

    There's a couple of ways people can do this: exhaling in a smooth fashion, or you can just blurt out the breath. 

    You want to smooth one, so the swimmer feels relaxed and doesn't hold onto tension and anxiety. 
  • For coaches, when you're working with athletes like the Arnie who are probably very type A, very driven, wanting to get on with it, you need to develop a rapport with that athlete. 

    If they don't feel your advice is working for them immediately they're likely to tune out straight away. You need buy in quickly.

The Bambino

34:56 -

  • Usually adult onset swimmers would be Arnie's or Bambino's, so think of the Bambino as quite new to swimming. 
  • Calling it the Bambino isn't meant to be derogatory, it's meant to have some tongue and cheek about it. 
  • For the Bambino, breathing is very challenging, they look like they're afraid to hurt the water. 
  • The stroke looks like it's lacking a bit of oomph, and they have poor feel for the water. 
  • They may struggle to coordination the freestyle stroke, and find breathing very hard - they often need to stop at the end of every length to catch their breath. 
  • They've got a low power stroke. 
  • The Bambino often responds very well to plenty of encouragement about them getting into their swimming. 
  • If you try and compare the Bambino too much to someone who is overly above where they perceive themselves to be, that'll be a big shut down. 

    If you can relate to someone more on their level, they will benefit more. 
  • One of our most popular YouTube posts is with mega Megan - she's gone from a CSS of 2:13/100m down to 1:32/100m. 
  • The only thing that really looked like it was lacking in her stroke was that it lacked oomph - and she's changed this now and she's doing fantastic. 

Boosting the Bambino

38:21 - 

  • As a coach and as a swimmer you need to be careful here. 
  • The biggest symptom the Bambino experiences is anxiety in the water - the feeling of climbing out of the water to take a breath in. 

    The lead cause of this is the lead arm collapsing. 
  • Coordinating the stroke is going to be important to develop. 
  • We have a drill called 6-1-6 which has the swimmer kicking on the side for 6 leg kicks, then one stroke, swap over and breathe on the other side, and start the process again. 

    6 kicks, 1 stroke, 6 kicks. 
  • Somebody who is new and feeling anxious may find the coordination of doing this exercise quite challenging. 
  • We often implement a basic tool in the lead arm - we get them to kick on the side while holding onto an empty tube of Berocca or a marker pen. 

    This gives them a physical cue that this lead arm needs to stay out in front of the head until the other arm swaps the object over. 
  • This adds in catch up from the Overglider, but you're trying to get some sensation of support with the lead arm. 

    It helps break down the timing, and once they're more confident you take the object away and do it with less catch up in the stroke. 
  • The best tool I've found for working with a Bambino is the Finis tempo trainer. 
  • We had a lot of criticism when we started using tempo trainers and people said they were only for pros.

    We've found the opposite of that to be true! 
  • If you look at a good swimmer, what characterises their stroke is how much rhythm they have. 

    When you look at someone lacking confidence in the water, like the Bambino, they look like they're lacking rhythm. 
  • We see that a Bambinos stroke seems to accelerate when they breath because their hand is slipping. 

    With that arm slipping you reduce the opportunity to breath in, and consequently the rhythm falls to pieces. 
  • If you change the focus away from the breathing and get the person to count 1-2-stretch, it'll feel like they're stretching on that stroke but they'll actually just be making it even and rhythmical. 
  • Tempo trainers aren't that intelligent, if you dial in 60 stroke a minute it'll beep every second regardless of what you do. 

    For the Bambino it stops the overthinking process, they just have to stay in time with the beat. 
  • I love working with Bambinos because the sense of achievement you can help them reach unlocks confidence issues with swimming. 

The Kicktastic 

44:47 - 

  • The Kicktastic has a very distinctive sound to their stroke. 
  • The tend to sit very horizontally in the water, and don't have huge amounts of drag. 

    Some may even sit so high that their kick is completely out the water. 
  • You want to have the body position horizontal and you want the hells kissing the surface, but if the whole foot is coming out you're generally creating too much drag and cavitation than you're providing propulsion. 
  • Often Kicktastic's won't realise they kick too hard, and we often have to show them their video alongside something like Rebecca Adlington's world record to see that she has hardly any kick. 
  • Studies have shown that for distances of 200-400m above, swimmers will only generate 11/12% of their entire propulsion from the leg kick. 
  • People who try to kick too hard can be wasting a lot of energy. 
  • You need to make sure you've got a smart leg kick. 

Inspiring the Kicktastic

47:45 - 

  • The legs are usually okay, they're just kicking too high. 
  • I've worked with a guy who knocked 9 minutes off his 1500m freestyle largely by getting his eyes down to the bottom of the pool - but he was an Arnie and he needed his legs higher. 

    With a kicktastic, if they take on that same advice it can be disastrous and your feet will be kicking thin air. 
  • You'll know if you're a kicktastic usually if you're swimming slower with a pull buoy. 

    You might have assumed it's because you're not as strong, but it's about how those tools affect your stroke. 
  • Kicktastic's tend to pull through with quite a straight arm, similar to the Arnie, but it's a lot more of a push down than pressing back. 
  • Swimming with a wetsuit can be frustrating for them too because it won't necessarily make them faster in the way it does for the Arnie. 
  • Huub came to us when they were designing wetsuits to help them build ones for different swimmers. 

    I said I wanted to put out a low buoyancy wetsuit for the kicktastic, and we came up with 'a wetsuit for people who don't like wetsuits'. 
  • A kicktastic tends to be 'rear wheel driven' - driving themselves with their legs, they need to become more front wheel drive. 

    This doesn't mean they kill the leg kick, but they need more confidence developing the catch at the front. 
  • They ideally need to become an all wheel drive, where the leg kick is assisting (not hindering), and they can pull through better. 
  • One of the easiest ways to get them to improve is do the opposite of what you do with the Arnie:

    Ask them to look further forwards in the water, and even further still in a wetsuit, even possibly cutting off the lower limbs of the wetsuit to reduce buoyancy. 
  • If your proprioceptive feedback and peripheral vision extends forwards you can see what you're doing with the arm.

    If you can see the elbows bending and see yourself pressing water back behind you it'll be easier to improve your stroke. 
  • We've got an athlete here in Perth, Kate Bevilaqua who has won 3 Ironman titles around the world, who we've been coaching since around 2009/10. 

    Kate went from swimming 63 minutes for an Ironman swim to 49 minutes.

    She was a classic Kicktastic when she came, and she'd been told to look right at the bottom of the pool which wasn't helping her. 

    We developed her stroke to turn her into a Swinger style, and she now has a very high stroke rate, and this has contributed to the significant improvement in her time. 

The Overglider

55:19 - 

  • My favourite style to work with is the Overglider. I'm curious by nature and want to analyse things, but it's that nature that has led to Overgliders usually. 
  • The belief prior to swim types was if you can make your stroke longer, and take fewer strokes per lap, you'll be more efficient, but sometimes it can hurt the rhythm of the stroke. 
  • It's not always more efficient! Back in 1978 James Counsilman put out The Science of Swimming and talked about the difference between a catch up style of stroke (Overglider) and a more continuous freestyle stroke. 

    A continuous freestyle stroke generates more consistency delivering force to the water. 
  • Water is 800 times more dense than air, so the last thing you want to be doing when you're swimming is pausing and gliding. 

    We refer to glide as a dirty word here at swim smooth - it just makes you decelerate and lose your momentum. 

    In a pool it's 
  • Ian Thorpe is sometimes seen as an Overglider, but he absolutely wasn't, he said when does technique sessions he can swim down a 50m pool in 24 strokes. 

    He can get it down as low as 20 but he says the danger is then he's gliding, rather than swimming efficiently. 

    When he was racing he was taking more like 31-32 strokes in 50m.  
  • We see lots of people trying to go down the pool in less than 30-35 strokes, but they're not going to get quicker if they keep pursuing that. 
  • Ian Thorpe might have looked very glidey, but he was turning his arms over at 76 strokes per minutes! 

    It looks slow because it's long, but it's actually long and fast. 
  • A good way to view the Overglider from is a birds eye view, you can usually see one arm about to catch up the other arm.

    The idea of upper quadrant freestyle, where one arm should want for the other to pass, has been taken too literally in the Overglider. 
  • They usually look the complete opposite of the Bambino. 
  • Overglider's are typically very analytical and want to process the information, and they may have learnt they need to swim with a two beat leg kick, the notion being it takes less energy. 

    However if you couple a really long stroke, e.g. 32 strokes per lap/40 strokes per minutes, with a two beat leg kick, it becomes the Overglider kick start. 

    The stroke stalls at the front, and usually the swimmer will bend the knee and whip kick themselves from the back of the stroke. 

    By doing that, the knee drops below the level of the chest and hips and creates more drag. 

Curing the Overglider. 

1:01:42 - 

  • We can reduce the pause time out in front of the head, and usually they don't like that as it feels the opposite of what they've learnt. 
  • We can try and raise the stroke rate a couple it with a two beat kick. 
  • However, if they want to keep a longer smoother stroke, they have to couple it with a four or six beat kick to provide continuous propulsion. 
  • My preference is a bit of both, but ideally trying to make sure they're not stalling from the front. 
  • One drill that helps is asking the swimmers to put a pull buoy between their legs, lay prone in the water face down, and hands in front of the head gently skulling in and out. 

    I talk about it like mixing hot and cold water together. You want fingertips a bit deeper than the wrist, and wrist deeper than the elbow.

    A good catch looks like you're reaching over a barrel, and this is what we're trying to do. 
  • As somebody glides their way down the pool, they invariably reach forwards and their fingertips reach up, presenting a stopping position where the palm blocks and creates a break. 
  • The best way to show this to an Overglider is to get them skulling well down the pool, and then get them to drop their elbows and lift their fingertips up to the surface.

    They'll find that they go backwards not forwards and their legs will drop. 
  • There's a right way and a wrong way to fix the Overglider stroke. 

    The wrong way is just to say your stroke rate is 35 strokes per minute, but it should be 58-64 strokes per minute for your speed.
Swim Smooth stroke rate chart
  • Just switching the tempo trainer on the new speed and trying to keep up would be a disaster.

    You need to learn where the handbrake occurs, fix that aspect of the stroke, and remove the handbrake. 

    If you remove the handbrake you improve the rhythm, and by doing this the stroke will speed up. 

    You can also then dial the tempo trainer back down, and they can feel what it was like to be overgliding really slowly, so they can clearly see the difference to ingrain the new habit. 
  • Another thing we use is the coach communicator by Finis, which allows me to talk to the swimmer while they're swimming. 

    There's nothing more powerful than saying they're doing it right, feel what it feels like and tune into the muscle memory of that. 

    Then going back to doing it wrong they can instantly feel the difference. 

SWOLF swimming

1:07:20 -

  • We're going to produce a t-shirt that says 'the fight against SWOLF'! 
  • SWOLF is an abbreviation of the terms swimming and golf. 
  • I'm sure most of your listeners is using a wearable to track their swimming, biking and running. 

    One metric they tend to use is SWOLF, and I absolutely hate it. 
  • If you take fewer strokes to complete each lap, and do it quicker, supposedly you're swimming more efficiently. 
  • If you're in a 50m swimming pool and you take 50 strokes to complete the lap in 50 seconds, your SWOLF score is 100. 
  • You can either improve your efficiency by taking few strokes, e.g. 48 strokes, still at 50 seconds, your SWOLF score would be 98.

    That would be deemed to be an improvement. 
  • Equally you could go down the pool in 48 seconds, 50 strokes, and your score would also be 98, which would se seen to be more efficient. 
  • People take it for granted, but it doesn't look at your physiological response to that (e.g. heart rate). 
  • For example, shorter swimmers would be seen to be less efficient than taller swimmers with long arms and stroke. 
  • The three best swimmers on the planet (Katie Ledecky, Gregorio Paltrineri and Adam Peaty). 
  • Gregorio is the current Olympic and World Champion in 1500m freestyle, and he was taking around 13 strokes more per lap than people who finished behind him in Rio. 
  • By the SWOLF method alone, these guys are the least efficient. 
  • If you could couple SWOLF with something like regular and reliable heart rate data, we might be talking about something that might be effective. 
  • We run a stroke rate ramp test on the course, which is 8x50m where you recognise where their natural stroke rate is. 

    E.g if it's 60 strokes per minute, you start them off 7-8 slower than that, so 52 for 50m. 

    You look at what time it did, how it affected their stroke, and any comments on what it felt like. 

    You ramp it up by three strokes each 50, so 50m at 52, then 50x at 55, then 50m at 58 etc. 

    You control this using the tempo trainer and you look at the results. 
  • For most people it'll create a bell curve, as the stroke rate increases so will the speed, up until a point where the swimmer is fighting the water. 
  • One of the drawbacks of the exercise is if you do it over anything longer than 50m fatigue starts to play a role. 
  • Also heart rate is so slow to respond over 50m that you can't get meaningful data from that. 
  • A lot of wearables, especially the apple watch, has got a continuous heart rate measurement. 

    We're doing a lot of testing and the data is getting better and better so I don't think it'll be long until somebody comes up with something better. 
  • In 2013 I was lucky enough to compete in the world's longest and most prestigious marathon swimming event - the Manhattan Island Swim. 

    It's a 48km swim around New York City. 

    I ended up winning the event! 
  • When we were doing the training, that race usually has water temperatures of 21-22 degrees C. 
  • 6-7 months prior to the swim, a hurricane went through New York and really disturbed the weather patterns, so when we swam the even it was 14 degrees C. 

    That's colder than the channel, and you have to do this swim in your standard bathers with no thermal properties. 
  • As part of my preparation, I did 35-40,000m of swimming every week, but also considerations of how to generate and sustain heat through the event. 
  • I'm not a massive guy, maybe 75kg for the race, and there were guys in the event that were 100kg who have much better insulation. 
  • However I knew what stroke rate I could maintain, and because I'm more of a swinger I have a shorter stroke with a higher rate, which allowed me to generate more heat and keep moving. 
  • Generating the energy helped me fuel my swim. 

The Smooth and the Swinger

1:18:25 - 

  • The Swinger is a stroke that doesn't look particularly pretty in the pool, but it is particularly effective in the open water. 

    The problem is, most coaches would try and correct that stroke. 
  • Smooths are easy to spot in the pool because they're very smooth and graceful. 

    There's nothing wrong with their stroke, we can all appreciate how good they look in the water. 
  • What really good smooths do well is knowing how to adapt their stroke - shortening it, forego the high elbow, sit in a pack and draft when needed. 

Supporting the Swinger & Motivating the Smooth

1:21:42 - 

  • The Smooth process is just a bit of tidying up here and there. 

    They are sometimes too greedy in their reach forwards and their hand may turn out slightly to get a couple of extra centimetres, usually then dropping their elbow a little on the catch and pull through. 

    They may need a little bit of adaptation to the open water. 
  • Some Swingers, can be a big overzelous on the stroke rate. 
  • Personally when I started the Manhattan Island swim, Adam was on the boat recording my stroke rate. 

    We knew my ideal stroke rate to swim for 48km was 81 strokes per minute. 
  • When you're in the open water you have no awareness of how long your stroke is or how fast you're swimming. 

    I averaged 58 seconds per 100m as I swam 48km around the island. There were currents and rivers around Manhattan and the net result is in your favour.

    I was swimming around 1:10 per 100 but was swimming faster due to the currents. 
  • Adam was able to shout at me from the boat what my stroke was, and I was then able to back it off. 
  • If the arm isn't controlled when it goes back in the water, they may also develop some crossover. 
  • Swingers are often told they're succeeding despite their stroke, but we try and tell them the opposite. 
  • If you gravitate naturally towards a Swinger, it may even be beneficial in long distance open water swimming. 

Self-diagnosing swim types

1:25:55 - 

  • Hopefully if you've listened to the podcast you might have started recognising your own stroke type. 
  • Failing that, go to swimtypes.com and there are various ways you can diagnose yourself from there.

    There are videos, you can read profiles, or a questionnaire which allows you to answer questions related to speed, background, experience etc. 

    The questionnaire can give a reasonably strong certainty of which swim type you're likely to be. 
  • The best way if obviously to see one of our swim smooth coaches who can assess your stroke and give you a diagnosis. 

    They can also then work with you to correct the flaws in your stroke. 
  • If you visit swimsmooth.guru you can go through the same process, but it's online coaching platform which can give you the step by step process to changing the issues you have in the stroke. 
  • Every swim type is a collection of a set of faults, so even if you can't recognise yourself, what you can do in the guru is go through the fault correction. 

    You can find specific sessions related to the specific flaws you recognise in your stroke. 

How common after the different swim types?

1:29:48 -  

  • The Arnie's and the Bambino's are often adult onset swimmers, and these guys will often be looking for information on how to swim and to improve. 
  • The Overglider is also an adult onset swimmer. 
  • Of all the swimmers that we see, around 40% are Overglider's, 20-25% each for Arnie and Bambino, and the remaining three types (Kicktastic, Smooth and Swimger) form much less of the overall percentage. 
  • Kicktastic's, Swinger's and Smooth's have often had a swimming background so are less likely to be looking for this information. 
  • These stats are based on number of downloads of people signing up for the Guru, or utilising swim types website, so it shows what the internet community looks like. 
  • On a day to day basis over here in Perth, swimmers from day one have been in the ocean doing life saving. 

    So we have a big percentage of swingers here, probably one of the reasons why I've been able to recognise this within myself and the faster swingers in my squad. 
  • 20-25% of our squad here are Swinger's, 20% in the Smooth bracket, and the other four types should be far less if I'm doing my job correctly! 
  • The whole process with swim types is to recognise where someone is starting from and give them a process to improve. 
  • Given the fact that Swim Smooth is based in Perth, you hopefully wouldn't see any outstanding Arnie's etc here!

Upcoming developments

1:32:31 - 

  • The Swim Smooth Guru is something we've been working on for about 5 years now. 
  • The development takes time and money, and we're super grateful for those who use the Guru and send us information and feedback on what works and what needs to be improved. 
  • Some of the key areas people want and we've listened to is better calendarisation and better programming of sessions. 
  • What most people want more than anything is the ability to integrate their wearables - e.g. Garmin, Apple watch, and join up the feedback loop. 
  • E.g. someone may take a session from the guru down to the pool, do the session and record on the wearable, go back into the Guru which will process the information and be intelligent enough to make suggestions. 
  • These wearables are forever improving, and what they can detect in a stroke may help us ID faults further down the line, and feed that back into the Guru to provide you with a better process. 
  • Nothing is ever going to replace good coaching. We're trying to develop our network of Swim Smooth certified coaches around the world. 

    The number one reason why people unsubscribe from the Guru is usually because people have found their local Swim Smooth coach and they're going to train with them. 

    The Guru helps you get started with these concepts, but you can't recreate the feeling of community and belonging which comes from swimming with a squad. 
  • One of the other parts of feedback is how to gamify and make a community of what we're doing. 

    We have 50 coaches around the world and each has at least 100 swimmers in their squad. 

    So there's a lot of Swim Smooth swimmers right around the world who want to share their data and their experiences of swimming better. 
  • We're working hard on these changes behind the scenes! 
  • Hopefully once it comes out it'll blow people's socks off. 
  • The danger of drawing too much from varied resources is ultimately confusing yourself. 

    What we've tried to build behind the Guru is a system of what we're putting out there, to try and give the process for improvement. 

Links, resources and contact

Links and resources mentioned

    Connect with Paul Newsome

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    Hi! I'm your host Mikael,

    I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.

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    Mikael Eriksson

    I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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  • Thanks so much for episode #188 on Swim Smooth types. Question: When Bambinos improve, do they evolve to other swim types? If so, what does that look like? Thanks!

    • Yes, all swimmers that improve enough will eventually be either a Smooth or a Swinger or a mix of the two. It could go either way although Bambinos probably more often evolve into swingers than smooths.

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