Author Archive

Welcome to BareFish!


We are excited to announce a new concept in swim coaching!

BareFish will be launched on 1st July as the culmination of 6 years of research into helping people to unlock their best swimming.

As a pre-launch special offer we are giving free online coaching throughout the month of June. Click here to sign up to our mailing list and we will send you more information!

You can also find us on FaceBook

Protected: Free Online Coaching during June 2011


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How can I learn better swimming?


Do you remember being a kid?

I do , I am riding my BMX for the first time without training wheels. Until now it was safe, the bike always kicked back when I tried to tilt over to far, the training wheels bent at ninety degrees proof as my dad removed them. No matter what dad told me, drew pictures of, even demonstrating how to ride the bike the only way I was going to be able to learn was to try it myself and see what happened. The time was now, “pedal, pedal, pedal” he encouraged as he pushed me along then releasing the seat. The wind in my face, the cracks in the footpath whizzing by, the wobble of the seat the shaky handlebars, ahhh crash. That happened a few times, next time I would do something different. How many attempts it took I really don’t remember but I got it. I was riding like the big kids were, two wheeled, footloose and free.

Swimming is the same, no matter what you see being done, what you read, what someone tells to do, unless you get in and try it for yourself you can’t really know how it feels. It’s funny and sad that as we become adults that through schooling, conforming to rules and standards, becoming more intellectual we forget the child within. Looking back at being a kid the most learning happened in the first 10 years of life.  As babies shoving things into your mouth to relate to objects. Toddlers touching hot stoves to see what happens, as 5 year olds climbing tables, trees, benches anything.  There was no questions or contemplations, we learnt by doing, trying, experimenting.

As an adult when we try something new we want to know what is going to happen, how do we do it perfectly the first time, why we do it this way or that and how will I look while I do it? I am fully aware of the different ways people learn, kinesthetically, visually, verbally and so on. The biggest breakthroughs in a person swimming that I witness when coaching is when that person feels safe to revisit that child. What does that mean?  When the environment supports you being in your body, in the sensations, in the feelings.

I can tell you to get more streamlined when swimming, that you need to hang your head or your hand, even demonstrate what I want to see. Until you play with these things yourself and feel how it makes you slip through the water instead of dragging through it, you will never experience how good being streamlined can feel.

I get one swimmer ask me why are we doing this, what degrees do I hang my hand, can you show me again what you mean?   In the meantime another swimmer is trying it, feeling it, experimenting with it, being it. By the end of the session that swimmer has realized a big breakthrough it what being streamlined feels like and translates to in their swimming. The original swimmer is still working it out, sure they’re in the water but they are also outside their body and in their head. wondering why they  haven’t had the same “light bulb” moment.

Similar to learning to ride my BMX, I didn’t get it right the first time, or second, I did keep trying, kept experimenting and I got it. Those crashes didn’t always give me the perfect result, but they weren’t a waste. In fact they taught me what I was doing well and what I needed to change so I wouldn’t crash next time.  So when I got it I knew why, I knew how, I felt what perfect was, I didn’t need to ask.

I invite you next time before you next jump into the pool to visualize a similar experience from your childhood. Hope in the pool as that kid and experiment with your swimming. You just might be surprised what your learn.

Article by Bare Fish swimming coach Ben Wearing

Your First Triathlon


Are you thinking about taking part in a triathlon but put off by the swim leg?

If so, you are not alone!

Every week I hear from people who are frustrated by swim leg. Cycling 20 km and running 5 km are 100% achievable but surviving 400 m in the ocean seems like an impossibility.

“I know I’m fit from my riding and running but when I swim I get exhausted after 50 meters and have to stop to get my breath back. I don’t understand why it feels so difficult. I’m annoyed because the 12 year old girl in the next lane makes it look effortless as she glides past… Can you help?”

Well the answer is YES!

If you have experienced frustration and a part of you knows that there must be a better way then you are ready to take your next step.

This article will help you to understand WHY your swimming feels like a struggle and show you WHAT you need to do to build your skill and confidence in the water. You can also leave a comment below to say HOW you are going…

The reasons why you get exhausted so quickly…

On a bicycle your legs apply power to turn the cranks, the chain turns the rear wheel and you go forwards. To go faster you turn your legs faster or use a higher gear to supply more power. There is a direct relationship between power and speed. More power means more speed!

Swimming is not the same. Sometimes the most ‘powerful’ swimmers waste 90% of their energy thrashing and splashing their way through the pool. The most skilful swimmers apply their effort more deliberately and make it look easy. Less bubbles, less noise, more glide and more forward speed.

You don’t have to be an Olympic swimming coach to see and hear the difference.

Reason 1: Arm speed is not the same as speed through the water. Slow Down so you can feel what is going on!

Most people can walk a long way. You might only have time for 30 minutes along the beach or you might get hungry after 4 hours of bush walking but you certainly don’t get exhausted after 2 minutes! So what is so different?

Unless you spent your childhood in and around the water chances are you aren’t as comfortable in the water as you are on land. Water is an enigma to your body. Water is a dense medium so resists your forward movement but it slips through your fingers as you pull back so it is hard to generate propulsion. In our walking analogy it would be like walking up a muddy hill in bare feet! Physically not so easy…

As a human being you also have thoughts and feelings. You may not be aware of them but you still have them! If you had a traumatic experience with water or learning to swim as a child this may be more obvious but the truth is that all of us have an important safety mechanism which is there to prevent us from drowning. Water is dangerous. As you lose contact with the ground your unconscious mind switches into survival mode. You might feel tension in your body or you might feel outright panic set it. Unless you super relaxed and love the sensations of being super relaxed then you are probably somewhere in between those two extremes. ‘Fright or Flight’ mode is activated a lot or a little. You feel like you need to keep your head above water, you work hard to counteract the sensation of sinking and swim faster to ‘get to the other end’. Phew! Made it! Is it still a mystery why you feel spent after a single length? In our walking analogy this would be like trying to outsprint a pack of hungry wolves!

Reason 2: You are fighting the water. Take away the hill & stop running from the wolves. Stop Fighting!

… and besides, there is a lot of water in the ocean so you are unlikely to win anyway! Save your energy for moving forwards.

Your first step is to learn how to be more relaxed in the water. What you need to do is to build a better relationship with the water so you can develop the skills you need to be a more effective swimmer.

DO try this at home…

Here are some simple steps you can take right away.

1. Allocate some regular time to work on your swimming. 3 x 30min sessions per week is a great starting point for learning new skills. Schedule them into your diary to strengthen your commitment.

2. Embrace the challenge. You may feel nervous or frustrated. That is fine. It is just a sign that you are working on something that challenges you. There is no such thing as ‘getting it wrong’ and you are either working on your swimming regularly or not. Your Choice!

3. Keep track of your progress by writing in a journal or note book each week. This will help you to see your improvements when you look back.

4. Start to feel what is happening in your stroke. Are your arms moving too fast? Where is your energy going? Are you fighting the water? Can you feel how your body moves through the water? What does it sound like?

5. Try something a bit different. There are plenty of different swimming drills that will change the way you swim. Can you feel a difference after the drill? A favourite of ours is ‘Jellyfish’. Breathe in and float in the water. Allow your arms and legs to dangle down like the tentacles of a jellyfish. Let your head hang heavy and nod it to check that your neck muscles are relaxed. If you are in the ocean then allow the swell to move your limbs around. Feel the support of the water. Don’t resist anything. Allow yourself to sink as you exhale if you do. If you don’t then that is fine too!

6. After any drill go back to your swimming and see what difference you notice. Are you more relaxed? Can you feel the support of the water? Are you flowing more easily in your stroke? Are you less out of breath?

7. Let me know how you are doing. What differences do you notice in your swimming? Do these ideas make sense? Leave a comment to say how you are going and ask any questions.

In the meantime swim well and live well.


PS The next article in the series will teach you how to get balanced in the water. You will learn how to glide further and lengthen your stroke.

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Body + Soul


Here is the article from 5th September in case you missed it!

(click to enlarge)

What Makes Great Swimming?


Do you ever get overwhelmed by different bits of advice for your swimming? Your squad coach gives you 3 pointers for ‘stroke correction’, your run training partner has his own suggestions and that is just the start! Head online and there are literally thousands of different techniques, drills and exercises to choose from…

Just listening to all the information can leave you confused!

Total Immersion provides a logical, systematic approach to developing swimming skills. There are lots of details and they all have a precise place in the learning progression. This pyramid is a simple overview:

Why a Pyramid?

Each level builds on the previous one. Its hard to glide through the water if you feel like you are about to sink. You can’t have rhythm and flow without propulsion! The wider each layer of the pyramid the easier it is to build the next layer.

What is ‘0. Relationship With The Water’?

Are you working with the water or are you fighting it? Does your effort help you to go forward or are you wasting energy creating bubbles, splash and noise? Is your stroke relaxed? Do you go faster when you work harder? Does your ‘easy pace’ feel easy?

Concentrate on feeling the support of the water. 99% of people are naturally buoyant with some air in their lungs. Enjoy this sensation!

Is it possible to glide too much? (level 1)

Yes absolutely. Some coaches teach a long, gliding stroke. Others teach a short, choppy stroke. Instead of thinking ‘Should I glide or not?’ start to feel ‘how much glide’ is optimal for your speed and effort. In a 50m sprint there isn’t a lot of gliding. At longer distances you see a lot more glide. If you don’t have the skill you have no choices. Learn to glide at cruising pace then modify as your effort increases. Optimize time, effort and stroke count by measuring them. Eventually you will learn to feel exactly how much to glide.

What about the ‘pull through’? Its not in the pyramid?

Its part of level 2 which is all about propulsion. Most swimmers are taught the ‘kick’ and ‘pull’ as two separate actions which often results in poor core engagement, lack of coordination and a loss of forward propulsion.  Work with your whole body and you can engage the whole kinetic chain including your lats and core to connect from fingertip all the way through to core!  Instead of ‘pushing water backwards’ aim to swim your body forwards past your hand with power from your hips.

How about ‘high elbow recovery’? Is that a good idea?

Good question! The recovery fits into level 3. The arm that is out of the water is in the ‘recovery phase’ so the most important thing is to switch off most of the muscles while its moving forward. Meantime the other arm is in the ‘glide phase’ so you don’t want to rush the recovery. When your forearm is relaxed you certainly will have a ‘high elbow’! It should feel like a loose, relaxed flowing movement. If you feel tense or get shoulder pain then you aren’t switching off enough muscles…

Is this the only model for swimming skills? Is it perfect?

Of course not! No model is perfect and most ideas have limitation. A better question is whether it is useful! At TI Australia we use the pyramid to help people to understand what they feel, hear and see in their swimming and to identify key areas for improve. Effective propulsion (level 2) is really important but it won’t help you much if your legs are hanging down at 45 degrees. That is why learning to balance (level 1) comes first.

Do I have to be perfect at each level before I move on to the next?

No no no. Don’t fall into the ‘perfectionism trap’!

Once you have done some work on each level then move onto the next so you end up with a full range of skills. Just remember to keep on going back to basics until you are feeling relaxed, balanced, powerful and flowing! Remember that the wider the base of your ‘pyramid’ the higher and better you can build it.

Can you help me to learn using this system?

Yes abslolutely.

Our Demo Course will give you a taste of the first 3 levels and some powerful tools to start to bring them into your stroke.

The Fishlike Freestyle Workshop teaches all 5 levels of the pyramid.

Click on the names of the courses for more information and course schedule.

Outwit That Dog!!!


“From what you say it sounds like you can run for at least an hour quite easily…”

Sue can run 10km quite comfortably in under 50 minutes and can’t understand why she gets so out of breath that she has to stop after 100m in the pool. She and she has called me to see if I can shed any light on her predicament. The good news for Sue is that she isn’t alone and hearing this seems to reassure her… Once I have found out a bit more about her swimming I begin my explanation of how swimming can become sustainable and eventually feel ‘like taking a walk in the park‘.

“… and I’m betting that you could keep going all day if you slowed your pace to a walk…”

While Sue begins to take herself for a leisurely stroll in her mind’s eye it

Easy Freestyle DVD – Prize Winners


Congratulations to our prize winners who each won a copy of our Easy Freestyle DVD. I’m on my way to the Post Office with a sackful of goodies!

There were 10 DVDs up for grabs and we had 11 entries. I didn’t have the heart to choose so I decided to throw in another DVD so no-one has to miss out.


  • Giridhaar Guruparan of Homebush, NSW
  • Robyn Young of Charlestown, NSW
  • Mark Dawson of Dulwich, SA
  • Anita Lindemann of Bunbury, WA
  • Dennis Fenn of Quindalup, WA
  • Susan Thomas of Mt Helena, WA
  • Bronwyn Winchester of Southbridge, NZ
  • Gary Peters of Wellington, NZ
  • Jess Ross of Nelson, NZ
  • Mike Gillming of Hikurangi, NZ
  • Marty Parker of Wellington, NZ

I hope that you all enjoy watching the DVD and learning Fishlike Freestyle!

If you missed out on this competition click here to sign up to our newsletter for future promotions!

What Can You Do For Free?


… well quite a lot as it turns out! Here are some good ones for starters. Mostly Sydney / Northern Beaches.

Are there free sessions in other places that people should know about? I’d love you to share by leaving a comment below.

What’s on Offer?

What? Ocean Swimming with the Bold & Beautiful
Where? Manly SLSC to Shelley and back
When? 6:45 for a 7am start, every day
Who? email Julie Isbill or 0438 36 34 52
How? Be sure to register with Julie when you arrive

What? Cycling & Running Sessions with Karmea Fitness
Where? Northern Beaches, starting in Manly
When? 7am Sunday & 7pm Thursday
Who? email TI coach Sarah Anne Evans or 0420 923 067
How? By arrangement with Sarah Anne

What? Yoga & Pilates c/o Lululemon Athletica
Where? In store at Warrhingah Mall
When? 6:30pm Tuesday & 9am Sunday
Who? Special Guest Sol Walkling on Tuesdays in August
How? Just turn up! Bring a mat if you have one.

What? Massage with TI coach Ben Wearing
Where? Balgowlah & surrounding suburbs
When? Evenings / Saturdays by arrangement
Who? email Ben to arrange a time
How? Trainee Masseur

What? Outdoor Fitness Training with Primal Fit
Where? Balmoral, Domain, Rose Bay & Others
When? Mostly mornings & lunchtimes
Who? Contact Alex Shirley via website
How? Trial Session is Free

What? Coaching with Positive Impact Consulting
Where? Your home (by phone or audio CD)
When? By arrangement
Who? Contact Amber Kay via website
How? Free coaching session, CD & great newsletter

What? Monthly Meetup for The Work of Byron Katie
Where? Sydney – members take it in turns to host
When? Saturdays from 10am to 3pm
Who? People who want to question stressful beliefs
How? Sign up for updates and information here

What? The Kindness Revolution
Where? Wherever you are!
When? Today!
Who? If YOU want to…
How? Random Acts of Kindness

There is some good stuff out there, as you can see! I have personally tried all of these services and recommend them highly. I’m hoping that at least one of them will be of interest to you.

Just to make it 100% clear it really is ok to just do the free sessions and you don’t have to ‘upgrade’ or become ‘a customer’ unless of course you enjoy it so much that you want more. Its always a risk! Most of them you can go back as many times as you like for free. Some of them not. It IS ok to make a living doing something that helps people, isn’t it?
But why do all these people bother to give their precious time and energy for no $$$ reward? I can tell you they are all jolly nice people who genuinely want to help others but I think there is more to it that that. The missing question…

… Why?

4 reasons that people offer things ‘for free’:

  • Feels great to ‘pay it forward’. Sweet…
  • Good fun to be part of a tribe – especially for the leader!
  • Perfect opportunity to develop skills & build confidence.
  • A great way to showcase services & put ‘it’ out there.

I’m sure you can have a good guess at which of these apply for each of the examples above.

What About Me?

OK its your turn! I’m inspired by all the generosity and I’d like to give away some TI goodies.

Our 2 Hour Demo is great value at $25. It is an outstanding course for anyone who is ready to rethink the way they swim. Give us 2 hours and we can help you to make some big changes in your stroke.

You can check out dates and sign up here:

Brisbane Demo

Melbourne Demo

Sydney Demo

Each month we give away 4 free tickets in each location. They sell out quickly.

If you want to be the first to know when we release new course dates you can sign up for our mailing list. If you tell us where you are and how often you’d like to hear from us we can send you the right information at the right time.

Once you are on our mailing list we will send you will get to know about our courses before anyone else. We will also send you details of our special offers and prize giveaways. Not to mention interesting articles about swimming and other stuff. Here is that link again in case you missed it…