Smart Swimming - Swim Better, Live Better
Swimming well doesn't just happen. We provide tools & support to help you swim efficiently, gracefully and fast.
Whatever your reasons for swimming - be it stamina, fitness, speed, well-being - your enjoyment and overall fulfilment will be far greater if you focus on improving movement skills instead of counting miles and calories burnt.
"I’ve swum mostly for the sheer pleasure of it. If it’s not fun, why do it? . . . What I want most is to feel engaged in body, mind, spirit — that there’s nothing I’d rather be doing — and to leave the pool counting the hours until I can swim again. "
Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion
I believe in three pillars:
No more treading water
Swimming is not only an essential life skill but also a way to be active physically and mentally. I found swimming Flow inducing. Flow is that beautiful state in which you are fully immersed in an activity. You are fully focused, involved, and feel deep enjoyment and satisfaction.
My goal is to help people to experience flow states in every swimming session and continuously improve their skills, abilities and proficiency through intelligent, satisfying and efficient practice.
Notice that I did not write workout, but practice. I believe in focused, deep, deliberate practice similar to yoga or martial art practice.
I can promise the following:
- You will feel refreshed and energized after every swim
- You are proud of your stroke
- You know you can achieve even the most courageous swimming goal
- Your swimming improves year by year
- Swimming will become the best part of your day
No more treading water
Good swimming is a skill that is completely against our instincts.
But usually we follow our instincts and traditional teaching just follows. You are told everything about pulling and kicking. This kind of advice will not make you a better swimmer.
Such swimming advice is about making you better at treading water. You work pretty hard but you’re not going anywhere.
To swim well, we need to do practically everything the other way around than our instincts tell us - to lie down on the water, relax, submerge our head, calm our arm and leg movements.
Many swimmers and coaches are unaware of the absolutely crucial fact:
We swim in and through the water
Yes, I mean it. I understand that it is clear to everyone that swimming takes place in water. But water is very different from the air we are constantly moving in and through:
- Water is about 900 times denser than air. When we move through it, it creates a lot of resistance (drag).
- We can't lean on water. Although it is so dense, it is not solid enough for us to lean on (such as the ground).
- We cannot breathe in water. Life-giving air is above the surface and must be reached in time.
All this causes uncertainty and sometimes panic. That's why I always first focus on making swimmers feel safe and comfortable in the water. To gradually learn to relax and find out how their body behaves naturally in water. To experience lightness and buoyancy in the water. Some of them for the very first time, even though they have been swimming for years.
Comfort and confidence in the water is the foundation which my entire swimming education system is built on. Skills that are easy to master and that will completely change your swimming.
Since water is so dense, drag (water resistance) is very limiting factor. Fish and aquatic mammals have perfect htdrodynamic position. We, humans, have to learn this skill.
We minimize drag by acquiring streamlined body posture. That means shaping yourself into horizontal and hydrodynamic position. If you don't know what I mean, think of bullet trains, submarines, airplanes. Extend your head, limbs, and torso into a long, sleek bodyshape.
Your shape changes during stroking and breathing, that is natural. Strive to stay in this shape as much as possible. What also helps to hold proper body posture is to be silent. Don’t create waves, minimize splash, bubbles, turbulence, and churning.
After (and only after) you are comfortable in the water and know ho to be horizontal and hydrodynamic, focus on propulsion. Maybe surprisingly, it is not your arms and legs that propels you forward but your core.
In traditional teaching, the arms and legs do all the work, while the torso is dragged along. We do just the oposite - start in the center and use weight shifts in the hips to create an impuls to propel you forward.
If you master this skill, you can efficiently use your core, your powerhouse. The term powerhouse comes from Pilates and refers to a group of muscles; abdominals (upper an lower), lower back, buttocks and the hip. According to Joseph Pilates, the powerhouse is the centre of the body and when strengthened it offers a solid foundation for any movement. That's exactly what we want to do while swimming. The arms and legs are extentions from this powerhouse.
Seek Continuous Improvement
Did you know that the average swimmer uses only 3% of his energy to move forward?
This means that there is a huge room for improvement. So my goal in every pool session is to improve my swimming – not to complete a certain number of meters or raise your heart rate or any of the traditional goals. I suggest you have
Before each swimming practice, take a moment and think what you can improve. Choose how you can achieve it, and how you’ll know that you improved. Afterward, review your swimming, what you have learned, and how you feel.
This path will be of continuous improvement. But you will enjoy your swimming more than ever. You wiil find deep satisfaction, purpose and fulfilment.
Know that you can improve
Most adult swimmers gave up on improvement of their swimming. They swim for year but the struggle, dissatisfaction and frustration remains the same. They have resigned to follow the black line. It is boring but at least it is good for their health.
But we can do better. With focused, deliberate practice, we can master the complex art of swimming.
The key is to be curious about how good swimming works. This complex, compound, challenging, counterintuitive, exacting skill. In other words, know why, not only what.
However, it is not about perfection. It’s about the process, about lifelong learning, about persevering.
While reading this page, you might checked your email inbox, answered a couple of instant messages, commented on friend's post, liked this beautiful kittens playing with each other followed by 8 ways you totally know you are a coffee addict.
This is how we live: one constant, never-ending stream of bite-sized, meaningless content that you are not really interested in, but for some reason it is impossible not to pay attention to. We loose our ability to focus, concentrate, deep work.
That's why I love water - it offers a unique opportunity: distractionless environment. As soon as I plunge into water and submerge my head, I am just with myself. I can feel my body, listen to my breathing and go with the rhytm of the swim.
Whatever happens in my life, however turbulant it can be, I find balance, peace and connection with my center in water. For me, the swimming is the essence of calm, meditation and relaxation.
How to enter meditative state
- Attention to your body and breathing. It is the simplest way, because a meditation is being in the present and the body cannot be percieved other than here and now. Being aware of your body might be easier in the water, because the water is much denser than air. You can feel it on your skin and you can feel the resistance when you swim through. We are being given so much sensation to tune into. Make the best of it!
- Do one thing well. Swimming is a very complex and challenging skill and it is easy to get overwhelmed with so many things that need to be done right. To prevent that, focus on only one thing at a time and gradually build all your skills you need to swim well.
- Practice for the sake of the practice, not for the result. We usually practice to improve something - your piano, your computer skills, your writing. We want to get ahead, learn a skill, make money. Of course, this is improtant. But what I found the most rewarding is to swim for the sake of swimming. The people we consider as masters just don't want to be better. They love to practice. And because of this, they get better.
- Beginner’s mind. Do you know what it’s like when little kids learn about something? They are overflowing with questions. They are open, eager and curious. They are like a sponge, soaking up huge amounts of information, knowledge or skill. We lose touch with the qualities of mind and I suggest to cultivate it. To approach every swimming with an attitude of openness, eagerness, and with an open mind. It is a very powerful way to enjoy what you do and to learn effortlessly.
- Finisher’s mind. Just imagine that it is the very last time you have the opportunity to swim. How would you approach it? What would you do? I guess you would be deeply engaged, fully focused and tuned in. The truth is, we never know our last time so don't waste it.
- The best swimming does not hurt. I've experience many swims. The best ones never hurt. I just felt as if everything was in harmony and in sync. I felt energized, fully engaged, effortless and in control. And that’s how all the great swimmers —including the Olympics swimmers—recall their best swims. The best swims always feel like flow states. As I realized that, my aim has been to seek flow states rather than pushing through the pain. And more I’ve been doing that I’ve kept improving and enjoyed every stroke.
If you are lucky to have ideal swimming conditions, it might be incredible experience. Look at a short video from a swimming workshop in Turkey.
Life Skills, Not Just Swimming
As you can see, it is not only about training your body, but maybe even more about training your brain. You train your focus, long term engagement, consistency.
You can develop mindfulness. Since good swimming is so counterintuitive, we have to be mindful and attentive. Otherwise we struggle and waste too much enegry.
If you approach your swim training as a problem-solving exercise (solving efficiency, timing, coordination, streamlining), you’ll learn skills and build habits you can apply to anything in life.
If you want to learn more about how to swim smart and be smart in the water and out, you're in the right place, here on Smart Swimming.
I am Tomáš, your Instructor
- Swim coach since 2004
- Founder of Smart Swimming and Totální plavání
- Taught more than 4,000 swimmers
- Led 500+ swimming workshops and clinics
- Author of several instructional videos, ebooks and more than 160 articles
I have been a swim coach since 2004. I live in the Czech Republic.
Triathlon brought me to swimming. When I first discovered triathlon in 1996, I fell in love with the sport.
But swimming had always been a struggle and frustration. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get any better.
So I began my journey by learning how to move through water efficiently and gracefully. I have practiced yoga and tai chi, the Alexander technique, Natural Movement on dry land. In water it was the Art of Swimming.
But the greatest difference came with Total Immersion and for several years I had been a certified TI coach. Now I work on my own. I founded and developed the instruction and content for Totální plavání and Smart Swimming.
I worked with more than 4000 clients, led 500+ workshops and clinics and am the author of several instructional videos, ebooks and more than 160 articles (in the Czech language).
"Tomáš helped me to swim my first 1km freestyle. When I met him a couple of months ago, I was not able to complete one length of the pool. Gradually I build my technique to effortlessly enjoy 40 lengths. Now I really can say: I love swimming."
- Hana Poláčková, 62 years young