Technique

Meet the coach

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Having trained the best and himself competed as a professional, Speedo swim coach Dan Bullock is among the UK’s premier swimming teachers. Now he’s here to guide our challengers, and you, toward victory.

Tell us about yourself, Dan…
For a decade, I’ve been a professional, full-time swim coach, working with Speedo for the last four years. I trialled for Olympic level in the ‘90s, but later moved into the sport of triathlon. This has given me a rounded view of swimming in and of itself, plus how using the pool can be beneficial to other disciplines.

What are some challenges new swimmers face?
It’s probably the most counterintuitive sport there is: where on dry land, the harder you push your limbs, the faster you move, in water you need to slow down, to relax. Plus you have a small window in which to utilise your breathing. Then there’s the demanding coordination. In short: there are a lot of factors you need to consider, all while trying to stay calm.

OK, so what about the benefits?
The lungs are worked hard, with the breath-holding and timing techniques. Plus it places demands on your upper and lower body in tandem, increasing your range of movement and boosting your strength-endurance [how long you can exert force with your muscles]. Swimmers tend to develop defined, broad and strong shoulders quickly, plus it sculpts your triceps and lower body. It carries over to other disciplines, too: you can’t cycle or run without a healthy set of lungs, and swimming gives you that. The health benefits are many, also: active recovery is great in the pool, and it’s the perfect way to recover from injuries.

What’s your best tip for new starters?
You either need a coach to watch you, or to film yourself. Form is essential; it’s not a discipline you can just pick up. Without a view of what you’re doing, where you’re going wrong, you’ll never progress. Rope in a friend with a camera phone, or find a local swim club with pro coaches. Oh, and slow down your stroke; it sounds nonsensical, but you’ll move faster.

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