Month: December 2015


Port Nelson Sea Swims, Race 7, December 31, 2015


Great swim – about 1400m for the long swim, 400m for the short.

Here’s the results.

Here’s some photos by Bryony Marriott

Series points to date

Here’s the Nelson Mail story from the Stuff website, click here

Port Nelson Sea Swims, Race 6, December17, 2015

Feature photo, Simon Kneebone, left,  was 8th, followed by Caitlin Delany and Jon Linyard. Photo Jean Hodson

Lovely swim in good conditions. Here’s the results

Points table to date, click here. Please email with corrections.

Story in the Nelson Mail, click here

Photos by Peter Gibbs and Jean Hodson, click here



Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Series, Opening Splash, December 13

Here’s the results, click here

The story from the Nelson Mail

Swim tips from Lionel Padial, #3

Swimming smarter not harder.

Following the 1st swim tip re pacing a number of you asked me the same question, “How do I get faster?” Over the coming weeks I will talk about a number of swim and training techniques but this week I want to focus on getting smarter in your approach to swimming faster.

I spent many years working swimmers harder and harder (like I had done myself as a young swimmer and initially as an age-group triathlete) to try and help them get more speed and whilst it worked reasonably well for some I felt most if not all would gain more via a different, smarter approach. With the work harder approach most of my swimmers would get faster for a while but at some point their ever-increasing efforts began to destroy their stroke at which point the increased drag would cause them to struggle with their existing times.

Conversely I noticed that the best swimmers were always looking for ways to make the work easier rather than harder, they felt their way through the water whilst instinctively searching for ways to reduce drag. In reducing drag they created what I call a “speed potential” i.e. the potential to go faster once they found the balance between their form and effort. In most skills if we slow down a little we can perform the skill to a higher standard. Where speed is the goal the challenge is to add effort little by little with a constant eye on the maintenance if not improvement of our swim form.

From observing this in my swimmers I realized that great athletes become relaxed and fluid in their sport by finding the balance between effort and form, they do work hard but they know that to become really good they must constantly look to improve their form and therefore their efficiency of movement. In effect they have to look to make it easier rather than harder.

I began to talk to my swimmers more in terms of swimming easier yet at the same speed rather than trying to swim faster. I created swim sets that were focused more and more on form and ease of motion rather than effort alone. I worked hard at holding swimmers back with carefully written programs that gave them the time to keep the balance between working hard and holding technique. ALL the swimmers that embraced the approach became more efficient and therefore faster but the real bonus was that they took more ownership of their swimming and enjoyed it more!

Top Tip 1 – Rather than going to the pool and swimming reps / intervals hard whilst focused upon your times how about making the same times easier…. Relaxing your hands, neck and shoulders and focusing carefully on reducing drag to see what effect it has upon your times. Above all work on developing fitness WITH form i.e. your ability to gradually swim further and faster with an efficient and therefore effective stroke.

Top Tip 2 – If you find that you are a little slower try again a few times over a few sessions to see if it is simply a case of finding the balance between relaxation and effort.

Top Tip 3 – Do not increase the effort in your swims until you feel you can hold your form with ease. Ironically once you can do this more often than not you will be swimming faster anyway!!

Remember – swimming is a game of drag reduction – aim to make it easier not harder!


 Please seek me out at the sea swims if you have any questions re this article or swimming in


 If you enjoyed this article and would like to watch swim video clips or read more about

swimming please go to: or

Port Nelson Sea Swims, Race 5, December 10


Conditions were perfect.

Featured photo: Hayden Squance and Thomas Heaton took it all the way to the finish, with Thomas, on the right, taking it by a whisker. (Photo: Emily Trengrove)

Here’s the results, click here

Photos from Emily Trengrove, click here

Points to date, click here Any corrections, please email

Points table after four swims

Sorry this has taken a while to catch up with. From now on, it’ll be updated weekly. Keep an eye on your points and let us know as soon as possible if there are mistakes.

For the table so far, click here

Port Nelson Sea Swims, Race Five, December 3

Conditions were marginal with wind and rough conditions and because of the difficulties that would be experienced with support boats and kayaks, the race was cancelled.

Don’t forget the first Clements Windows and Doors Endurance Race, The Opening Splash, 2km from the beach to the yacht club, 11.30am Sunday December 13. The short option is 600m, Richardson St Steps to the Yacht Club – everyone must sign up and be at the beach for the race briefing by 11.15am.

Following the swim on December 17, there will be a barbecue – fish/sausages provided. Bring extra food and drinks and enjoy some time winding down after the swim.

No swim on Christmas Eve, December 24. There will be a swim on New Year’s Eve, December 31.



Swim tips from Lionel Padial, #2

Keep your elbow high!!!

 A few years back at a conference the world’s top swimming coaches were asked to list what they felt were the key stroke skills that differentiated average and elite swimmers. Almost unanimously they voted the high elbow catch (often referred to as the Early vertical forearm or EVF) as the top skill!!! – Wow!!! – This is obviously important!!!

Many if not most swimmers allow their shoulder and elbow to drop as they press more downwards and less backwards on the water during the catch-phase of the stroke. The list of negative effects this dropped elbow has on efficiency and speed is endless as well as predisposing swimmers to shoulder pain.

Learning to catch the water with a higher elbow is relatively easy but does require patience and discipline if it is to become “hard-wired”. Basically if you swim too long or too hard you will quickly fall back into the old dropped elbow habit. Even elite swimmers fall foul of this tendency during poorly supervised heavy training loads.

Take a good look at the attached picture, or for a larger version of the image go to:

Notice how the swimmer has his shoulder higher than his elbow and his elbow higher than his hand as he “grips” hold of the water.

You want to feel as though your elbow is closer to the waters surface as you get your “grip” and your fingers pointing a little downwards. Aim to get your palm and forearm facing a little more rearwards and you will be moving in the direction of a more effective catch.

There are a number of drills that I utilize to help swimmers achieve a more effective catch. My favourites are “front sculling”, “doggy paddle”, “single-arm freestyle” and “catch-up” – all of these can be found on youtube. Mix short reps of the drills with short reps of Freestyle and as the new skill becomes easier to hold increase the distance you swim.

Swim well, have fun!


PS – Please seek me out at the sea swims if you have any questions re this article or swimming / /training in general.

PPS – If you enjoyed this article and would like to watch swim video clips or read more about swimming please go to: