Swim with BRAT

Adult Swim Sessions

Our swim sessions are focused on improving your freestyle stroke and endurance and are enjoyed by existing and would-be triathletes, former club and county swimmers, swim-run enthusiasts, experienced and new open water swimmers… and anyone who wants to improve.

    Occasionally sessions are cancelled because of pool closure, bad weather and so on – keep an eye on the central sessions and south Facebook groups. There’s also a WhatsApp group for urgent information about central swimming – ask the coaches to add you.

    ** These sessions are currently suspended due to covid**

    Early morning coached sessions held at Bluecoat School in Harborne, from 06:00 to 07:00am.

    Who is the session aimed at?

    Anyone who can swim 100m freestyle – speed doesn’t matter. We can’t teach people to swim from scratch, but we work with a really broad range of abilities.

    Is there a charge for the session?

    Yes, £5 per session

    What does the session usually involve?

    10 minutes of warm up, 10-15 minutes of drills, 25-30 minutes of endurance swimming and then a 5 minute cool down.

    What do I need to know if it’s my first time?

    Aim to be ready at poolside around 5:50am your first time.

    There are changing rooms, toilets, and showers, and a water fountain.

    The school entrance is on Somerset Road, where it intersects with Metchley Lane, B17 0HR. The school gates are often shut in the early morning, so get in touch for the current code and parking arrangements.

    Once through the gate, follow the road ahead and round to the right to the lit pool building. The entrance is on the right hand side as you face it. The changing rooms are straight on.

    What do I need to bring?

    To start with there’s no need for special equipment, but we do then have a list of swimming aids we encourage people to buy.

    Bring your BRAT ICE tag if you’re already a member, to leave on the side of the pool. If you’re a prospective member trying the session out and don’t have a tag, it’s helpful if you bring emergency contact details in another format.


    “The early morning swim sessions are perfect for training before work. They’re technically-focused sessions run by a dedicated coach striving to improve technique, efficiency and endurance. My swimming has gone from strength to strength.” Helen, ultra runner and swimmer.


    Words from the coach

    photo of Simon

    Tuesday swim coach Simon originally joined BRAT looking for people to cycle with, and then the coaching sessions got him back in the pool after a number of years. He then trained as a triathlon coach to help others. ‘It’s contagious!’ Simon claims.

    What do you love about coaching the session, Simon?

    “It’s a great session with people who are committed to their swimming and willing to work hard – best kind of coach feedback.

    “Oh – and it stops me getting lazy and staying in bed much after 5am!”

    What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming along for the first time?

    “Once you get over the idea of getting up in the morning, it’s a really great way to start the day.”


    ** These sessions are currently suspended due to covid**

    Early morning sessions held at Bluecoat School in Harborne, from 06:00-07:00am.

    Who is the session aimed at?

    All abilities, with the coach’s main focus being efficiency and refinement. It helps if you can swim at least 50m (two 25m lengths) freestyle (front crawl) but you can work at your own level.

    The lanes vary depending on who turns up for the session.

    Friday sessions are based around building endurance, by developing efficiency and technique, which means often more lengths without a break – but you can always miss some out if you need to.

    Is there a charge for the session?

    Yes, £5 per session

    What does the session usually involve?

    Swimming! The coach likes to allow people to swim as much as possible during the session, so spends as little as possible talking! The session to follow is put at the end of your lane, and you can expect tips now and again, but mostly you will be left to practice, observe, and come back for re-assurance or guidance.

    What do I need to know if it’s my first time?

    Arriving 15 minutes early will enable the coach to help you start in the right lane and explain the session, or otherwise five minutes after 6am will allow them to focus on you whilst everyone else is warming up, if you don’t mind not swimming as much.

    There are changing rooms, toilets, and showers, and a water fountain.

    The school entrance is on Somerset Road, where it intersects with Metchley Lane, B17 0HR. The school gates are often shut in the early morning, so get in touch for the current code, or wait for other swimmers.

    Once through the gate, follow the road ahead and round to the right to the lit pool building. The entrance is on the right hand side as you face it. The changing rooms are straight on.

    What do I need to bring?

    Swimming cap and goggles will be very useful!

    Bring any pool equipment you have (like fins, pull buoy, paddles) but if you don’t have any, these are not essential to start with.

    Bring your BRAT ICE tag if you’re already a member, to leave on the side of the pool, or emergency contact details in another format, to save form filling.


    “My main focus now is helping others. I just love supporting other triathletes – passing on nuggets of knowledge to add value to everyone else’s experience of this great sport.” Sarah Paskin, BRAT coach

    Words from the coach

    photo of Sarah

    Friday swim coach Sarah Paskin has competed in all distances of triathlon from sprint right through to numerous Ironman events, as well as multi-terrain, multi-day and other multi-sport events, not to mention an ultra marathon.

    She’s participated in sport all her life, with swimming, badminton, netball and hockey from an early age. She started hockey coaching in 2001 and retired from that sport six years later, finding triathlon the following year.

    Joining BRAT club in 2009, Sarah admits that our distinctive club kit was a big draw at first; but she stayed for the variety of sessions and sheer size of the club.

    She loves to learn and expand her knowledge, to develop her skills as a triathlon coach and is currently qualified to a Level 3. She finds anatomy fascinating and the understanding helps her with swim and run analysis.

    A qualified CYTECH mechanic (level 2 and Level 3) specialising in electronic gears and wheel building, Sarah is also completing a level 2 in Precision Nutrition, exploring the psychology around food attitude and the implications on adaptation and performance.

    What do you love about coaching the session, Sarah?

    “I love Friday mornings. Adding value to people’s swim experiences, makes my day.

    “A smile and happy faces help too, as well as the willingness to listen and try new things.”

    What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming along for the first time?

    “There is nothing to worry about, simply come along, introduce yourself and enjoy the experience.”


    “Sarah is a wonderful, patient coach who somehow always manages to give both a bright smile and words of wisdom at 6am!”, Another Sarah: runner who tries to swim

    The Sunday sessions are held at University of Birmingham Sport and Fitness in Edgbaston, from 17:00-18:00pm.

    “I love Sunday’s friendly, supportive swim training – it’s led by dedicated experienced coaches in a great pool. It’s also a brilliant way to flush out toxins after a Sunday long run/ride. I always feel fresh and revived afterwards.” Helen, ultra runner and swimmer.

    Who is the session aimed at?

    Mixed abilities: from those who want to improve their swimming to age group athletes. There is a novice lane, but the session is held in deep water and ideally you should be able to swim a minimum of 200m freestyle (front crawl).

    Is there a charge for the session?

    Yes, £5 per session

    What does the session usually involve?

    A warm up, coached drills, a main set with different focus depending upon the session and a cool down.

    What do I need to know if it’s my first time?

    Try to arrive at 16:40 the first time, to allow time for form filling and changing, to be ready to start swimming at 17:00.

    Let us know you are coming and the coach can meet you at reception to help you get in. Our coaches usually wear a red BRAT Swim Coach polo shirt and we have designated lanes in the pool, usually on the side nearest the Bristol Road and on the right as you enter the pool area from the changing room.

    You can purchase or hire a locker band at the university sports centre reception.

    What do I need to bring?

    To get the best out of swim sessions you will need a few bits of kit for every session.

    Kick Board: Larger ones are better Kick Board

     

     

     

    Pull Buoy: Smooth edges are more hydrodynamic Pull Buoy

     

     

     

    Power paddles for strength work Power Paddles

     

     

    Finis paddles are useful for technique work Finis Paddles

     

     

     

    Fins: Longer more flexible are better than shorter stubby types Fins

     

     

     

    Mesh Swim aid bag: To keep it all tidy Swim Bag

     

     

     

     

    These are all available from on-line retailers such as Amazon, Wiggle and Swim Shop. If you have any questions just ask one of the Swim Coaches.

    Drinks bottle for during the session (there is a water fountain poolside).

    Bring your BRAT ICE tag if you’re already a member, to leave on the side of the pool: if you’re a prospective member or haven’t received your tag yet, bring emergency contact details in another format.


    Words from the coach

    photo of Rob

    Sunday swim coach Rob Slater joined BRAT in 2002 and got into coaching accidentally – by stepping in when one of the lanes at his son’s session needed some extra help! He has subsequently qualified as a level 2 triathlon coach, as well as completing open water and strength and conditioning workshops.

    A keen Ironman triathlon racer, Rob also enjoys trail running, especially along coastal path runs, and open water swimming.

    When he’s not being so active, he loves reading, anything from classics to modern fiction; cooking, especially seafood and Indian food; and art.

    What do you love about coaching the session, Rob?

    “It is particularly satisfying to see people develop their swimming in relation to their own goals. I know that I am just a facilitator but seeing athletes achieve and develop their goals is inspiring. And coaching helps me to reflect on my own swimming.”

    What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming along for the first time?

    “We’re an inclusive club and would love to be able to help with your swimming. You can do as much or as little of the session as you wish.”

    If you’re new to this kind of swim training and haven’t got all the kit yet, you can still come along and join the session: it can be adapted, someone may have a spare, or you can miss drills out if necessary.

    These are coached swim sessions at The Bromsgrove Sports and Leisure Centre. They start at 19:30 and last for one hour.

    “Friday swimming session in Bromsgrove is well planned and personalised. It has helped me improve my swimming technique immensely.” Louise

    Who is the session aimed at?

    Seniors and juniors, accompanied by participating seniors, who are able to confidently swim 100 metres (four lengths of a 25m pool) freestyle (front crawl) without a rest. With six lanes available, all speeds are accommodated.

    Is there a charge for the session?

    It’s £5 for seniors. £2.50 for juniors booked in advance on Clubspark.  After a few trial weeks we ask participants to join BRAT.

    What does the session usually involve?

    The focus of each session depends upon a variety of factors, not the least the UK Triathlon season. Technique, power, endurance and speed sets all feature to differing degrees through the season.

    What do I need to know if it’s my first time?

    Arrive at 19:25 ready to swim.  You will have pre-booked via Clubspark.  You will drop your bag on pool side.  Follow coaches’ guidance as to which lane you will be swimming in. 

    What do I need to bring?

    Swim kit and towel, plus training aids. A note is put onto the BRAT Bromsgrove and Redditch Facebook page indicating what aids are needed each week. Otherwise bring everything.

    “Friday swimming at BSLC is a great session! Andy works us hard and there’s good camaraderie!” Nigel

    Words from the coach

    Friday swim coach Andrew is a long-time BRAT who regularly runs these sessions for the club.

    Andrew was inspired to coach by Louise Barron who guided him through qualification. He’s keen to support anybody who wants to coach in turn.

    Andrew has competed at most distances over more than twenty years, including at World and European levels.

    He originally joined BRAT to swim in his local lake, and gradually became more involved with the club. He uses the sessions he creates for his own training!

    What do you love about coaching or leading the session, Andrew?

    “The joyful commitment, effort and appreciation of the participants, not only as athletes but with organisation of social events, recruitment and administration. Some have taken the bold leap to train as coaches to give the athletes greater support.”

    What would you say to someone who is thinking about coming along for the first time?

    “Try it for a few weeks. Then decide whether to continue.”


    “Andy is very enthusiastic, encouraging and well organised. Each session is planned in advance and tailored to the ability of each lane.
    All swimmers receive an individual training sheet which addresses areas that need working on.
    This is a hard session but really useful for anyone who wants to try to improve and it is much appreciated by those who attend.
    There is a big range of triathlon and swimming experience present but everyone is enthusiastic, friendly and supportive.
    Three members are currently undertaking coach training.
    We have had several social events over the year.” Peter