Sasha, Age group Swimmer
Dec 07

Feedback on London clinic - Stroke technique

Hello Shev,

We made it home, with minor delays and Sasha had an "awesome" time skiing today. Last night he asked "Mom what will you dream tonight?" I told him I will dream of a light day at work today. He said "I will dream I am swimming 100 IM and will be perfect for Shev". Thank you for the time spend with him, I welcome any great role model into Sasha's life. He enjoyed the time with you.

You have the gift of teaching, listening and using the right words to inspire, empower and encourage your learners!

Dr. Arina

DBT- Breathing Feedback

Dec 07. Gianni & Aurora,
Texas, USA

Hi Coach Shev!

My kids are doing great! I just asked them if they do their DBT. They had to think a bit........then my 14 year old explained to me that she does it on the wall during practice when she gets tired. She also does it behind the starting blocks at meets. She has been swimming real well without any incidences of panic or hyperventilation. Her best event is the 200 Fly. At a recent big prelim/finals meet here in Texas, she finaled in every event she swam and she swam a 2:11 in her 200 Fly.

My 10 year old son, Gianni, also does DBT behind the starting blocks. I don't remember if I told you this, but he is the reigning 10 and Under Boys Texas State Champ in 100 meter butterfly. (He just turned 10 2 weeks before.) His coach just told me he is ranked 14th nationally in our USA IMX rankings. (Which is an all-around event ranking.) He is going for several state championship titles in March at our state short course champs. He wants to break the team record in the 100 fly. He goes a 1:07 now. The record is a 1:04. He also wants to break the long course record. He swam a 1:17 last July. The record is 1:15. He has up until the very end of June to do that. The current record holder is going to Olympic Trials in the butterfly events.

Got to go....My daughter has "doubles" all Christmas break......got to get her to the pool!

Keep in touch!

Uni of Arizona, USA
Gayle Lohse, PhD
Oct 07

DBT - Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

Dear Coach Shev,

I have been researching the benefits of deep breathing exercises and the application for performing wind musicians. I am a graduate student at the University of Arizona currently studying for my doctorate in clarinet performance. I found your article during my research during my research devours and was interested in obtaining permission to use your picture "The Breathing Code" to supplement a paper I am writing for a class. Let me know what you think.

Either way, I like your perspectives and views on deep breathing.


Gayl Lohse

Fm: Trevor, USA Pilot
May 07

Pilot Training - Underwater Swimming

Dear Coach Shev,

I am a pilot in the army, one of the task I must complete for water survival is an underwater swim with full flight gear on (flight suit, survival vest, boots, and flight helmet with foam core so it floats.) Since the helmet floats it pulls me right to the surface but I have to keep my face in the water and swim 20 meters. What is the best stroke for this and what can I do to effectively train for this event? I appreciate any help you can give.


Hi Trevor

Normally (without pilot's helmet!), if we want to stay submerged and travel underwater; keeping the chin glued to the chest, will be enough to keep us under the water - as long as the chin is in contact with the chest, and kicking is maintained. Breaststroke would be most suited.

Check it out, and see what happens.

I would like to know:

* In this scenario, are the pilot's connected to any portable O2 supply mechanism ?
* Is this about; to test pilot's breath control capability ?
* How flexible is the joint between the pilot's helmet and the jacket ?

Let me know...


Thank you - Texas, USA

Dec 06, Maureen

Coach Shev:

Aurora swam the 400 IM last night. I taught her the breathing technique you sent. She said she used it while standing behind the starting block. I also taught it to my 9 year old son. He looked so cute standing behind the starting block doing the DBT. (I could see his skinny little rib cage. :)

Aurora swam a 4:50. She added a couple seconds to her best time, but that's supposed to be good this time of the season. She said her extremities felt really light. Her lungs did not hurt her, as usual. She did complain about her throat. I have to look into how to get her to relax her throat. She was very happy and actually thanked me on the way home for taking care of her. :)

My 9 year old did awesome. (He's not even 9 1/2 yet.) He dropped 15 seconds on his 200 IM and swam a 2:46 low and got his "10 and Under TAGS cut". (TAGS in Texas lingo is the top age group meet in the state.) He's all excited.

Thank you again. I'm looking forward to watching my kids use the DBT in practice. I'll keep you posted if it is ok with you. :)


A Letter from Cape Town

Aug 06, Bruce Lockhart

Dear Shev

Hi from Cape Town.

I just wanted to say ‘thankyou’ for making so much useful information freely available on your website.

At age 41 I have recently taken up swimming and your articles have given me much needed guidance for technique,breathing etc.I underwent surgery(pectus carinatum repair) in Berlin in May this year and swimming was recommended for my recovery – this is what got me started.Now I think I am hooked for life!!Could you tell me what stroke(s) you would recommend for specific toning (building?) the chest/pecs and stomach/abdominals?Not keen on weight training if I can be in the water.

Thanks again.


Bruce Lockhart.

Sri Lanka

Aug 06, Veasna

Hello Coach Shev,

My son Veasna is 14 years old and a decent swimmer. He is Sri Lanka vice champion in 50,

and 100 me butterfly and freestyle and certainly needs to work on his breathing which is poor.

I am wondering if you have any swimming camp in December during the Christmas

holidays as we will be in France and it would be easy to fly to London and attend your clinic?

Thank you

Laurence M Pochard

Ironman - Zurich

June 06, R. Willkinson

Hi Shev.

I hope all is well with you.

Sorry I have not been in touch for a while. I got distracted by the Ironman which was last Sunday in Zurich. Fantastic day. My times:

Swim 1:16:46
Bike 6:21:39
Run 3:54:35
Transitions 0:10:15

Total Time 11:43:15

Very pleased for a first effort at that distance.

It is amazing how far my swimming has come. The last couple of months I have felt very strong in the water. On Sunday the distance was no issue. My effort levels in the swim were purposefully low given the day ahead. My swim was not fast, but it was very very comfortable. Finger dragging drill over the last few months I believe played a big part in that. And on Sunday I did it a couple of times just to keep the relaxation and form there in my mind. Fantastic. Thanks to you!

Cheers for now.


Training British Forces - National masters

Fm: British Army, Navy and Airforce Officer Edu
June, 06 Cpt Katy

Hi Shev,

Thought I'd let you know how we got on at the Masters this weekend and thank you for the visualisation tips.

Katie Hislop did really well: 1st in 50 free; 2nd in 200 br, ; 3rd in 50 and and 100 br breast and 3rd in 100 fc.

Sian also had a great meet and got silver in the 200 fly.

I got a silver for 50 back.

We were most pleased about the relays as we won both the free and medleys.

My times were a little improvement - 35.02 back and 31.78 for the fly, but apparantly I did not relax at all and was totally fighting the water rather than stroking. Any tips for checking this - I am very relaxed and comfortable in training, but the racing seems to be a bit harder!

Thank you again for your help.


A Feedback

31.05 06

Hi Shev

Just to let you know that Liam won 3 golds (100 & 50m Fly, 50m FC), 2 bronze (100 IM & 100m FC) and a 6th place medal for his backstroke (not his favourite) in the Stevenage Open Gala over the bank holiday weekend. He managed to knock off over 2 seconds from his frontcrawl - we were impressed as he didn't once turn his hand outwards on the strokes ! He remembered what you had shown him.

See you on Saturday 3rd June

Debbie, Neal & Liam Doonan

A Great Feedback!

The Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, March 06

Jemma Lowe (15) competes in 100m Fly Finals

Congratulations to our swimmer Jemma Lowe (15) from Hartlepool, for reaching the swimming finals in 100m Fly.

In addition to her club`s training programme, Coach Shev Gul has been helping Jemma since age 13 (Oct 03 – Sept 05), focusing on;

Fine-tuning stroke technique........core power, body roll, high elbow, timing, balance, SL etc
Breathing Control ........................ exhalation and inhalation control technique - diaphragmatic
Mental Skills ................................ mental rehearsal/visualisation, AL & sports mind skills-                                                        preparation, racing strategies and relaxation techniques.

Well done Jemma!

---Original Message---

From: Jemma & Mike
Date: August 05
Subject: Advanced Coaching - Champion Jemma

Hi Shev,

The main opportunity for Jemma at the moment is to acheive the Commenwealth qualification times for her events of which she is 2.0 seconds off on the 200m Fly and 1.5 second off the 100m Fly. Jemma says that:

A. Her start off the blocks and the pacing/breathing pattern are areas of improvement.

B. I believe that Jemma could benefit from learning the correct breathing pattern as well as learning how to      'switch the power on' through her strokes. She also needs some technique tips on how to finish strong at      the back end of her races. These are the headline opportunities as seen through our eyes. You might have      others Shev!

Jemma & Mike

---Original Message---

From: Mike & Jemma
Date: July 05
Subject: A Fly Technique Query - Breakthrough Swimming!

Hi Shev,

Hope you are well.

Thanks for the regular tips, just thought i would update you on the latest adventures of Champion Jemma. She has really done us and herself proud. After a testing time in Mexico where she tore her cartilidge, she has bounced back and returns from Budapest, in the European Championships where she reached the finals in all of her entered events. 50 Fly, 100 Fly & 200 Fly. At this event she broke the British age group record (15 long course) for the 200 Fly, She PB`d 3 times on her 50 Fly and she won Silver medal in the 100 Fly.

The dream goes on!

Kind Regards

Mike & Jemma

Re: Hawaii Ironman, Oct 05 - Technique & Mental Skills Preps

From: Graham.Webster@zeuscapital.co.uk
29. Sept 05, Ironmongary Row Pool, EC1


Thanks for another great session today. It has given me a new motivation to get to the pool to try out the new ideas and make some progress!

Things to work on:

Stroke –

Swim straight as an arrow, no wiggle. Head nice and straight with the spine (hiding head does not mean bending head to shoulder, but shoulder comes to the head naturally as part of the stroke), bald spot showing, skim, don’t stroke across my centre line with my left hand (don’t like that wiggling). Nice “woosh” at end of stroke (ie make myself tall at end of the stroke – reach for the wall – not over-pronounced, but feel the speed after the stroke).

Kick –

from the hip, constant – I like the “burner” analogy. I almost forgot I was

kicking today. which I feel is progress as previously I was aware of an erratic kick.

Breathing –

This needs work. Practice on dry land and try to take rhythm to the water.

I’ve taught skiing myself before – so I understand the process of stripping back to the “beginning” – we can then see the habits we have learned before and that have become “natural” – but which will hold back progress. The trick is to unlearn them and make the unfamiliar seem natural. Its good to be able to have some understanding and with a “following wind” (and a good coach!) make a break through to smooth speedy swimming.

Thanks again

Graham Webster
Zeus Capital

27 Jan 05

Energy comes from the hips!......

Hi Shev.

Hope you are well. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but this week has been very interesting in terms of work.

Firstly I would like to say thank you for last Saturday’s lesson. I thought it was fantastic, especially how welcoming both yourself and Neil made me feel. I felt really relaxed which is probably why I enjoyed it so much.

Well, trying to be the good student, I went swimming on Monday. I spent the first 30 minutes trying out the drills that Neil taught me (which in itself is fun when you are lying on your back with loads of kids dive bombing around you) just to try and get my posture into the correct position. The next 30 minutes I spent trying to do the front crawl but in a correct position. Normally when I am swimming, I can swim long distances but very very slowly because I have to drag myself through the water (and I am not exactly svelte in size). This normally means that if I swim in a “swimming lane” I am too slow for other people as they wiz by me (however the slow lane is too slow – I am sure they are the equivalent of Driving Miss Daisy).

However, on Monday I tried to not swim fast but concentrate on technique. I tried not to kick my legs as this is a part I have not really got to grips with and I didn’t want to do too many things at once. After reading your comic that you gave me, I tried to swivel in order to use my torso muscles rather than use arms alone and also tried to get my hand to enter the water at an earlier position near my head (rather than my usual over extend before entering). BLIMEY. After a couple of practice lengths I could not believe the speed and the ease it was to swim. After a few laps, I really noticed the difference of entering the hand in the water earlier than what I had been doing and after a while was annoyed if I accidentally over extended even once. I really noticed a difference. I tried not to rush it (because that leads to learning a poor technique) but the results were amazing. However, the best improvement was the pivoting of my body from one side to the other which meant that I was using less energy using my arms but increased the total energy umpteen fold from the torso. It does remind me of Kung Fu (which I have done for many years) where energy comes from the hips NOT the arms (same principle). I went into the “swimming” lane and now my new problem is swimming into people (I tried to keep my head down looking at the bottom of the pool to keep my body in alignment). I must be able to do a length in about half the time than I normally did it. I do have a problem with breathing because now that I am using a new technique it is awkward to breathe every two, so I breathe every 4 (which brings its own set of problems). I still am not good at the kicking part but I am sure that will come with subsequent lessons. Basically, I have seen a significant improvement in my swimming and that is a direct result of both you and Neil’s tuition.



Hello Shev,

Hope you had a good Christmas and all very best wishes for a happy and successul 2005!

Thought you would like to see the attached pictures - one shows Melissa with all the club championship cups she won last year. The other shows Melissa getting the A squad Kings Cup - awarded to the swimmer who has made the most outstanding progess over the year!! I feel we have your contribution, (as well as Melissa's own of course), to greatly thank for her having achieved that award!!

We would love to know when will you be in a position to see Melissa again.

Cheers, Shev.


Melissa Melissa

Practice/play with the following options:

For Breast Stroke development:

* Squating;- Twice a day (am and pm), 20 repeats.As shown at Edmonton pool.
This will strengthen your knee joints and upper legs. Do it every day.

* Quick/Fast Arms - Always! Arms recovering in front of the chest. Elbows close to
the surface.

* Strongest kicking - Even in practice sessions. Kick as you are in competition
Soles kissing at the and of each leg kick (Squating drills will
help you develop stronger legs).

* Head looking down - When breathing.

For Fly and Brs drill:

*Upper body flying over the water: You will need this skill for fly and Brs.
Do this drill frequently (Phelps does this well).

Drill: Arms extended, chest pulsing,. After two pulses,
arms sweep out to the corners and perform one fast arm
pull ander the water (with high elbows). And arms finish
by the hip. Try to fly over the water longest during each

This drill will teach you to stay / fly over the water longest
during each stroke (you started doing this drill well).
Spend alot of time mastering this drill. Your Fly
and Brs will look more owsome.....

* Fly and & Brs Combo: Three Breast strokes followed by Three Fly strokes.
10 lengths ea session.

Breathing from diaphragm: First, perfect this breathing (deep from tummy) technique
during Back Stroke swims. Then take it to the fc, fly and Brs strokes.

Mental practices and mind calming techniques:
Very important if you want to become

number one !...
Do them all the time as described in my last email
to you.

Good luck with your practices. And keep me posted with your progress....

Well done Jemma, Alex and Melissa!


Coming from within......

"Silky kicking,
body rolling and gliding tall.
With endless relaxation
coming from within "...........sg

Hi Shev,
I like the way you describe this. The part about 'coming from within' is so precise. I don't think that many people appreciate this aspect. I'm fortunate in having a good front-crawl stroke without having to think about it. I know that when I am super-fit (Which I'm not at the moment) my stroke flows beautifully and I have always believed that the 'flowing with the water' comes from within. But I must stress that only when I am very fit am I able to swim effortlessly like this.

You may not agree with the distances involved, but two to three years ago I was swimming nearly 60,000 metres a week for a few months. This was at the age of 54! I was so fit that one morning I swam 5 x 200 metres on fly and my time on the last repeat was under the European record for my age group. At that time I had never held a British or Euro record. When I was covering 10,000 metres a day I eventually became very fatigued, after about 14 weeks, but the feeling of being very fit and being able to swim effortlessly and faster than the 20 year olds in the club - without getting seriously out of breath - will live with me forever. One day I shall start this 'mad' regime again. I can do it for a few months at a time, but can't keep it up year after year.

I find your views very interesting.

Graham Short

Feedback from Robert 15/05/03


I have only managed to fit in two sessions since Sunday. But they have been
extremely productive sessions.

Yesterday, I completed another 20 x 100m with 10 sec rest. I did it at the 50m pool in Crystal Palace. My average time was 1:34.2. This compares with 1:37.6 which I did three weeks ago and approximately 1:42 when I did my first 18 x 100m test in mid-March. This implies almost a 2min improvement on my 1500m time. I think I have another 30 secs in me.

My splits were as follows:

1: 1'33
2: 1'34
3: 1'34
4: 1'35
5: 1'35
6: 1'36
7: 1'36
8: 1'36
9: 1'34
10: 1'35
11: 1'32
12: 1'34
13: 1'35
14: 1'35
15: 1'35
16: 1'35
17: 1'37
18: 1'35
19: 1'35
20: 1'35

I feel I have made good progress since I started to see you. Thank you for all your expertise, enthusiasm and encouragement. I put my 100% improvement down to better technique not imrproved fitness. I am feeling confident that I can hit my target time by the end of this month.

Today I did 5 mins warm-up followed by 15 mins drills (5 x 1 lap Super Slow, Popov Shark Fin, Skimming, Vaulting & Normal Swim). I then did a drill from TRI 220 Magazine. It is as follows:

100m overload (c. 1'32 secs)
30 secs rest
200m race pace
25 secs rest
100m overload
20 secs rest
200m race pace
rest 15 secs
100 overload
rest 10 secs
200m race pace
100m overload

See you tomorrow.



I hope you had a good weekend enjoying the sun.

I was doing the Swanage Triathlon. It went really well despite the heat. I dont know the results yet, but I think I came in under 2 hrs 30 mins.

The swim went particularly well. With the sea water helping me float like a "piece of cork", I was able to complete my first whole 1500 metres doing front crawl all the way. Having read back over some of the articles you gave us at the out-set, about engaging the hips, I have focussed on that the last week or so. And it felt good. I really felt like the hip action of driving down and forwards was rocking me from side to side and propelling me forward much more efficiently without using any more energy. I have also been focussing on the lead arm pushing forward to the side (instead of crossing in front of the head),opening up the body and enjoying the glide. And I felt quite fresh at the end too. So a result all round.

I have the Brighton Tri left this season, so will let you know how I get on there.



Hi Shev,

You'll be pleased to hear that I am getting really confident about my swimming now. I might not have the best technique, but i have reached that stage where i can now swim at my own pace for as long as i want...its a great feeling! I can now totally relax in the water and just swim without worrying about my breathing, keeping my heart rate steady.

See you on thursday....


hi Shev,

Re Sunday feedback

A little feedback after my very enjoyable swim this evening. The Popov drill feels more balanced, and I'm able to compose myself between sides which helps keep me horizontal. Occasionally I feel my head position isn`t correct, as i swallow water or sink slightly. I am able to adjust this, but it would be nice if it was more natural. The drills and your methods are really making me think about engaging my hips, and I feel like I'm on the edge of effortless swimming. I notice that a high elbow recovery followed by a hip rotation almost naturally places the arms in the right place.
I feel close to the technique, I can taste it! I just need it to drop into place.

looking forward to Sunday,

New Sensations

Hi Shev,
I continue to be amazed at the new sensations I am experiencing each time I attend your clinics.
Last Sunday, you and Neil told me to swim with my head just a little bit higher. I have been doing so and find that (a) I am able to breathe easier; and (b) I am skimming along with less effort.
I actually managed to do two lengths non stop - something which has so far eluded me.
Also, thank you for helping me with the integration of TI - Total Immersion
drills into my swimming technique.

See you on Sunday

Kind Regards - Peter C.

Race Feedback

I've been swimming 3 or 4 times a week for the past two weeks. Had a race last weekend - 1,900 metres which I finished in just under 35 minutes. Probably my best swim of year - made sure I kept out trouble and away from the crowds as there was 600 people in the water starting together. It probably meant I swam 50 metres further than necessary but it meant I could have a more relaxed swim. During the swim I just concentrated on keeping the stroke long and smooth, and on driving through my hips. Found it hard to stick with bilateral breathing and found I was wanting to breath every other stroke rather than every three as I normally would at the pool. Didn't feel like I was moving particularly quickly but it felt comfortable and I didn't feel tired when I came out of the water to get on the bike.

No particular areas that I want to concentrate on. Feel like my technique has improved a lot - just want to continue the progression.

See you on Sunday.


Escape from ALCATRAZ / The ROCK

The biggest challenge of my life.

Dear Shev,

I take real pride and satisfaction in completing an event that I would never have normally thought about doing.

When I jumped in the water I knew it was going to be tough but I rememberred your words about relaxing and staying calm and I just went for it.

The main problem I had was the wave size. The waves were just too big and I found it increasingly hard to maintain my rythm. I tryed to feel the water around me and wait for the right time to breathe but inevitably I had to stop and get my breath back.

It took me a long time to swim, about I hour and 10 mins but I completed it and I am very proud. I miss the training and life has returned to one of work and being a Dad.

I wish you all the best and I am happy to have met you. I will have no hesitation in recommending people to you so they too experience the sweet joy of hitting the zone.

All the best for the future for you and your family.

Take care Shev,

Warm regards



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