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SwimTrek Coaching

SwimTrek Coaching Philosophy

All of our coaching is focused on getting the most out of your stroke in an open water environment.

SwimTrek coaches use a combination of theory and practical sessions to help you understand what you should be doing and why you should be doing it. We help you close the gap between your current swim stroke and the perfect swim stroke. Our coaches are experienced open water swimmers and have the knowledge required to teach you the latest techniques and develop suitable training plans to help you reach your open water swimming goals.

Whether you're preparing for an upcoming SwimTrek holiday or an open water swimming event anywhere in the world, a coaching session with one of our qualified swim guides is the perfect way to develop your open water swimming skills.

SwimTrek Training Plan

SwimTrek's Open Water Swimming Training Plan has been put together to try to give you a basic introduction to swimming in open water. Whether you are a novice swimmer who would like the confidence to take a dip outdoors, or a competent pool swimmer preparing for your first open water swim, or even someone who has already experienced the thrill of open water and are keen to improve your skills, we're sure that there is information in this plan that you will find useful.

You can view and download a digital version of our open water swimming training plan here and you can click here to get Adobe PDF Reader.

SwimTrek's Guide to Open Water Swimming Technique

We’ve put together the following 8 pointers as a quick guide to help you on your way to becoming a more efficient open water swimmer and to make the most of your open water experience!



As well as a technique point in open water, sighting is also an important safety issue. How often to sight is a balancing act between the delay in going off course and the reduction in speed caused by lifting of your head. Effective sighting incorporates the head movement in to the natural rhythm of your stroke

Common Fault: Don’t try and breathe when you lift your head up to sight, as this will cause you to lift your head up high thus causing your lower body to sink. It’s much better to sight with your eyes just above the water and then to breathe to the side as normal.


Weightless Head

As well as a key technique point in open water, sighting is also an important safety issue. How often to sight is a balancing act between the delay in going off course and the reduction in speed caused by lifting of your head. Effective sighting incorporates the head movement into the natural rhythm of your stroke.

Common Fault: Look forward as if you are focusing on the end of the pool lane. As well as causing the legs to drop, this can lead to neck injuries especially in choppy conditions. Looking straight down or at most ½ metre in front of you will assist your legs in keeping horizontal.


Inhale (Breathing)

Bilateral breathing is often perceived as the be all and end all of an effective breathing technique. Whilst it is undoubtedly good in keeping your stroke symmetrical and should be honed by all prospective long distance swimmers, for open water you also need to ensure that you can breathe to just the one side if chop/waves are hitting you from just one direction.

Common Fault: Often swimmers will be seen breathing every 3 or even 5 strokes and struggling for breath or being unable to improve their swim times. It’s important to remember that oxygen is your greatest and first source of energy. Increasing the frequency of breathing (i.e moving from 5 strokes/breath to 3 strokes/breath or 3 to 2 strokes/breath can dramatically improve performance.


Momentum (Gliding)

Keeping momentum during your swim is essential. In calm conditions, a nice elongated stroke with an effective glide at the end of each stroke is ideal. However it’s imperative to note that in choppier conditions where the swimmer is being pitched around more, achieving any sort of momentum is tricky and in fact an elongated stroke can be counterproductive as you may find yourself being pushed side to side or even backwards. In these situations a shorter and faster stroke can be used.

Common Fault: If the wind and swell is coming from behind you, even though conditions may be rough a glide may still be beneficial as you are being pushed in the right direction. It’s only when the conditions are either coming at you or to your side that you will need to revert to this punchier stroke.



As previously mentioned it’s essential to keep your stroke symmetrical to maintain a straighter course and also to avoid injuries. Hence both sides of your body need to work in tandem with the other. Bilateral breathing will help us but also having somebody look at your stroke or even better somebody videoing your stroke to ensure that both sides of your body are doing the same thing!

Common Fault: The most common type of lopsided stroke is during the propulsive phase. If the direction and angle or both arms is not the same you will get an uneven stroke and hence a journey going from side to side rather than in a straight line.



Effective body roll is essential for a good open water technique. It’s essential that the roll is powered from the hips and not the chest as this ensures that the whole body rolls in unison for maximum efficiency. Also the amount of Roll should be to the same angle on both sides. The benefits of rolling compared to lying flat in the water are:

  1. The bigger back muscles are used rather than the smaller shoulder muscles when swimming flat.
  2. You offer less resistance in the water as instead of a head and 2 shoulders causing drag when rolling effectively only 1 head and 1 shoulder is creating resistance.
  3. In choppy conditions rolling allows you to breathe above the chop.
  4. Allows an easier arm recovery and hence less rotator cuff injuries.

Common Fault: Don’t try and breathe when you lift your head up to sight, as this will cause you to lift your head up high thus causing your lower body to sink. It’s much better to sight with your eyes just above the water and then to breathe to the side as normal



In flat conditions your hand should enter the water somewhere between your ear and the inside of your shoulder. This will allow you to maintain a decent roll. In rough conditions you may find yourself being pitched from side to side and hence rolling excessively! Widening the point where the hand enters the water to be in line with your shoulders or even further out acts like stabilisers and thus gives you greater stability in the water.

Common Fault: For many swimmers when the hand enters the water and the arm fully extends, they let their hand sink well below the surface. When they start to bring their hand back at the start of the propulsive phase they then have to fight against gravity to pull the arm backwards. It’s much better initially to extend the hand higher up, to just below the surface, thus using gravity to your advantage.



In freestyle swimming only between 5-15% propulsion is generated by the legs, because of this and especially for open water swimming where distances are generally longer, it’s more efficient to focus your energy into your upper body. It is essential that you kick your legs enough to keep them on the surface as letting them drag behind you can be like dragging a parachute behind.

Common Fault: During the kick, while a little knee bend will happen the kick should be powered from the hips. Too often we see swimmers who kick from the knees thus causing their legs to sing straight down in the water a simple change of technique can have significant consequences to the stroke.

Brighton - Swim Coaching and Open Water Fitness Sessions With SeaLanes

Are you looking for some open water coaching before your upcoming trip? Would you like to become more confident in the open water? Our open water swimming coaching sessions in Brighton could be perfect for you!

London - Swim Coaching and Open Water Fitness Sessions


We have private coaching and open water fitness sessions at the Tooting Bec Lido, London, with SwimTrek coach and guide, Dan Abel.

Dan's successful swimming career spans over 20 years, including national titles and four years in the USA at the University of Iowa, where he graduated with a BSc and academic accolades. Dan has also successfully coached and completed the epic relay swim across the famous English Channel, swimming 17km. The team raised over £9,000 for UK charities.

After a career with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Dan has forged ahead in coaching swimming and general fitness and transferred his pool swimming skills to the open water.

As a guide for SwimTrek in 2011, Dan is now the resident SwimTrek Coach at Tooting Bec Lido.

Open Water Fitness and Technique Series

Swimming fitness is for swimmers or triathletes looking to improve. We will give you a structured swimming coaching programme that delivers fitness and technique in a fun and social atmosphere. One hour sessions are available three mornings per week and Saturday morning. You can expect to increase fitness, improve swimming technique and learn more about open water swimming. This is a great session to complement the one-to-one coaching.


Sessions are suitable for anyone aged 16 years or older looking to improve or maintain their swimming fitness level. Swimmers should be able to comfortably swim 1km in a pool.


Any enquiries about coaching sessions at Tooting Bec Lido can be directed to Dan at:

Private Coaching

Private one-to-one open water swimming lessons for swimmers and triathletes of all ability levels. If you wish to learn front crawl (freestyle), improve your technique, efficiency or swim speed our one-to-one swim coaching program will provide personalised coaching and swimming lessons tailored to your specific requirements. At beginner level, you can go at your own pace to make sure you feel safe and confident in the water. At intermediate and advanced level, you can progress your stroke, understand and develop more swimming technique and receive guidance on the right swim fitness programme for you. Lessons are individually tailored and can include:

  • Swimming Technique
  • Swimming Drills
  • Swimming Fitness
  • Swimming Technique Analysis

Whether you are looking to improve your stroke or getting ready for your first race or a SwimTrek holiday, you can get advice on the do’s and don’ts of open water swimming.


These session are suitable for swimmers who are 16 years and over. Please note that the water is heated by the summer sun only, so this is the perfect preparation for any upcoming open water swimming events.


Please note, availability for 2020 is to be confirmed.

Private lessons are available every weekday and Saturday mornings. All sessions are 40 minutes in length, with the exception of the last session each morning which can be either 40 or 60 minutes.

To swim outside these times (or during other times of the year), you can join the fantastic South London Swim Club:


Tooting Bec Lido ‘London’s Premier Open Water Swimming Training venue. View Map Here

Terms and Conditions

Any booked session cancelled more than 24 hours prior to the session will be rescheduled at no cost. Cancellations within 24 hours of the scheduled time will not be rescheduled or refunded. Please respect this policy as the business is run on appointment only, if you cancel late, it is often too late to rebook your slot. This policy also runs in reverse, should Fit&Abel Ltd cancel within 24 hours of your session, you can expect a complimentary session.

If you have any other questions about our open water coaching sessions, please feel free to contact us and we'll be more than happy to assist.