Friday, February 23, 2018

Weather / water predictions for the Rottnest Channel Swim 2018 - good luck!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you are all doing well and if you're racing tomorrow at the 2018 Rottnest Channel Swim are excited and confident in your abilities to get the job done.

This is the first year since 2007 I have been absent from the race (I'm currently over in Europe coaching until I return to the pool deck this coming Wednesday), so it's a bit strange to be missing out on some of the hype of the weather forecasts in the week leading up to the race. This is why I have tried my best to remain a little quiet and patient on these predictions until we got a little closer to the event. Given that in under 24 hours most of you will have left Cottesloe Beach heading for Thomson's Bay, I feel "safer" in passing on these predictions at this, the 11th hour, so here goes:

This suggests that the wind will be mostly behind you, pushing you across to Rottnest with what I would suspect will be relatively calm waters, with little chance of a sou'wester kicking in around mid to late morning. For most, this is good news!!

The WindGuru confirms what BOM is telling us about a strong easterly blowing in the morning. It also shows that the wave direction is running in opposition (thereabouts) to the wind, which might make for mildly turbulent waters beyond the 3-4km mark…definitely make sure you've had your Qwells just to be on the safe side!

The data above is realtime (8am Friday 23rd February) as opposed to predictive (tomorrow morning), but you can certainly visit this page for an up-to-date analysis as the race closes in. The arrows indicate a very mild south to north current flowing right now.

This information is also in realtime and probably a good website to keep an eye on. It also shows a south to north current is currently running in the channel.


I'd highly recommend downloading and following the instructions to add in your race number (please be so kind as to forward me that on so I can track you from over here in Londontown!). Within this app you can actually set various waypoints depending on where you'd like to trend. 

My best advice would be to select the Rottnest South option based on all the information above (subject to change of course). If you'd like to play it safe, Rottnest Direct would be the way to go, but if it were me, I'd be hedging on south tomorrow. This would also mean that your support boat and paddler would be wanting to line up on the south side of the course and for you to also line up on the south side of the race start. Of course, if everyone follows this advice, then that's going to make for a fair degree of congestion, but based on all the information that we currently have to hand, this would be my best recommendation.

Final tips:

These sage words from 6 years ago will serve you well if you're concerned about your shoulders on race day: 

I do wish you the very best of luck everyone. So sorry I can't be with you over these this year, but rest assured I will be watching until the early hours of the Saturday morning (UK time) to see how you get on, despite having to be up early to entertain and lecture in front of up to 51,000 people attending the world's largest triathlon expo where I've been invited to be the proud guest speaker for swimming for the 7th year in a row. Here's a couple of pics - see you next week to relive your war stories of the great day with you!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Congratulations to Byron and good luck to Julie!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're doing well this fine Thursday!

Bravo Byron!

I'd like to start off by congratulating newly turned-16yo squad swimmer Byron Kimber for last week picking up a Bronze medal in the Australian National 17&Under Open Water 5km championships. This is a huge a very well deserving achievement for Byron, so next time you see him whizzing past on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday morning, remember that this is literally one of the best open water swimmers in the country right now! We believe that Byron has a very bright future ahead of him, so well done to him - here's to the future!

Another Channel for Jules:

If you tune in to from 2.50am tomorrow morning (perhaps over your Wheaties before the squad session?) you'll hopefully see squad swimmer Julie Isbill complete yet another Channel swim to add to her Triple Crown of the English Channel, Manhattan and also Catalina. Tomorrow Jules will embark on a crossing from north to south of the Cook Straight in New Zealand! We wish her the very best of luck, here she is getting all prepped up:

Paul Away (15 to 27 February inclusive):

Unfortunately this year due to a clash of dates with the annual London Triathlon Show which attracts over 50,000 swimmers and triathletes over the course of the weekend to the world's biggest expo on swimming and triathlon, I will unfortunately miss this year's Rottnest Channel Swim. For the 7th year running we've been invited back as the keynote speakers and lead coaches for the fabulous event. It normally occurs the week after Rottnest, but this year falls on the same weekend, so whilst I won't be here in body I'll definitely be here in spirit and will be sending you over some last minute preparation tips as usual to assist with your final 7-10 days.

We will also be taking the opportunity whilst in Europe to finalise the filming and development of the Swim Smooth Kids program we've been developing with our coach Gabi in Prague, Czech Republic over the last 4 years, so it's going to be a very busy and exciting 10 days away from home but time that will be very well spent for bringing something really beneficial to the world of swimming. Watch this space!



Monday, February 5, 2018

Disappointed with your Swanny Swim time? Perhaps you shouldn’t be...

Hope these reflections help sooth some of your sorrows this Monday morning...😉👍

Friday, February 2, 2018

Forgetting Everything's All Right?

Dear Swimmers

Here's a little food for thought this weekend as a re-post from our main blog - enjoy!


For a lot of swimmers it's their self confidence that is holding them back. They tend to doubt their abilities, fearing at some point they'll look stupid or be shown to be a fraud and end up embarrassing themselves in front of everyone: I'm really not very good!

Oftentimes this can stem from trying to fit into what we think others expect of us:

I should be able to swim like an Olympian, always look good, always be smiling, find it easy to train hard, be thin, have the skin on a 19 year old, be strong, reliable and happy, and never have an off-day.

Of course none of us can ever measure up to that ideal so we end up feeling bad about ourselves. And since this expectation of perfection is constantly re-enforced by western society wherever we look, it can be a difficult pattern of thinking to break away from.

But here's a way to try. Seriously ask yourself this question:

Setting the negatives aside for a moment, what is it you are most PROUD about with
your swimming (or sport, or life in general)?

Obviously this is very personal to you but your answer might be something along the lines of:

"I'm a mum of three kids, I work full time, I didn't start this sport until I was 40 years old. Life's thrown a few things at me but I'm a survivor. I think I'm more motivated than most and certainly more organised, I work hard and I just love that buzz when I achieve a goal."

That right there is a positive identity that you can build from and face off those doubts. Something you can be proud of and live up to.

Someone once said that most of the time fear is just Forgetting Everything's All Right and perhaps it is. You're doing this because you enjoy it and because it's a positive in your life. So let's keep it real - all things considered you're actually doing just fine thanks very much!

Swim Smooth!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Making the headlines this Thursday afternoon...can you spot yourself??

Dear Swimmers

Firstly, have a great day tomorrow, doing whatever you've got planned!

Secondly, I'm pleased to say we got a quad-page review of the squad in (a UK outdoor magazine) today. You can read the full article here:

I love the summation sentiments here:

"After the 90-minute one-to-one session it was straight into Paul's last swim session of the morning. This was a mixed ability threshold development session across two lanes. It was a combination of a swim training session with drills, with the added benefit of Paul's analytical swim eye correcting and suggesting small changes to individuals throughout the session. Again, the atmosphere was great and although there was some serious training underway, it felt like everyone was enjoying it, which is key to any learning."

You can glimpse the overview here:

Monday, January 15, 2018

How are your 2018 training / racing / wellbeing plans shaping up for 2018?

Newsflash: we have some permanent places available in the following sessions - please email if you want one:

  • Tuesday / Thursday 615pm
  • Monday / Wednesday / Friday 930am

The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman (Michael Phelps coach) an excellent read - get it here (Jackson, 8, performing his best Phelps dive over a flamingo…of course!)

Dear Swimmers

I hope you've all had a great (hot) weekend and are "enjoying" the miserable (wet) start to the week!

I had an interesting conversation with a squad swimmer this morning (whom shall remain anonymous 😉) who really confirmed some of the thoughts and rumination within a great book I've just finished reading by Bob Bowman, coach to 23-time Olympic Gold Medallist, Michael Phelps. The swimmer in question was keen to let me know about some of their lofty goals for the next couple of years from a health and competition perspective, claiming that if they did so at least it would then be "out of the bag" and that simply by letting one person know (and the Universe...) they'd be somewhat more motivated to pursue the challenges they had set themselves. I couldn't agree more - accountability is a powerful thing!

Ironically enough, only last month I decided to follow Bowman's sage (but simple) advice to turn back the clock and start to document not only my goals and aspirations for what is now my 40th year, but also the training plan that would get me there. This is probably not new to some of you who keep online records through your Garmin's, Strava, Training Peaks and the like, but in the same manner as Bowman, I have decided to go a little "rustic" and to start keeping a simple hardcopy training diary to plot my exploits; and you know what? It's really working out well! 

With this simple method of planning things out, recording how I feel, projecting what I should do next, I feel accountable for the first time in a good number of years. It feels great. Given the rather crappy 2017 I had where stress from various online matters of plagiarism and significant copyright infringements took precedence over my own health, I'm determined to prioritise my health and well being in 2018 and hope you will also join me in that quest for yourselves if you're feeling like you need to crank things up a bit again?

Let us know what you're up to in 2018...

So what training / racing / wellbeing plans do you have for this year? Have you written them down yet? Have you told anyone? Don't be shy - flick me through an email as I'd love to hear what you're up to this year?!

Of course many of you are not far away now from the Rottnest or Port-2-Pub swims and then later still the Busselton Half Ironman and beyond. You might be feeling like you're right in the thick of the "grind" right now, and whilst I wouldn't ever dissuade you of varying things up a bit to maintain the interest in what you're doing, the over-riding message from Bowman's book was how he rates Phelp's consistency and stoicism as the key attributes as to why he was so successful. And if it makes you feel any better at all, have a little laugh to yourself the next time you're feeling a little hard pressed during the grind of a hard Red Mist or CSS session by reading the comments in one of my Instagram posts below - imagine ONLY swimming Red Mist Sessions FIVE TIMES PER WEEK for 12-14 weeks:

It pays to read the instructions - imagine the motivation required to do 60+ Red Mist Sessions in a row without any other training to balance things out?!

What I'm up to in 2018:

As mentioned, I will be turning 40 in September this year, and in true midlife crisis fashion and given the rather rubbish 2017 I had, this year I'm setting myself some lofty goals.

On March 10 I will be partnering up with Brad Smith (12yrs my junior) and Rottnest Solo 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finisher as well as reigning recorder holder for the Port-2-Pub 25km swim to do the 2nd where I placed 4th last year with another Brad (Hosking). Brad Smith might be seen as a pure swimmer, but we've been training back on the bike and run together for the last 6 months or so and I have to say he's a bit of a weapon in both those two disciplines as well. Brad is a great training partner and someone I really admire as an athlete too, so let's see what we can do this year.

As if 42km wasn't enough of a SwimRun around Rottnest Island, following on from this I'm hoping to qualify for the World Championships in Sweden in September (birthday weekend and all…) and put myself through the following 10km of open water swimming and 65km of hardcore trail running as brilliantly depicted in this video below:

Watch the crazy 4 minute video from 2017's event in Sweden here

Mates reunited…

But here's the best part, my best mate from my University days / British triathlon team and partner in crime (as you'll aptly discover in the photos below), Andy Blow, will be my partner (injuries, wellness and qualification permitting) for the event. It's fair to say that Andy has kept himself in WAAAAYYYYYY better shape than I have in the ensuing 17 years since we each graduated with a bachelors in Sport & Exercise Science, so again, I'll be playing 2nd fiddle and hoping to not let anyone down! Andy has already finished Top-10 in the World Championships in Sweden with another of our former uni mates, so the challenge will be really on!

Here's some fun photos for you to laugh at and me to cringe over on this wet Monday afternoon (all in the name of you thinking similarly about how you might wind back the wellness clock this year you see 😉) - you can probably see why we had the nickname "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum":

Embarrassing triathlon outfit photo # 1 (circa 1998) - Andy (L), Paul (R)

Embarrassing triathlon outfit photo # 2 (circa 1998) - I was so proud to be riding for Giant that year after having posted out >150 sponsorship applications and only hearing back from Giant! - Andy (L), Paul (R)

Celebrating at the "Blues Award Night" - the only two triathletes to have ever received a "Full Blue" for international triathlon representation (circa 2000)

How to crank the wheels into motion

If you get chance to read Bob Bowman's book I'd really recommend it. He's very much of the belief that a plan is not a plan unless it's written down. So here's mine, detailed with the hope that some of you might even consider joining me on some of my sessions. 

What does your plan look like? Have you written it down? Here's mine...

  • Monday - 10 x 300 in the pool at 545am followed by an hour or so "zwifting" (see below) at 730pm (when the kids are in bed)
  • Tuesday - repeat of the Technique / Endurance session you all do at 530/630am but at 1130am followed by some running intervals on grass / sand / hills before dinner
  • Wednesday - repeat of the CSS Development session you all do at 930am but at 1130am followed by a longer aerobic run through Bold Park before dinner
  • Thursday - early morning SwimRun practice down at Claremont Jetty followed by another hour or so "zwifting" (see below) at 730pm (when the kids are in bed)
  • Friday - a lovely restorative yoga routine at 12-1pm at 
  • Saturday - a long run and / or Zwift ride at some point during the day (around kid's activities)
  • Sunday - 2nd SwimRun session of the week - having some fun in the morning exploring Perth from this unique perspective

For me, getting creative as to when I do these sessions around work and family commitments is key (nothing new there to some of you), but here's the kicker for me and something you might want to ponder over yourself too…

I'm going to (try to) be satisfied with 80%…

I find it's so easy at the start of a program to be gung-ho but find that you're injured or sick when you really wish you were still cranking along. This concept of being satisfied with 80% is nothing fancy, in fact I read somewhere that a small community in Japan (Okinawa) which contains some of the oldest living people in the world, attribute their longevity to this life of moderation, especially with respect to not over-eating, its called Hara hachi bun me:

I've always been a 110% kind of a guy (and yet ironically tend to have much more sensibilities towards my athletes commitments, ailments and goals), so this year I'm going to aim to embrace some of the above and see what happens.

Would you benefit from this too perhaps? Not just in training, but in other aspects of your life?

Zwifting - the future of efficient practice and time constrained athletes:

As much as I'd love to push out my chest and say "yeah, I can run 65km trail for the ötillö no problem", this is definitely not the case. I haven't even run a marathon despite having swum many! To this end, for the last six months I've been back on my bike long before I started taking my first few running steps again. The idea has been to build up a little core stability in a non-impactful way and to simply get my lower body moving again properly. It's not been easy - I'm as stiff as a board these days it seems (hence the yoga on a Friday!). I overheard a few of you talking about this thing and was lucky enough to then have Sean Webb lone me his Kickr to give it a try. 

If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, Zwift is basically something that allows you to ride stationary in your tin shed when it's 40ºC outside, sweat buckets and move absolutely nowhere. Sound inspiring right? Well it's enough for over 400,000 people around the world to sign up apparently. You hook your "smart" wind trainer (mine is a Tacx Neo Smart for reference) up to a screen via your iPhone and you pedal away like mad training and racing with people right around the world, all represented as computer animated avatars. Still not flicking your switch? As you race around the streets of London, Richmond USA or the virtual world of Watopia in gloriously defined gaming graphics, you and all your buddies (wherever they are in the world) can be on there too! I can now hop on with John in San Diego (5am), Adam in Cambridge (midday) and me in Perth (8pm) and we can all ride around these courses, all experiencing the same gradients which transmit and control your smart trainer accordingly and even chat as though we would on a normal ride right in the "comfort" (and safety!) of our respective tin sheds. Maybe I'm just an "anorak" but the experience is amazing - 45 to 60 mins of quality "no soft pedalling" training easily being worth 1.5hrs on the road. What's more, it cranks your competitive juices as well (something that totally gets me motivated) - I just need to be careful about heeding my own 80% rule advice!

For more, watch this 1m20s video - I think you'll see why I'm hooked:

Watch this 1m20s video - I think you'll see why I'm hooked!

Back on the bike in my sweat shack pain cave using the very brilliant riding application

Earning my stripes (polka dots actually) for my first K.O.M polka dot jersey on the Epic K.O.M climb is great - you can ride with your mates all around the world - this was a short sprints 60 mins workout at 3am Perth time with 2nd place Kona Ironman, Lucy Charles (and about 150 other riders all simultaneously doing the same session! It was very cool!)

Getting prepped the right way and ready for a reward - Andy's company is the key nutrition sponsor for the ötillö race series in 2017/2018

Moving on

So take 15-30 minutes for yourself this week, jot down what some of your hopes and aspirations for 2018 are and (if it helps) flick them across to me via email - I'd love to hear what challenges you are taking on, in or out of the pool!

Getting some help down at the squad sessions with my budding 6yo coach who'll no doubt be helping you all out in let's say….ehhhh, 10-12 years time?!

We'll be adding a little more bite to 2018's Red Mist Sessions - watch out!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year! Welcome back to the squad!

Dear Swimmers

I hope you are all doing well and have had a great break over Christmas and New Year!

Many of you have started to return to the squad this week and Sally and Derek tell me there have been some commendable performances in the sessions thus far. Nice job. In fact I returned home from a wonderful trip to Finland and the UK with Mish and the kids (even visiting the big guy in Lapland: Video) and had the opportunity to swim in the 530am Wednesday Red Mist session yesterday in my jet lagged state!

This is the first time I've had the chance to join the squad in this capacity in well over 7 years and it was a great opportunity to see things from your perspective and have Derek and Sally cracking the whip and to have my lane 4 buddies keeping me honest! What was very apparent was just how easy it was to get through a 5k set despite having done no swimming at all for 3 weeks and my longest pool session in the last 12 months being just 3k, simply because of the camaraderie of the squad and that positive peer pressure to keep going. It's certainly a great way to get well back into the swing of things and kick off 2018 in the right way! 

I look forward to seeing you all back down on the pool deck in a coaching capacity next week. In the meantime, here are a few of my favourite photos from our UK trip for your interest (here's a cheesy video to get you started if you have access to Facebook:

The northern lights playing ball upon our arrival in Levi, Finland

Our lovely little chalet inclusive of sauna! Good job too as it ranged between minus 25 and 30 during our stay! Thanks Kirk and Elina from the squad for helping us arrange!!

Isla meets Rudolph!

We meet the Big Guy! Thus buying us two more years of "belief" from the kids 😉

Three generations of Nerdy Newsomes 

York Minster in gorgeous winter light

York Museum gardens - stunning!

On the set of Downton Abbey (not quite - but looks like it!)

Punting on the river Cam in Cambridge with Uncle Adam and Auntie Marietta!

Home again to this little fluff ball!

Happy New Year everyone!