Saturday, February 23, 2008

Swim Power

I have been coaching a twice weekly swim group (swim4tri) for some time now (approx 2.5 years) and take immense pleasure in seeing swimmers go from barely being able to complete 100 yards without stopping, to breaking 10 minutes for a 500 yard timed swim.  Taking a swimmer from incompetent freestyle swimmer to competent is for me somewhat easy.  I seem perfectly able to smooth out most peoples form and get them into a rhythm with their swimming.  Focus on body position and pushing the water in the right direction is the primary emphasis for these swimmers and my coaching style and ability seems to get these swimmers to a good level fast!

So the perennial problem (for me anyhow) has been progressing my 7:30-8 minute swimmers (remember none of these swimmers come from a swim background and most learnt to swim as adults).  Most of the group swim twice weekly and have been doing so for some time, not all are able to add a third session due to time constraints and wanting to focus the appropriate amount of time on cycling and running.  So a dilemma!  I became very aware that my coaching style needed an injection of new ideas and so I thought about what I could do to remedy this. Steve Tarpinian has been coaching swimmers and triathletes for a long time (over 20 years) and I have always been a big fan of his instructional DVD Swim Power.  I contacted Steve and asked if he could travel over to Bellevue and offer his expertise to my swimmers (and indirectly me of course!), fortunately he said yes!

Steve was able to spend some time with me and my wife Cindy in the days prior to the clinic and this time was so valuable to me.  I gained a new perspective on some of the drills I have been performing with my swimmers for the last several years and got some valuable feedback on the 'early catch' and elbow bend.  Incorporating swim cords (stretch cords) on the poolside suddenly took on a new meaning and the value of this simple addition to my weekly group workouts I could envision would be significant.

The clinic came and went and was very successful.  I had the chance to support Steve and help him run the clinic while all the time trying to listen for his words of wisdom to take on board and use for my own athletes.  I took detailed notes down on the video analysis of my own swimmers strokes and am now prescribing their drills with more direction.  Within my Swim4Tri group I am incorporating some of Steve's guidelines for correct drill execution and yes I am starting to see some progress from those swimmers that were in a bit of a rut.  Some of the group are even committing to add a third swim workout to their training schedules!!!

I have now purchased a coach cam and as a result can now offer under water video analysis and drill prescription for all my athletes and swimmers.  I am excited to take my swim coaching to the next level, for those interested check out my website

Friday, February 1, 2008

Making Changes

Life presents us with many cross roads. I am at one of those junctions right now. Which road should I take? Triathlon is and always has been my passion ever since I discovered this wonderful sport of ours back in 1989. I quickly understood that Triathlon was more than just a sport or pastime it was a lifestyle.

Nineteen years on and I find myself working in the industry I love marketing and promoting what I believe to be the best wetsuit brand in the sport (blueseventy). However due to recent changes in my role within the company I find myself facing a tough decision.

My new role has me promoting and leading the entry of blueseventy into the world of open water swimming (in the USA). Now, I love swimming and consider myself a relatively good exponent of the first discipline of our sport however on a standalone basis I find it hard to get excited about. As much as I have tried to turn myself on to this new Olympic discipline (Beijing 2008 will represent the inaugural year of the 10km open water swim as a medal event) I find it lacks the color, flair and passion of triathlon, I hate to say it but it is also not 'cool' in the same way that triathlon is.

This role change has come at the same time I decided that I wanted to more actively get involved in coaching (something I have been doing ever since obtaining my degree in Sport and Exercise Science back in 1995). I have been very fortunate to have had a lot if interest in my coaching business of late and this has helped me make the tough financial decision of leaving blueseventry and throwing myself headlong into full time coaching.

Those of you that have helped reassure me that pursuing what you are passionate about is the right thing to do and those that have joined my coaching group in recent months, I thank you. My wonderful wife Cindy who puts up with my ever changing mind (which I know drives her insane at times) I love you and thank you for allowing me to pursue this. Without your blessing this decision would have been impossible to make.

Rest assured I will continue to work with blueseventy and represent them as an ambassador locally and nationally, my time with them has taught me a great deal and exposed me further to the industry and sport I love.

Please follow my progress on this blog as I look forward to an exciting new career.