Amit Chaudhuri, February 2019
I’ve been blown away by how much Fiona’s Swim Smooth squad sessions have helped me with my swimming; particularly with my endurance. The last session I did, probably my 5th, we swam a almost 2km and I didn’t think I could do that sort of session without killing myself. And the session was really enjoyable. One thing I am finding interesting/challenging is trying to take the learning from the targeted exercises and drills specific to my stroke on board. A lot of the work on catch/pull/recovery etc. is altering my stroke at the same time that my endurance is being extended. I also want to reduce my reliance on breathing to the left. Trying to do all this at the same time means my stroke can sometimes feel like it is losing something. None of this is a massive surprise, but it is interesting to work through for me and I hope having it explained from my point of view is useful to you.
Summary: very, very happy with my resolution to make the Sunbury sessions the cornerstone of my 2019 swimming programme. The Wednesday night session is a real highlight in my week. When I get some more ‘homeworking’ formally agreed, I will start to up my weekly distance: at present I do one morning at the weekend at Hampton, plus the Sunbury squad. I’d like to do a little bit more. 🙂
Matt Price, February 2019
“After some disappointing swim splits in 2018 races, a deeper dive into my training highlighted one thing that was missing in 2018 in comparison to previous years, I’d lost the quality after not making as many squad sessions as previous years. Since Christmas I’ve got back into squad regularly hitting Wednesday and Friday sessions in a block really focussing on catch and at a recent test week the results were obvious. I’ve taken 5 seconds off my CSS (1:39 to 1:34) bringing it down to an all time PB, which I’m over the moon with and is testament to the structure, feedback and overall quality of that squad sessions provide”
“Thanks for Sunday – the video analysis workshop absolutely made so much sense and has given a much needed winter focus to my training. Cannot wait to get cracking with it – I will crank up the laminater to waterproof my new follow up swim program!”
“The Monday triathlon specific swim sessions in the outdoor pool have proved to be absolutely invaluable in improving my ability to swim in open water and in being confident swimming in a wetsuit. I spent last summer swimming frequently in a lake with no improvements in my technique, confidence or swim speeds, in fact, I started going backwards. After only 6-8 weeks of triathlon specific outdoor pool sessions I am now not only a far more confident swimmer, I have all of the techniques and skills that I need to be able to adapt my pool swimming to open water.I have just completed by first sea swim in a race and came out confident and smiling and that would have been inconceivable only a few weeks ago. I cannot recommend the triathlon specific outdoor pool sessions enough and also Fiona’s swim squad – over the last 9 months I have gone from fearing triathlon racing because of the swim and a fear of the water to the swim being my favourite part of the race and loving it. Fiona and Lucie have given me the confidence, techniques and skills to overcome my fears and love swimming. I cannot thank them enough or recommend the training sessions highly enough and look forward to continuing to develop my swimming”
Julia sea swimming on the Weymouth IM 70.3 course, enjoying applying her open water skills and confidence gained from her weekly training at our triathlon/ open water squad sessions!
“Thanks, the workshop was brilliant, just what I needed and I had a swim today to start putting your tips into practice. After warm up I did a 750m swim which I think was not only faster than usual but more importantly, at the end I was barely out of breath, certainly recovered within about 30 seconds. I hope to carry that forward to Blenheim next week and we shall see how it goes. Thanks again, hope to see you again.”
“I was a very amateur tri participant and was keen to have a go at a half distance but the 2km swim was putting me off. I had a session with Fiona in April 2018 and it was the most satisfying and enjoyable coaching I’ve ever had. The video 1:1 quickly exposed my flaws and then Fiona was great at giving me just enough corrections to improve but without making it too complex. I was slightly surprised for Fiona to say that the session would keep me going for 6 months – but it did. 6 months later I did my first half distance tri and confidently completed the swim in a faster time than I would have expected – and (more importantly) really enjoyed it!”
“Thanks so much for a great session on Sunday. You really took the time to go through what each one of us can improve in our technique. I just watched the analysis again. The combination of the video and the analysis really powerful. I feel like I never would have understood what you were saying if I hadn’t seen it for myself on the screen. I’m noticing new sensations in the pool now straight away. I’m sure this will transform my swimming. Thanks again.”
“Thank you so much for this morning – it was phenomenal and exactly what I had dreamed of.Also, it confirmed what I thought might be the case – ie that my stroke is a big issue, and it’s probably not in my imagination that I don’t feel to be improving as much as I would expect for the effort put in!. The feedback and training regime is exactly what I am wanting – I did not imagine it existed so it is the ultimate joy to have had the video done and to have got a programme!”
“One week on from the Swim Smooth video analysis workshop and I’ve already shaved over 2 mins off my time to swim a mile simply by putting into practice the advice I was given. It was really invaluable being able to watch my own stroke and see it compared alongside a professional’s. Can’t recommend highly enough…wish I’d done it earlier!”
Flora MacDonald, January 2017
Thanks Fiona, I thought this morning’s video analysis and stroke correction workshop was excellent. I took so much away from it, lots to think about and try and I got inspired and I’m now really keen to get in the pool more. Listening to the recording and re-visiting what you talked through has already helped embed the learning so its a great approach – or one that works for me. Thanks so much for your time and hard work. Look forward to seeing you at one of the Richmond squad sessions soon.
I thought I should send you a quick note with an update on how useful I have found the morning’s video analysis workshop that I did with you in Richmond last summer. When I came to your workshop my goal was to reduce my 1500m PB by just over a minute down to 20 minutes. I’m pleased to say that I reached this target a couple of weeks ago, based on a pretty consistent regime of 3 (quite short) swims weekly.In case it’s of use to anyone else here are the things I found most useful following the workshop:1. Doing at least one technique session weekly (having not done any for about 20 years). The video analysis revealed some pretty glaring deficiencies in my stroke and using the film from the workshops I have concentrated hard on fixing those as best I can, now that I can see what the problems are. I found the Finis strapless paddles especially helpful2. Training with a Tempo Trainer Pro. This has been fantastic for tracking my progress and, in particular, giving me the confidence to slowly wind my stroke rate up to 75 per minute from the low 60s3. And this was a real surprise, learning how to do a 2 beat kick. Previously, not only were my legs not really doing anything – I slowly learned that they were being worse than useless by kicking totally out of time. But it was REALLY hard to unlearn what I knew and get the timing right on the 2 beat kick. I spent many months struggling to do it and often felt so off balance in the water I was worried I would flip over onto my back! But one day it clicked and kicking properly resulted in an immediate improvement in my timesSo, it’s been a fascinating and very rewarding 12 months and I am delighted to be swimming faster now at the age of 47 than ever before. Thanks again for the workshop last Summer. It was worth every penny and I will probably come back and do another one in a year or two, having been convinced that it is indeed possible for old swimmers to learn new tricks.”
Arnie Scholte, May 2016
In the 4 weeks since my swim video workshop I have seen vast improvements. I first concentrated on breathing (as I didn’t realise how much I was holding breath in until raising head) and extending my recovery. This alone saw me finishing same distance swims feeling more “relaxed”. Still a lot of work to do there but confident I am improving, my average 100m swim times (over 1500m) dropped from “2 min 6 sec” to “1 min 56 sec” in 6 sessions. I would highly recommend the Swim Smooth workshop.
Harry Phelps, April 2016
Just a quick note to say thanks for the Swim Smooth workshop today. I found it incredibly helpful to have an expert opinion on my stroke and can’t believe I haven’t done it sooner. Hopefully see you soon at squad training with a fresh dose of speed! Many thanks.
Judy Rees, April 2016
Hi Fiona, thanks again for an excellent workshop. I’m excited to share that this morning, I ventured into the fast lane at my local pool for my main set – and felt great about it. I was there quite legitimately, as by far the fastest in the middle lane. Plus, no shoulder/arm pain! This stuff clearly works.
Ian Talbot, April 2016
Just a very quick note to let you know of some startling (in my eyes!) progress made as a direct result of the Swim Smooth video analysis workshop that I had with you back in December. In short; CSS has dropped by 20 seconds !! I can’t tell you how chuffed I am with this – despite it being more likely a reflection of my starting point – still with the knowledge that there is plenty more to work on. I’ll keep at it and maybe give you another satisfied customer report in the coming months. Thanks again.
Hi Fiona. Thanks again for the swimming wisdom and opportunity to train with such a cool squad. Looking at the calendar this is actually week #6 of my ‘return’ and my CSS has improved about a second per week. Hah, never thought I’d say this but I’m really enjoying swimming!!
Giles Horsell, Feb 2016
Just wanted to say a huge thank you for yesterday’s Swim Smooth workshop. We all found the experience really helpful and it’s given us so much information to work our technique and won’t hesitate to recommend this to our friends in the Tri Club. Looking forward to getting back into the pool and working on my technique! Many thanks for all your help.
Megan Packer, January 2016
Thank you for the fantastic workshop today Fiona. It was a very eye-opening, reassuring and incredibly interesting workshop. I will definitely look into getting some funkier togs and would like to come along and try your Friday squad sessions at Richmond Pools on the Park. Thanks again for today, it was a great investment into my swimming!
Steve Hobson, December 2015
First 6 months being coached by you:
- PB swim @ IM (sub 1 hour)
- PB bike @ IM by 40 mins
- PB Ironman by ~ 1 hour. You rock!
Will Harding, June 2015
Just a quick note to thank you for all the coaching, encouragement and friendly poolside banter over the past 18 months. I thought I should let you know that since joining the Richmond Swim Smooth squad 18 months ago I have taken no less than 13 minutes off my 1500m swim time, from the embarrassing ‘why is mine the only bike in transition?’, ‘the triathletes went that way, mate’ time of just under 40 minutes in my first Olympic distance race to just under 27 minutes last weekend. In the process qualifying for my age group for the World Championships in Chicago. Equally, if not more important that swimming is now something I enjoy for its own sake, with the confidence that with more time in the water, and more great coaching, my swim splits will keep on improving.
Tomek, April 2014
At the end of 2013 I decided to learn the front crawl properly. I think I was tired of being lapped by people doing kick sets and wanted just to be able to swim a few hundred meters of leisure FC without gasping for breath. I tried DIY, youtube, even had some traditional lessons, but what really jump started my progress was joining the Richmond squad and later having my stroke analysed by Fiona.
I come to the squad for three reasons: First. I like to think about my Friday swims as mini lessons, with feedback being passed by Fiona every now and then. There is always something to work on which keeps my over-glider swimming personality happy. Second: Swim a quality coached session tailored to my skill level. Third: Motivation which I get a lot of by finishing the challenging sets or just by being surrounded by people who are enthusiastic about swimming or triathlon. Could I get it all swimming on my own, I doubt.
So, never being really competitive and actually avoiding sport when I was younger I finally discovered the sport I enjoy and started entering swim events myself. The highlight being so far for me: Dorney Lake 1.5km done in 24minutes 10s and this weekend 5K Swimathon swam in just under 90 minutes. Happy swimming.
Sue Childs, Sept 2014
Hi Fiona, wanted to let you know that Alastair and I swam the SwimBritain event again this year and I had a massive improvement on my times (yay!). My times last year were 6.24, 6.20, 6.17, 6.31. This year I did 5.47, 5.42, 5.42, 5.41. Alastair’s last year were 5.28, 5.28, 5.29, 5.32 (post Ironman). This year he did 5.16, 5.13, 5.15, 5.22 (post virus). All very consistent – as you like it!
Thomas Reynolds, August 2014
Fiona, I just wanted to give you an update on the improvements I have made in the last couple of weeks mainly thanks to your 1-2-1 video analysis session and subsequent squad sessions. I have just returned from a lunch time swim session of 5 x 400m with 30 seconds rest. On my way to the pool I questioned whether I would be able to complete 400’s as I have in the past usually either become exhausted or bored or a combination of the two.I was quite shocked today that not only was I able to complete it but I did it in a split time I didn’t really think I was capable of, averaging 1’52 pace per 100m. As the session went on I even started to bring that down to 1’51. Additionally I felt I could have put in another couple of 400m efforts if I didn’t have to get back to work. On each of the 400m I was focusing on the drills we did last week and key elements you identified in the video analysis. With my first Ironman just over 4 weeks away this is exactly the kind of session I needed today so thanks for your help so far!!
Martin Budden, July 2014
Fiona, I thought you might like to know that yesterday I entered a 1500m OW swim and finished in 25:13, which is a personal best. Previous best was 28:01, so I’m pretty pleased. The discipline and structure of the pool work at squad training has certainly helped me a lot. My own workouts tend to be longer and slower. (18/03/2014)
2 weeks later…. Fiona, I did another OW 1500m at Marlow this evening and did another PB of 24:56. I was really pleased to get below 25 minutes for the first time. (31st July 2014)
Latest…. I was really happy with my test results last night. Since my last test my 400 went from 6:48 to 6:25, my 200 from 3:18 to 3:01 and my 100 from 1:42 to 1:32. I think a large part of that is due to the video analysis I had with you on 25th Jan, so a big thank you for that. (26/03/2015)
Rob Yates, July 2014
Hello, I just thought I would drop you a line regarding my progress since my last swim analysis, I’ve worked on adjusting my stroke with all the points which were pointed out and have to say it’s working GREAT….The 1st swim after the video analysis I felt like a completely different swimmer, there was an unreal feeling of momentum though the water. It a feeling that I’ve never had before, but seeing my times improve imy triathlons have been such a buzz and confidence boost. My 1st standard triathlon which was a 1km tidal river swim I was out the water and running to the bike in 18.44 which for me is great, to add another plus for me was completing in my 1km sea swim and finished 5th with the strongest current the race has seen in 6 years. It just shows Fiona’s coaching approach and skills combined with the Swim Smooth system works!
Laura Wise, June 2014
Hi Fiona, it looks like the CSS work is paying off. I did 5:22 for 400m today, that’s 16 seconds off and new PB! I was about to combust but I didn’t give up! I’m glad I’ve learnt about CSS sessions – thank you.
Kate McCombe, May 2014
After a one-to-one video analysis session with Fiona at the beginning of the year, I got a place in the Richmond Swim Smooth squad in March. Without any hint of exaggeration, I have been absolutely staggered by how much I have improved over the last 3 months! I have felt my fitness steadily increasing and with it my confidence, endurance and my ability to pace myself. Consequently, I have seen my 400m time fall by 17 seconds since I joined! Each session is fantastic and organised by Fiona with military precision and efficiency so that not a minute of pool time is wasted. The sessions are challenging but, as a result, extremely satisfying. The hour flies past because every set has a focus and an aim to hold your concentration. I have found the opportunity to practise open water skills such as swimming in a pack, drafting and surviving semi-drowning and the odd kick in the face once a week invaluable and was amazed to find myself 3rd out of the water in my age group in the recent British Triathlon Sprint Championships. This is a direct result of joining Fiona’s squad which is by far the smartest training move I have made to date. I can’t recommend it highly enough and am looking forward to the rest of the season!
Richard Cotton, May 2014
Morning Fiona, Just back from Mallorca 70.3 and swam 36 min. taking 3.5 min off last years time. Still room for improvement but heading in the right direction!
Harry Cragoe, April 2014
A structured, methodical plan that has seen incremental and steady improvements over a 8 week period where all my preconceptions on how to swim effectively have been pushed to one side to be replaced with a logical, intuitive stoke and style. Fiona and Steph have been incredibly supportive coaches and great teachers, quietly demanding with a constant friendly smile. Thoroughly recommended to anyone that wants to enjoy swimming more and be more efficient and effective with every set.
Robert Maslen, April 2014
The weekly technique and endurance sessions with Fiona Ford of Triathlon Europe at Richmond Pools on the Park are excellent and very professionally run. Each session is well planned and communicated in advance so it is clear what skills are to be the focus for the week. The bi-monthly css sessions enable us to measure progress. Over the winter I have developed much more confidence in the water and gone a long way to eliminating basic errors such as crossing over the arms. I feel much more capable in the catch and the pull through of the stroke. Money very well spent!
Duncan Smith, 2014
It’s inspiring to be coached by athletes that have achieved real professional success through following the same training plans. Finding time to train isn’t easy, but having enjoyable group sessions at set times helps with ensuring I swim at least once a week (most weeks) and I always notice improvements if I can find the time to train more and follow the training plans rather than just going for mileage.
Dan Spalding, 2014
The pace & speed sessions are great. Fiona organises structured workouts each week (yet with plenty of variety) so you’re always guaranteed a high-quality workout. These sessions are one of the most productive & enjoyable parts of my weekly training schedule
Oliver, April 2014
The squad sessions have been invaluable in taking my swimming to the next level. I now have something specific to improve each time I get in the water.
Julian Sampson, April 2014
Swimming was my least favour event in triathlon, as it felt the most mundane training session. However over the course of a weekend workshop and weekly swim sessions I’ve really enjoyed the structure and the realisation that some of my old swim habits are redundant and replacing them with elements of swim smooth technique have meant that swimming is fun again and it also feels as if I’m improving!
SJB, April 2014
I have really enjoyed the training sessions. There’s a nice atmosphere and Fiona is always full of enthusiasm and is well organised.
Jenny Shaw, 2014
Since having my video analysis with Fiona and then joining the Friday Swim Smooth squad four or so months ago I have knocked 2.5 – 3 minutes now off my 400m swim time! Even more importantly I now have the confidence and knowledge to know there are further improvements to make and time to loose. Swimming on a Friday evening might not sound like the best way to end your week but believe me it’s worth the effort if you’re looking to improve your swim.
Greg Sendell, Sept 2013
Fantastic. I thought the workshop, analysis and advice were great. I can’t wait to hit the pool and hopefully start to see some improvements.
Scott O’Brien, June 2013
Out of interest following on from our session I’ve used the wetronome for my lake swims and it has knocked 10 minutes off of my 3K time for seemingly no extra effort which I’m very pleased about.
Michael Williams, January 2013
I was getting a little frustrated with my swimming – flogging myself up and down the pool 3 nights a week without seeing much improvement – so decided to invest a little in technique to complement the pain! My video analysis session highlighted some basic and relatively easy to fix issues – my technique has improved materially, I’m noticeably faster and much more motivated as a consequence. Getting my breathing right (or less wrong!) has enabled me to sustain bilateral breathing for longer – not only do I feel far more balanced but I am now swimming at least 5 seconds/100m faster than before – that’s over 1 min faster over 1500m. Fiona also encouraged me to do a stroke rate ramp test – it showed that my efficient stroke rate was 10 strokes/minute faster than I was used to. I can’t (yet) hold that rate for more than 6 or 8 lengths at a time but it’s something to work on (and if I get there it would be a couple more minutes save!). With Fiona’s help I feel I’ve made real progress in a relatively short time… it keeps me going back to the pool.
Anne Fairbairn, August 2012
It’s a very friendly environment, hard swimming and totally enjoyable. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to take their swimming onto the next levels.
Josh Roberts, July 2012
Without a doubt the most important and valuable investment I have made in my triathlon training and physical fitness. The improvement in my swimming is fantastic and the weekly sessions when combined with an individual session I noticed a huge leap in my swimming ability.
Gary Parker, Summer 2011
I teach swimming and swim most days either in the pool or open water but it can be hard pushing yourself when swimming alone. I love the motivation that comes with swimming with other swimmers of the same level and really appreciate Fiona’s knowledge in being able to pick up faults and other suggestions for correction.
Ian Tabor, Summer 2011
Just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed the swim training over the past few months. I don’t think I had swum more than 400m continuously before this January and the last time I swam in a race was 25 years ago! I’ve learnt a huge amount in a short space of time and always look forward to Wednesday evenings (well, almost always…). So thanks for your input and patience and see you next month!
Matt Dawson, Autumn 2010
Over the past 6 months I have had a number of pointers from Fi which have led to some pretty impressive improvements in my swim times. I have knocked nearly 10 seconds off my average pace per 100m which translated to a 5 minute reduction in my swim time over 3.6km this Summer. The great thing is that I know there is much more that I can do, with Fi’s help, to make me go even faster still!
Matt has since trained on to complete his long term goal of a solo English Channel crossing in Summer 2013
Richard Jones, Spring 2010
I thought I’d let you know that I did my first one mile continuous swim in just over 35 minutes. Considering I struggled to complete 100m before I started your sessions, I’m chuffed with that. Thanks for your help!