Well, its been an interesting week or so back in the UK, which is why this second instalment about my trip has been delayed slightly. When flying to Australia I found the jet lag quite bad, but manageable. I could still get on with daily life (albeit adjusted to very early pool deck sessions) and function as a human being. Everybody told me that the just lag coming back is easier, I have not found this the case! Arriving in the UK on Monday 1st February at 15:00hrs I am now only just becoming fully functioning again, as I write this draft it is Sunday!
Anyway lets rewind a couple of weeks to the second week of Swim Smooth training which saw us joined by Adam as well as Emma and Paul. It was yet another early start on the sunday as myself and the other coaches returned to the beach to assist with an Open Water skills session. It was fantastic to see returning faces, and some new, getting into the water again. This time the swimmers went a little further out, again under the watchful eye of the beach lifeguards, practicing the skills learnt from the previous week and also gradually building new skills and confidences in the water. It is great to see and hear that the turn out is still strong in week 4 (of 5) in these community development sessions.
Monday was where our real work week started and we were entrusted to run with one of the Swim Smooth squad sessions. The work ethic of the Swim Smooth Perth squad is amazing, encouraging each other and getting on with the set at hand. The Monday sessions were pure technique squads, so it allowed us to get stuck in and give technical guidance and feedback. It was a bit like a South West Swim session at home except the pool was bigger and the weather was far warmer. We had some great feedback from the swimmers in the sessions and it’s always nice to be thanked for your help when coaching, but even nicer when the swimmers are new to you, and you new to them.
Tuesday was something slightly different, it was Australia Day so a big public holiday. There were no swim sessions on this day as everybody seemed to be doing an event and / or partying. We went on down to the beach to “Watch” Emma do her 10km race, which also served as a qualifier for her Rotto solo swim. A few of the coaches decided to enter the events on the day (there were various distances) and one by one they had signed up. Those that know me well will tell you I am not a big fan of the taste and feel of sea swimming, but do it anyway on occasion when visiting the coast and coaching swimmers for sea based events is not a problem. Although the sea looked beautiful I certainly had no initial interest in swimming in it, knowing what was in there (stingers were rife and I watched Jaws far too many times). But as my fellow coaches entered events one by one I decided that I was not going to be the only one stood watching on the beach and got my entry in literally a few minutes before the desk closed.
So, here I was on a beautiful beach about to swim with the jellies, having restarted my swim training only 7 days before. We started from a deep water start, conditions were ok and for the first few hundred metres no jelly fish stings, to be honest I started to wonder what the fuss was all about. Then I got zapped behind the ear, not that bad I thought. Then on the lip, still not to bad but would not want one in my mouth. Then I felt one wrap around my arm and under my arm pit………….ah so that’s the fuss! from then on I swear all the swimmer next to me could hear is my swearing as sting by sting was wrapping around each of my arms, face, neck and well
anywhere on my torso. The jelly stings are still visible on me now, especially when it gets a bit warm poolside. I did not race the event as such, just took it nice and easy and established my comfort zone but it was great fun. The finish was a beach finish and I am told the Aussies love a beach finish and little run to the finish, I swam as close as I could to shore and hopped up in under knee-high water. I was quite surprised to see many of the swimmers standing up far too early in the swim or trying to dolphin dive out of the water, a slower technique in my opinion which was proved on the day. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and the evening watching the fireworks from the beach, a day to remember for sure.
The next few days were back to work and saw us up the learning curve considerably and complete some very long days poolside. Lots of squad sessions, individual attention to drills, filming, trying things in the pool ourselves all added up to a fantastic last few days with the Swim smooth team. Lots of ideas and methods to bring back to the UK, many of which I already do in my sessions but with little tweaks here and there we can bring even more to the sessions.
A few highlights to the trip:
1 – Working with Paul, Adam & Emma. The amount of expertise in that group is phenomenal and it was great to have the rare opportunity to learn off them. Apparently 1000’s apply for swim smooth certification, only a few get the chance to go to Perth.
2 – Meeting all the other coaches on the course, 6 of us in total and we all learnt from each other over the 2 weeks, sharing business and swim ideas and having a great time.
3 – Meeting Sue Oldham. Sue swims in Paul’s squads and is somebody I have read about in the past as have my swimmers. It was a genuine pleasure to meet such an inspirational swimmer and i must visit Dover when she is here in 2017 for her next attempt.
4 – Swimming at Challenge stadium, I got the opportunity to swim there on Friday afternoon with Emma. What a fantastic facility and it is just such a shame we don’t have anything like this in the UK. Three 50m pools (2 outdoor), a 25m pool and a diving facility, wow!
Incidentally Emma became my 2 week coach out in Perth encouraging me (aka tricking me) into swimming longer and faster. I best keep up the good work in the UK as I don’t want to feel her wrath on our next meeting 🙂 (Thanks Emma). The hard work with my personal swimming paid off as CSS testing earlier this week reveals an improvement of 10 seconds per 100m in just 2/3 weeks.
Overall this was an amazing experience and one I would happily go and do again, and I dare say that Perth may be on the list of places I will go back to in the future. But now the real hard work starts, a few months of monitoring, mentoring and working to become one of the few Swim Smooth certified coaches in the world. Its going to be a great journey and I can’t wait to develop and grow both myself and the South West Swim Swimmers and those swim and Tri clubs that use our services. The new hints, tips and knowledge are already being put into our squad and video analysis sessions and the swimmers will feel even more benefit of Swim Smooth with the South West Swim twist, I can’t wait to drive all of this forward in the years ahead.
Many thanks to all involved in this trip, the lovely welcoming swimmers in the Swim Smooth Perth squads and also my lovely wife and kids for supporting me whilst I was away, we had never spent more than 2 nights apart before this trip.