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Anna Herber

The student who made me want to coach

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At the age of 10 I was taken to my first early morning swim training session (a whole 3 minutes away!) by my parents.

I was woken with a cup of tea and I remember moaning about how early it was. Dad was great, and reminded me this is what champions needed to do. He was going to drop me off on the way to work and then Mum would pick me up afterwards with a mad dash to get ready for school. It was no real hardship and having learned to swim many years earlier it was a natural progression.

Fast forward many years and many medals later – coaching did not immediately appeal. As I retired and thought about what was next, after a wonderful 4 years of swimming in a US college, a scholarship to a private sports school and the opportunity to race around the world, poolside with kids at swim club did not appeal. Via the sport of Triathlon and the opportunity to help adults learn to swim faster a new challenge was presenting itself. Kids were a different entity and did not appeal, as was adults learn to swim. Adults learning to swim faster was not really an easy option and not many had explored this area.  Keeley and I started SFT for exactly this.

February 2018 and a young adult by the name of Eid approached me to help him learn to swim faster. Without knowing his full story I was intrigued that already he was pretty quick having only learned to swim a few months earlier. In fact so intrigued I double checked with some local swim teachers to see if I was being told the full story. A rate of progress from 0 – 3km in 4 months seemed fanciful. Apparently it was true – and then Eid’s full story unfolded. Not only had he only just learned to swim, he had to overcome the harrowing journey of fleeing his home country on a flimsy boat knowing that he could not swim if something went wrong.

Most mornings Eid gets to swim practice on a bus in the depths of winter. My swim upbringing could not have been more different, and my journey made easy by supportive parents. We have been happy to support Eid as best we can writing letters to the Team GB and the IOC, asking for sponsors, swimming and racing with other groups to give him the best chance. Last year the IOC announced there would be an IOC refugee status team in Tokyo.
For more information on Eid’s story you can watch more here:

United Nations website
Ch4 reported on his progress last month
ITV London last Friday

We hope Team GB supports Eid, since no British-based refugees were put forward for Rio 2016 and the IOC refugee status team. It is not a simple process, and despite the United Nations UK division getting involved we are not sure what might happen. There are no strict qualifying times. At the moment all we have to go on is what we have learned from a few websites and the results in Rio. From Wikipedia we learn that a number of universality places are awarded to what appears to be nations not strong in swimming (–_Qualification)

‘NOCs may also permit swimmers regardless of time (1 per gender) under a Universality place, as long as they have no swimmers reaching either the standard entry time.[1] 

From some of the early preliminary rounds Eid will get close to what some of these other people were swimming in Rio. It is unclear if the IOC ROT status team falls under this guideline?

Sub 30secs is our objective and with a solid winter of training I see that happening Spring 2019. Sub 28secs is possible in 12months if Eids current rate of progress is maintained. Just to confirm 12 months ago he could barely manage a length of FC. It is a remarkable rate of progress. Currently, Eid is swimming approximately 34secs for 50m.

Good luck Eid!

Swim For Tri’s Top 10 Tips for getting the most out of your swim coaching

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When you’re putting in the hours with your swimming lessons, you really want to make sure that you’re doing the things in and out of the water that are going to make the biggest impact on your technique.

Learning the secrets to stroke development and upping your swim fitness in our swim coaching classes is all good stuff. But when you put in the effort during the rest of the week as well, you really do start to see amazing results that take your technique even further.

At our Swim For Tri classes we really love watching our students improve over a course of 1 2 1 lessons. It’s all about the hard work and dedication, and the progress you see when swimmers finally head out for open water swimming speaks for itself.

Based on some of the attributes we’ve noticed in our most improved swim students over the years, here is our top ten list of practical tips and winning attitudes that help you get the most out of your swim coaching. If you’re going to do something then do it properly, and advancing your swim technique is no exception!

1) Arrive on time

Arriving on time really is crucial. Not just so you’re not wasting your money and enjoying a full class, but also if you make a point of arriving a little early it really helps you to get your head in the game. When you arrive in good time you’re in a much more relaxed mental place, which means you can really work on your stroke technique and enjoy an unhurried class. Park the day’s stress in the locker room, and take a moment just to breathe and collect yourself. This will help you focus on your swim more.

2) Don’t forget your spare goggles

The thing about goggles is that they always seem to break just when you need them. We would highly recommend having some spare ones kicking around at the bottom of your gym bag so you don’t have to waste a session if the worst happens.

3) Do your homework

Time and time again we see incredible results from our students who commit to doing their homework, and do it regularly. When you’re paying for swim coaching you’re often booked in for just 1 swim per week, which means you have 6 days out of your week unlearning how to swim. Beat this formula by keeping your head in the game even when you’re not in the water, and get the homework set by your swim coach done and dusted.

4) Listen to your coach

Perhaps we would say this, but you should always listen to your coach and avoid overanalysing and complicating your practice with an onslaught of swimming technique information from Youtube or elsewhere on the internet. A professional coach will be drawing on years of experience as well as real life knowledge of you to give you personalised advice, so sometimes it’s best to trust in your coach and follow their advice to the letter.

5) Swim a full length

Don’t be a lazy swimmer! Try not to glide in to the pool edge, or stop early. When you think about all the swimming distance you’re skipping out on by cutting corners it really does add up over a year, so swim your full lengths and make the most out of your time in the pool.

6) Start each length with a great streamline

Start each one of your lengths in the pool with a really well executed streamline to set up an accurate length of swimming. It’s worth getting this piece of technique right to benefit your swim in the long run.

7) Be positive and realistic

When you’re learning something new it can feel like an uphill struggle at times, but keeping a positive attitude in mind means that putting in the effort it takes to vastly improve will be a lot easier. Remember that you can always improve – everyone can – but it will take some time. Be realistic and be prepared to put in the work to get to where you want to.

8) Invest time and reap the results

Improving your swimming technique is like learning a language or a musical instrument – the more time you put in the faster you will improve. Time invested wisely with good instruction from a great swim coach will result in huge improvements. Think about the amount of driving lessons it took to pass your test, and then how much longer it takes to really relax as a driver. It’s all about the week in week out effort and commitment to really get the results you want to.

9) Be mentally present

Having a bit of focus in your mind regarding your swim practice is one of the best things you can do to make all of these different elements slot into place. Prepare yourself mentally for your swim coaching by arriving with plenty of time, keeping a positive attitude, and psychologically committing to the process of improvement. Keeping a clear head in the water and being in the moment will have huge benefits for your stroke technique too.

10) Enjoy yourself!

Finally, our most important tip has got to be make sure you’re enjoying yourself! Remember to have fun with your swim journey. We’re much more likely to be disciplined and committed to physical activity practices we really enjoy, so make sure you’re appreciating how your body feels after a good swim and giving yourself a pat on the back for your achievements when you notice those improvements.

Thank you for reading this blog post about getting the most out of your swim coaching, we hope you’re getting all that you can out of your swim sessions.