Swimathon 2015: Lessons from a legend

It’s not every day you get the chance to have a swimming lesson from an Olympic gold medalist. So imagine how thrilled my fellow ‘Blog Squadders’ and I were last Wednesday when we were given that opportunity from Swimathon President Duncan Goodhew.

Ben Wicks, Media and PR Manager


The venue was Pancras Leisure Centre in Kings Cross and I arrived feeling both very excited and a little apprehensive about being taught by a British Swimming legend. My apprehensiveness was gone the moment I met Duncan. He instantly made me and everyone else feel at ease. He'd even brought his medal along and we all had the chance to take a look. We all got in the pool and it was straight to work. Three out of the four of us there are doing our challenge in freestyle, so Duncan wasted no time in getting us to work, helping to hone our stroke. Some of the tips he gave are already helping me with my training so I’ll try to share some of the knowledge he gave to me. We covered three main things: arm placement, bringing your arm out of the water and finishing your stroke.

Tip one: arm placement

The most helpful piece of advice Duncan provided was to ensure I was stretching my arm when putting it in the water. It’s a tough skill to describe, but imagine when your arm is in the water, the key is to then move your shoulder forward to increase your reach, which means when you pull your arm back you’re using more muscles and generate more power. I noticed the difference straight away, but be warned, I could really feel the strain down my side the next morning!

Tip two: maximising your arms out of the water

When I was young I was always told to get my elbow as high as possible when it’s lifted out of the water. I always found this skill slightly unnatural but Duncan mentioned that if you roll from your shoulders then this naturally happens. Not only does this feel more natural, it also gave me more time to breath in between strokes.

Tip three: finishing the stroke

Duncan’s final tip, although it sounds small and perhaps obvious, is to ensure you finish your stroke. The best way I can describe this is how Duncan explained it to us. He said to simply think about throwing a ball at the end of your stroke. This means that as you pull down you continue the momentum of your hands and keep pushing until your arm leaves the water. I was extremely grateful for Duncan’s help and I can already feel the benefits of his lesson. I’m feeling more tired because changing your swimming technique isn’t easy, but I still have five weeks to go so I’m confident I’ll be ready and raring to go by then. If you’re enjoying reading my blog then please do donate below.

Ben Wicks Media & PR Manager Ben Wicks, one of Marie Curie’s Media & PR Managers, is taking on the world’s biggest fundraising swim event, Swimathon. In the run up to the challenge Ben will be telling his story, documenting all the aches and pains of training and explaining why he’s raising money for Marie Curie. If you would like to jon Ben, sign up for Swimathon today.