Updated: Jan 14, 2020
by Mandi Kowal
A trip to remember with long-lasting impact. Yes, that’s exactly what it was. This past month I was lucky to be invited to the Swim Smooth Certification two-week class. This took place in Perth Australia.
So many of my friends said, “Wow that’s awesome.” My initial thought was “This is a huge commitment and my family needs to be on board.” I was lucky to get their blessing and was off setting up travel plans and making sure my coaching sessions were covered while I was gone.
I won’t talk about how many flights I needed to take in one direction, or about the long 15-hour flights, or 9-hour lay overs, or bad hair I acquired in each direction. Instead let’s talk about my take-aways from the trip and why you should give Swim Smooth Methodology a look.
WAIT! Before I get started let me say that there is nothing like the feeling of going from cold, cold weather to being in a warmer climate and feeling the sun again. It was heavenly and helped with jet lag. Yes, you probably already knew that but still had to share. And walking along the ocean is magical. Okay, back to business.
What became clear to me during this 2-week class was that there is more to the certification program than one could ever imagine from listening to Paul Newsome speak about the program at a one-day clinic or even the 3-day clinic. He is one of the founders of Swim Smooth.
You might know Swim Smooth from their 6 different swim types but there's far more to the program than that. I mention this because it’s where I see people get stuck or critical about their program.
Being on the pool deck daily for the two weeks, observing the squad workouts and their one-to-one video sessions, brought the full program into view. I saw that it was less about labeling a swim type and more about learning about the complete swimmer. This means coupling learning style and personality with their swimming style to have a lasting impact on their stroke. It's about the art of communication, so that each swimmer can hear the coach and be receptive to what is being said, and make the necessary changes. It’s about helping the swimmer as quickly and effectively as possible.
Learning how Swim Smooth coaches executed one-to-one video sessions was extremely insightful. After the initial greeting and introduction, coaches obtain four different video angles of the swimmer in the pool. They then spend time at the computer showing the swimmer what should be fixed with supporting evidence. During this time, they are simultaneously recording the computer session so the athlete can refer to it later along with videos and supporting documents.
Once the swimmer was in the pool receiving hands on coaching, we could really see how effective this the video session was. The coach and swimmer were outfitted with a head set so the coach could give instant feedback. Drills and tools were used to bring out the wanted stroke change and bring the correct feeling to the swimmer. Changes were brought about quickly and effectively. Now of course, the swimmer needs to keep practicing, ideally under the eye of an astute coach. I'd highly encourage a one-to-one video session. I can personally attest that after my one-to-one session, I was swimming about 4 sec faster per 100 during workouts just from focusing on my front-end of my stroke. I couldn’t believe it.
And if I were to give you one more piece of helpful advice it would be to check out the Swim Smooth Guru app. It’s a great tool for coaches and athletes alike. Whether you’re a relatively new or experienced swimmer there's something there to help your swimming. Paired with the eye of an experienced coach, you can make your best gains.
On a personal note, as I finish the work to complete my Swim Smooth Certification, I’m grateful to my family for saying “yes” to this crazy commitment. I’m grateful for my time over in Australia learning as much as I could and being tested daily. There is nothing more fulfilling than learning and getting better. The cost, the time and the work will pay off dividends to everyone I coach. Once again it was proven that great things come with hard work.
Now go out and make your swim count!