My stay in Perth is nearly over. I have spent the last couple of weeks checking out how Swim Smooth Perth operates and getting inspiration and new ideas for our own swim sessions back in Blighty. Whilst here I have been overwhelmed by the friendliness of the squad members and the fantastic generosity of Swim Smooth founder and old friend Paul Newsome in allowing me to attend the sessions, shadow coach, share his vast experience and to sit in on some of the 1-1 video stroke analysis.
Of course whilst here I can’t but help draw comparisons between the Perth Squad and our own swim squads. Needless to say there are some exciting changes coming to Bolton. But for now I thought a more lighthearted look at the differences might be a fitting end to a great holiday.
Swim wear: In the UK ‘Budgie smugglers” are pretty much extinct and in some pools illegal, here in Oz they are the garment of choice. Not only do they leave little to the imagination they are are also extremely bright! I have been glad of my mirror effect goggles to protect my retinas! Not to be outdone the girls are also celebrating a new age minimalism through their use of dazzling tiny bikinis to train in. I am beginning to think that there is some kind of black lycra shortage in Perth.
Swim gadgets: In the UK if you haven’t recored your swim on your Garmin then it simply didn’t happen, whilst here almost no one is wearing any kind of swim watch. They may rock up to the 5.30am session in a shiny Mercedes but apparently they see no need to splash out $$ on the latest wearable tech to then spend 38% of the session looking at their watch and moaning to each other that the session is 75m short.
Swim Toys: Fins, paddles, snorkels, ankle bands, parachutes, several different types of pull buoys all litter the pool deck like a chaotic car boot boot sale. AND god forbid you pick up some ones elses paddles! you’ll be met with a stare which reminds you that this guys great grandfather was sent to Australia for a reason.
Facilities: A no contest, not only does the Claremont Centre have a 50m and a 25m pool it also has a healthy cafe, out door play area, showers that you might actually want to use and toilets that have both soap and toilet paper. Oh and of course the obligatory BBQ area.
Coaching: Ah the million dollar question, and the reason that I made the long trip to Perth. Watching Paul in action has been motivating enough to get me enthusiastically out of bed to attend the ridiculously early morning sessions, which have including pool, beach and river swims. Paul’s pool side manor and communication skills are evidenced by the popularity of the sessions and confirmed by the glowing feedback that members of the squad were happy to share with me. The most obvious and impressive thing however, is Paul’s passion not only for swimming, but to spread the Gospel according to Mr Smooth. This is a man on a mission to continue to drag swimming and swim coaching into the 21st century.
What does this mean for the guys attending the Peak XV sessions? Well there is some good news and some bad news! The good news is that I am returning with new ideas, renewed enthusiasm and a clearer idea of how the Bolton sessions will develop. The bad news is that this includes the introduction of the infamous Swim Smooth Red Mist sessions!
Watch this space and be afraid! Very afraid.