Training Groups (T2 then T1)

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION (8pm 25 NOV 08)                (MSM SC T2/T1  27 NOV 2016)

I followed this exactly six years ago. Poolside under the supervision of Bill Furniss with double gold Olympian in the lane. There are eight of us on the ASA Level III Senior Club Coach course which I had chosen to do up in Nottingham where NOVA trained. Tonight I’ll try it on our top Training Groups – not even competitive squads, but strong athletes all the same. It’ll be interesting to see by how I water it down during the course of the evening. At the Triangle, Burgess Hill.


Tumble on kick and tight streamlining + perfectly executed turns and transitions

Swim 4 x 50 FC T2 T3
as25m  FIST (Hands in fists drill)25m  CUP (Catch Up) @ 1.30 @ 100 / 1.15
Swim 3 x 50m BC @ 1.30 @ 1.00/1.15
High REC – stretch and reach with the shoulder
Kick 2 x 100m @ 2.15/2.30 @ 2.00/2.15
as 25 FC, 25 BC


Do you know you PB for 100m FC ? Hold Stroke Count  Inc: last 25m

T2 (?) T1
6 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 900m


T2 T1
4 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 700m


2 x 100m
@ on 2.00  PB + 15 @ on 1.30  PB + 15
1 x 200m IM
Slow FLY then Fast BC, BR & FC.
@ 4.00 @ 3.30
100m Easy BC 500m


T2 T1
2 x 50 FLY @ 3.00 @ 2.30
2 x 50 FLY Kick on back @ 2.00 @ 1.30
2 x 50 FC MAX



T1 550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m (Probably pushing it by 600m)

T2 550m + 1200m + 300m = 2050m (May reduce the warm up to 400m)


The session worked well as a blueprint for our T2 and T3, though half the distance was covered. It was easier to adjust to suit the swimmers simply by reducing the number of repeats in the main set and/or increasing the rest interval. I even did a diluted version with five teenagers in our G8 teaching group.



Fig.1. Diving with Rubin Guzman

Ideas drawn extensively from the brilliant ‘Swim Drills Book’.

Streamlined position against the wall
Streamline jump on side of pool
Swing the arms
Jump as high as you can
Land safely
Repeat three times
Land on the same spot that you jumped from.

Dead swimmer
Straightening up into the streamlined position’ with a dolphin kick into FC and away.
A warm up 50s FC and BC with emphasis on smooth swimming.

Increase to advancede skills and increase distance with higher grades.
glide out to the flags (or beyond)
glide and add a few dolphin kicks
then glide, dolphin kick a single stroke of FC and tumble (flip)
then glide, dolphin kick and two strokes.
Increase to five strokes
Then 100m FC with tumble turns
Then something similar on the back.


Running with hands in the air
From the shallow end

Streamline bounce along the black line
From a jump of the blocks in the deep end

Feet slightly apart
Drop you hands to your sides
Keep looking forward
Try to have a clean entry so that you body is completely straight.
Big toe over the edge
Swing your arms
Extend your feet as you leave the block so that you spring off your toes
Land feet first as far into the pool as you can
Keep your head forward
Get as much distance as possible. Use those legs.
Measure the distance
Take up the start position
Roll forward slowly until you can no longer hold your balance.
Release & dive forward by extending over the water and reaching a tight streamline position.
Punch a clean entry
From a dive:
Glide and add the BR underwater stroke
the full BR transition
And from 10 m out all the turns.


sculling, somersaults and surface dives, as well as treading water
Topple and jump
Topple and dive
Topple, dive and glide
Dive max, break-out to half-way
Step forward
Position the feet
Reach down ‘til your finger tips are just over the lop
Balance you body so that you are almost falling forward.
Your hips should be up and forward.

Butterfly for 8-11 year olds G4, G5 (with some G8 adjustments)

From Swimming

Fig.1. Make like a dolphin

My old mentor and senior coach, Beth, had some magic ways of teaching swimming. With butterfly it is all in the legs – get those right first before adding anything else. We’d then have, where space permitted, part of the lesson on mats around the side of the pool in order to demonstrate, run through and correct the arm stroke which swimmers new to butterfly invariably get wrong. For this session, for me, the emphasis is on the legs and the kick coming from the hips while introducing arms through skills, particularly single arm.

At this level, in fact through all teaching grades, we have two goals: develop skills so that technique is perfected, try to improve stamina and strength, although this can only really be achieved by swimmers attending two or even three lessons a week. Tough clubs will have kids spending a good deal of time kicking up and down the pool on the basis that getting leg strength first delivers body position later; this is a recipe surely for putting kids off? It’s all I remember from the first couple of years when I went to a swim school, kicking back and forth across widths: whilst it did the trick with me when I was five or six, it put many off swimming.

Today I started with streamlining against the side of the pool – before they got wet.

I ran through streamlined position, and then the way in which the fly kick starts by pushing the hips back and forth. Some feel awkward, some have a laugh. Repeat this once in the water where they should feel less self-conscious. It is such an easy thing for the kids to get right: pushing off and gliding in a streamlined position even at Grade 4; it is also a pleasure to see several of them getting into this habit early and still doing it years later. It pays dividends for all strokes with body position, with dives and turns.  It also ties directly into drills and exercises moving a competitive dive and at higher grades improving the dive and all important transition.

After this rough programme for our Grades 4 and 5 swimmers (ages 9-11, one or two years swimming) I make suggestions for a group of G8 swimmers, typically our more advances 12-13 year olds.

(I’d love to be able to show the swimmers a six second clip of a dolphin ‘in flight’. The above is my photo; I shot some video too. The trick and worry is bringing an iPad to the pool. I recently dropped my iPhone into a puddle of water in the bottom of a RIB while out on safety duties with the sailing club … and scrambled it. A very expensive morning volunteering … )

(Sense says a laminated print out. I am happy to show black and white images on a Kindle, especially my old Kindle. Not waterproof, but not too great a loss if it ended up in the pool.

One day will we have smart screens by the side of the pool?)

Steamlined positionStanding dolphin: bum back, bum forwardArm action for Butterfly (separate session)

I am guided, as always, by Rubin Guzman’s brilliant ‘Swim Drills Book’.


With emphasis on the dolphin kick pushing off the wall in both strokes

FC x 50m or 100m depending on the grade.

BC (as above)

The less they splash, the smoother they swim; the smoother they swim, the more control they have. I use words like ‘smooth, slinky, silent swimming.


Dolphin kick up and down the pool

Dolphin resting on lane rope.

With fins is best, but still works to have three at a time rest arms on the lane rope in the deep end, feet pointing down then doing a dolphin kick. (Only three at a time resting their arms on the lane rope or you risk annoying the lifeguard especially if swimmers decide to climb onto the rope)

Kick with Woggle: with arms out, this is OK on the back.

With G8 fly kick on your side, change arm every 25m. This worked very well at identifying how most still kick from the knees rather than through the entire body. I only did this with Grade 8 today, but on reflection would have done it with the other grades too as it is the clearest way to see that swimmers are still kicking from the knee, or not. I may even get a swimmer or two out of the water to walk the length of the pool checking out those who are getting it right and swimming like an eel, or a crocodile compared to those kicking only from the knee.

Sea Otter

A fun one ‘collecting mussels from the bottom of the pool’ – with a fly kick.

Single arm fly:

Still oo tricky at this level, but getting a straight arm recovery is so important.

Watch the straight arm as it comes over

Kick that hand in, Kick the hand out

IDEALLY you find a swimmer from a top group who can demonstrate this, occasionally a swimmer does it beautifully so you can show the others.


Dive and glide

Add a dolphin kick


Depending on the time left I will use the last minute or 30 seconds with a handstand, aiming at the streamlined position – again. So long legs and pointy toes.


These swimmers are reaching the stage when they will move to a training group (a non-competitive teenage squad) with the younger stars at this level going into a competitive squad. They’ve typically been with the club for three years or so and should have all the skills in place. Despite this none can swim butterfly which suggests we’re still struggling to teach this. I don’t think how we teach it has everything to do with it, it’s more that case that the serious junior swimmer will be in the pool for lessons at least twice, sometimes three times a week.

The changes to the above set were on the distances swam and the kinds of drills given.

The warm up was 100m swims, the kick sets 2 x 50m.

The drills had an element of endurance:

And longer working on single arm drills which then became

8 kicks 1 pull: count 8 kicks with 9 the arms go in and 10 the arms recover.

4 kicks 1 pull: count 4 kicks with 5 the arms go in and 6 they arms recover

As well as combinations of the single arm drill:

1+1+2 = single arm, other single arm, both together

2+2+2 = two single arm on one side, two single arm on the other side, then both arms together

Fly Kick on the side swapping arm after 25m worked very well.

In the space of six 25m lengths of this, walking along the side of the pool, I could spot immediately the problem and fix across the board. Pushing the bum forward and the bum back is just the start of this, then its a case of getting them to instigate the kick from the head or even the arms.

Finally, putting the whole stroke together at the end I was delighted that one of them just about cracked butterfly, while all showed improvement. All they need is a second lesson this week on butterfly before they move onto a different stroke next week.

Backstroke for 9-12 year olds, MSM Grades 4 and 5 (ASA equivalent NPTS 9 to 10) (+G8 additions)

G4/G5 G8
Post registration Pre-Pool By the wall, left shoulder, palm facing thigh, rotate arm as if bringing it out of the water, rotate so that the palm faces the tiles, twist shoulder, drop and ‘pull’ down to the thigh. Repeat. x3. Then turn and face the other way. Use Ruben Guzman. X
Streamlined positon against the wall X
Streamlined bounce in the water

Push and glide off the wall for start and turns.

WARM UP 2 x 50m FC

Emphasis on ‘long legs’ and ‘silent, smooth swimming’.

1 x 50m BC

Emphasis on body position, head back as if resting on a pillow.

MAIN SET 2 x 50m BC kick 50s
1 x 50m Float over knees. Knees should not touch, float should not bounce. Keep the legs long.
1 x 50m Ideally, kicker float above the head, held at sides.

Stretch. Body position flat on the water.

2 x 25m Pull along the lane rope

Instruct them to swap arms / Help them get the drill right

Applied FUN Double arm down the lane 1 x 25m

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

Off the block with a pencil jump then streamlined bounce to the shallow end

+G8 Single arm BC – stretched out and under the water

Swap arm after 25m

Single arm BC – arm raised for entire length.

Swap arm after 25m

Push and glide on the back in the shallow end

Add a dolphin kick

Start the stroke with ONE arm while stretched out

DRILLS 2 x 25m Submarine periscope

During stroke HOLD the arm in the vertical, laser the ceiling, then continue the stroke

Emphasis on a steady flutter kick

Repeat 2 x 25m Typically have the best one demonstate

Emphasis on counting three seconds when the arm is raised

2 x 25m Have them go down in pairs, side by side, synchronising the raised arm
RACE PACE 1 x 25m race pace BC

From the shallow end

Streamlined glide

Dolphin kick into stroke

Steady breathing

1 x 25m race pace BC

Using the grip on the block

Dive backwards into glide and dolphin kick

Sea Otter

1 x 25m

On frony, duck dive to the bottom, up to the top, swim along on your back, roll over.

FUN END Somesaults (towards BC turn)

Front Crawl – Grades 4 and 5

09h15 The Dolphin, Haywards Heath

I had two lanes: five in one, four in the other. Our first day back, but possibly some kids going to local private schools are still on holiday. The approach the club takes is to determine the main stroke and alternative activity for the week; in this case, front crawl and diving.

I add in plenty of streamlining exercises which serves many roles: body position, pushing off and gliding out of turns and dives and of course for diving itself.

A warm up might be no more that 50m Front Crawl and 50m Back Crawl.

‘Dead Swimmer’ in Ruben Guzman. The Swim Drill Book.

I then use the Kindle to show a page from Ruben Guzman book on how to do what I call ‘dead swimmer’ where the swimmers go from floating on the surface of the water into a streamline position, and from there with a few butterfly kicks into Front Crawl. We did this in the shallow end, starting at the ‘T’ of the lane and under the flags in the deep end. Four times.

2 x 50m FC Kick

2 x 50 FC Single Arm, changing arm at 25.

‘For fun’ tucking a kicker float between the legs and touching it with each stroke.

Also for fun, bouncing the length of the pool in the streamlined position.

From pushing off and gliding we added first the a dolphin kick, then added the stroke.

With a dive we did a couple of sprints.

Some backstroke, but with one boy not allowed to do breaststroke at the moment I kept off it. Ditto butterfly – work on the leg kick will help with butterfly development.

In every case I have their names within a few lengths. Not rocket science. I just go to the trouble of getting a fix on the face and the name and by using it often I am quickly corrected where I get it wrong. Kids are far more responsive when you use their name. Unless they are all of a very similar standard I will get them into ‘speed order’, though this is often more like ‘enthusiasm order’. I’ll alter the order often to try to stop anyone feeling they have ownership of a slot, whether at the front or at the back.

All reasonable swimmers and it made a change that all could dive.

Ages 9 – 11

A new season commences

After an 18 month break I return to teaching swimming poolside with Mid-Sussex Marlins Swimming Club. Most of the teachers will be familiar faces, though the kids will all be new … after a couple of years even the youngest are likely to have advanced through the ranks.

Here’s the programme for term. My intention is to write up the three sessions I take each week. This week is Front Crawl. I will take three 45 minute sessions, typically with three different age groups and grades.

TEACHING GROUP PROGRAMME 8th Sept- 31st Dec 2014



Date wk/beg


Contrast Act


Mon 8th Sept


Front crawl Diving  
Mon15th Sept


Backstroke B/C Turns  
Mon 22nd Sept


Breaststroke BRS turns  
Mon 29th Sept


Butterfly BRS turns  
Mon 6th Oct


Starts & Turns   Preparation for Dev galas
Mon 13th Oct


Front crawl Diving Dev gala Tues 14th

Grades 1-4 Triangle



Dev gala Sat 18th

Grades 5-8 Triangle


Mon 20th Oct


Breaststroke BRS turns  
Mon 27th Oct


Butterfly Fly Turns  
Mon 3rd Nov


Backstroke BC Turns  
Mon 10th Nov


Starts &Turns F/C & B/C   Competitive start Award Testing
Mon 17th Nov


Assessments/Front crawl F/C Turns All Assessments to be completed by this week
Mon 24th Nov


Breaststroke Sculling  
Mon 1st Dec


Backstroke Use of pace clock  
Mon 8th Dec


Starts & Turns BRS & Fly    
Mon 15th Dec










Advice to a 50 something wanting to take part in a Triathlon and not being hot on his Front Crawl

Fig.1. From ‘The Swim Drill Book’ – an absolute must. In Kindle version I show swimmers pages such as this to show them a drill. It gets their attention and works.

Buy a copy of ‘The Swimming Drill Book’ Robert Gustein. either as a book, or eBook, or both! I swear by it. I create lessons plans that integrate a combination of TWO parts of this.

First part is to do with ‘feel of water’ and for any levels offers stuff you can do in any local pool or hotel pool just getting a sense of floatation, streamlining and ‘purchase’ of the water by your hand … which is now akin to the blade of a boat.

Second part is to go to a specific stroke. The drills are offered for novice through to a squad swimmer, so plenty to build on and to chose from. Variety helps in numerous ways, keeping your interest, working different muscle groups, making you think about what your body is trying to do and importantly breaking the swim into ‘whole-part-whole’ which is how  most swimming plans are constructed.

Three parts to your swim:

  1. Warm up
  2. Main Body
  3. Swim down

You can stretch before you swim and stretch after too – especially important where we must get your feet/ankles adequately flexed so that they aren’t slowing you down.

Ditch the beach shorts. They act like a drone. The drag interferes with everything.

You would benefit hugely from a pair of mini-flippers. These will stretch you ankles in a good way, give you lift so you train in the right position, while exercising your legs. OK, you’ll not be as fast when you take them off, but at least your head will know why they have to kick more efficiently and steadily to keep you body horizontal.

Other kit, if the pool permits your use of them, would include a snorkel so that you can train without having to swing your head around to the ceiling to breathe. This will show you what you are aiming for, not the ability to breathe out the back of your head, but certainly the need to be a fluid as can be when you breathe so as not to disrupt the fluidity of your swim.

Everything is about STREAMLINING …

The better you are at this the far, far easier it is to swim for a long time without getting tired.

All analysis of a swim breaks down into the mnemonic BLABT. This is how I studied your stroke.

Body Off the horizontal. Heavy in the water. Needs to streamline. Practice streamlining exercises (push and glide, ‘dead swimmer’, using kicker float to strengthen/correct kick, and short fins. Aim to be parallel to the bottom of the pool!


Legs Kick needs to be from the hip, like a footballer fallowing through with a penalty. Or ‘long legs’ like a ballet-dancer. Practice this with a kicker float until it becomes second nature to turn on this motor. A leg kick will naturally fall into one of three types 2-2 crossover, 4 or 8. It looks like you’re a 4 or even an 8. This must be a steady kick whatever else you are doing especially as you breathe … your kick hesitates and your legs sink and the whole body starts to look like a Jumbo Jet coming into land. Talking of which your feet with toes pointing to the bottom of the pool like flaps down to land, or that you’re wearing wellington boots. Pointed toes are crucial. Think how much resistance is caused as they drag through the water otherwise. Your left foot appears to be cramped up, so even stiffer than the other. There are a set of land-based stretches you need to do asap. And can be done when you can’t get in the pool. Ideally for a few minutes morning and night.


Arms Balanced, even, strong and steady. Lifts at the ‘pocket’ tracks forward with a high elbow and places the hand on the surface. Pulls back in an oar-like action. You are fine until your hand touches the water. You then need to reach forward, as if you are pushing your arm into the sleeve of a coat, then cupping your hand ‘catch’ the water and sweep back with a gradual acceleration in an ‘S’ shape under that side of you body. Ideally neither hand should cross a central line through the middle of your body.  Drills include swimming one arm only holding a kicker float. Watch what your arm and hand is doing then follow it through the water. You need to be bilateral, so make the effort to breathe to the right as well. This is also important so that both left and right arms have an equal share in pulling you through the water. The arm pull is 73% of the stroke … this is what pulls you through the water, the legs in anything but a sprint are there to keep your body horizontal and so causing the minimum amount of resistance. All resistance is bad, so slip the hand smoothly into the water, and the kick must be below the surface too. Smooth, silent, slinky swimming is the most efficient (and looks good too).


Breathing Breathes to the left, rolls head to ceiling. You need, eventually, to breathe on alternative sides every third stroke. For now get the body position right and aim to breathe only once your lungs are empty, so possibly every fourth stroke. Breathing is a continual action of ‘trickle breathing’ so blowing out slowly, possibly through your nose … then an explosive inhale as your mouth breaks the surface of the water.


Timing Currently you breathe every stroke to the left. In time you need to learn to breathe every other stroke to alternate sides. In a distance swim you may want to be as comfortable deciding at times only to breathe to one side rather than the other … either so that you can see where you are going, or because waves one one side are making breathing tricky. A tiny wavelet is more of a problem than a roller!


There is masses on YouTube. So look for FrontCrawl drills. Ideally I would have videod you and if in a few weeks or months you can get me a video of you I can offer more fixes. I have various lesson plans on my teaching/coaching website which I can point you at or download and adjust for your use.

ONCE you have got the technique, which requires some fitness to never used muscle groups, THEN we start on your stamina to get through a distance swim. It does reach a point for everyone where you feel you could go on forever, really, afterall, the water is holding you up and you can kick gently and efficiently and pull gently too.