Swim SmoothA digital swim coach for iOS and Apple Watch

2019 – 21

Product design


swimsmooth.comApp Store
Over 18 months I worked with the leading swim coaching company to design and launch their mobile app. Designed to help swimmers understand and improve their swimming. I had sole responsibility for, design, bringing the product from techincal prototype to launching and iterating on a consumer-facing web & mobile app.
Swim Smooth


ProjectHow to turn Apple Watch data into meaningful and motivating swim coaching advice?

When I joined, the team had been working the better part of a year on algorithms to interpret a swimmers’ arm movement and give them feedback on their stroke. Working closely with our CEO, swim coach, and data scientist, we designed a framework for showing a swimmer their technique: a heatmap-based for visualising a swimmers stroke, and features to help them take action on feedback.

Initial research


Conversations with swimmers and coaches helped us understand how they thought about their technique currently, and therefore how we might help them improve.

  • How do swimmers intuitively think about their stroke?
  • What are common ‘aha’ moments for swimmers we could learn from?
  • What kind of feedback do swimmers find motivating?

Finding the right framing

Our research yielded a bunch of useful insights…

  • Swimmers often think of specific ‘moments’ in their stroke (e.g. the moment their hand hits the water) as the areas to think about improving.
  • Feeling ‘efficient’ in the water is a commonly expressed desire. More universal than out-and-out speed or endurance
  • Swimmers really struggle with not being able to see their swim technique and learn visually

Based on the 'moments' finding, we came up with 6 snapshots of the stroke, that mapped to easily distinguishable moments you as a swimmer ‘feel’ as you swim. We tested each of these areas heavily with real swimmers to make sure they’d be understood.

High fidelity designs

Stroke insights designs
Stroke insights designs
  • For each area of their stroke, we show the swimmer a picture of what they’re doing. The heatmap shows the variance in their stroke, and where it’s concentrating. Seeing this for the first time is often a jaw-dropping moment for a keen swimmer.
  • Impact scores relate the feedback back to tangible things the swimmer cares about: speed, efficiency, and injury risk.
  • Finally, we serve up coaching videos specific to that part of the stroke, giving you drills to try and tips on how to improve.

Post-launch learnings

"The number for the stroke insights is really useful to see how I am improving each week"


"The app has been great at letting me know what I’m doing under the water , which is what my coach struggled to see. "


"No shoulder pain now as my pull through is less wide now!"


"Insights are BIG benefit over any other app - I have already received some great advice from only 2 swims"


"Right now, if I want to see how my current left hand entry score is compared with the score of 10 days ago, it takes a lot of time. I have to look at each day one by one."


"I bought an Apple Watch so I could use stroke insights with my swimmers"


While most of the post-launch feedback was positive, there were a few areas it became clear we should iterate on.
  1. Swimmers struggled to understand how their stroke had changed over time
  2. The specific areas had a focusing effect for many swimmers, where they'd focus on their recommended areas to the detriment of the rest of their stroke.
  3. Some found the numbered-scores too attention hogging, and would obsess over minor improvements. We wanted to make it clear that the numbers were just a guide, and reduce their promience in favour of more graphical indications of good & bad.


Activity tracking

The first work I did on joining Swim Smooth was figuring out the basic activity tracking. Users would swim with Apple Watch, and we’d provide a detailed breakdown of their swim. Helping them to understand how they did, and where they might improve.

Early wireframes

Iterating on table designs for lap-by-lap data. This involved a lot of questions around naming of metrics and deciding on the level of fidelity to show.

Activity detail

Swim Activity tracking
Swim Activity tracking
Swim Activity tracking
The final design intentionallty borrowed from the language of other fitness apps, to lean on their familiarity. We start with high level facts and more approachable stats, like personal bests and technique insights. The deeper you go, the more geeky it gets, with enough detail on a lap-by-lap basis to please our most data-headed swimmers and triathletes.

Watch app

Watch recording
Watch recording
Watch recording
The watch app was kept intentionally simple. Swimmers interviewed repeatedly said they weren’t keen on having to fiddle with smart devices mid session. The watch makes it simple to record sessions in the pool and open water. Most of the processing happens in the background and becomes apparent when reviewing a swim on your phone.


Brand update & Launch

Swim Smooth are a 10 year old swim coaching company with an established name in the swimming world. As part of the app launch, I undertook an update of their branding to reflect the modernization of the coaching and their new digital incarnation.

Logo refinement

Swim Smooth logo refinement
Swim Smooth's logo is used by a worldwide network of around 50 coaching companies, and Swim Smooth were keen to not invalidate all their partners’ merchandise and marketing material by introducing a brand new logo. Instead, I took the existing mark and refined it. Updating to a sharper, more legible typeface, and simplifying the shapes to more simple geometric forms. We also added a more small-size friendly version for use in our app icons.

Landing Page

We launched with a single landing page, pulling out the key benefits and speaking to our main audience – performance-minded triathletes and open water swimmers hungry to improve their technique.

App Store Assets

App store thumbnail
App store thumbnail
App store thumbnail
Rounding out the package for launch were app store assets highlighting the key features