We met Brett and Robbie when I came with my husband to one of Brett’s camps in St Moritz last year. We were quite curious to meet the legendary coach and at the same time a bit worried about the week ahead of us! But we thought he has produced so many champions so he must be doing something right. I was particularly interested in finding out whether I would be able to improve my swim.
I only learned how to swim ‘front crawl’ 6 or 7 years ago to the extent I could finish 400m sprint swim races (at first in 13 minutes!). Two years later I was able to complete an Ironman swim. Working hard was not a problem but I just could not improve. My Ironman swims were between 1:20 and 1:30. I tried everything, different swim coaches, strength work, increasing volume but nothing worked. Because I’m a stubborn person I was not going to give up.
The decision to come to the camp was fuelled by Bella and Stephen Bayliss (who we met in Sand’s Beach in Lanzarote) stories about how Brett changed their swim stroke and made them much better swimmers. We could witness it in races last year watching Stephen leading the swim pack from the start through the finish whether it was a sea swim, river or a lake.
Considering my struggles with the swim and Bella’s and Stephen’s stories going to see the “coach Sutton” seemed like my last attempt to give swimming a chance!
Already on the first day of the camp we realised that he is different from all coaches we have worked with or met in the past. He is very passionate about coaching, his athletes and how to make them better. However, what really differentiates him is the individual approach not only to training but also motivating the squad members.
After the introductions we started our first swim workout. Brett was watching carefully each person during the warm up, then the four age groupers on the camp were allocated to different lanes and no surprise, I was the only person in my lane. We were doing a very similar session just the volume would be lower the slower swimmer one was.
After the swim the age groupers had a short talk with Brett about their upcoming races, what they were doing this year and got an initial feedback about the swim. When I told him that I’m going to race Kona in October he didn’t say anything. Only the next day when he saw me running he told me that he thought I must have won the lottery slot or bought my place on an e-Bay auction! So you can imagine how bad my swimming must have looked.
Over next few days Brett started changing my stroke focusing on one, maximum two things at a time. He said that I have the same problem as some of his athletes that I think to much about what I do. So he had to work out for me drills and things to think about when I was swimming that would keep me away from over-thinking and at the same time correcting the basic issues with my stroke. He called it ‘building the boat’ phase. I was given the same paddles as Nicola Spirig and I was doing very similar drills as a few of his professional athletes, especially the female athletes with no swimming background. My husband, Rafal was given different exercises and he was asked to use different paddles. We both were asked to use pull buoys but much bigger ones that we had brought with us. We bought three, cut them into pieces and glued back to create longer ones and they keep us flat in the water. This was no different to the pros, most of them almost always swim with pull buoys. Some of them have bigger, some smaller, some massive ones so we were in a good company.
Brett’s attention to detail and perfectionism is second to none. He watched 12-15 people at the same time, correcting them from time to time, stop if someone doesn’t quite get it right or give them a bit of ‘motivational talk’ (which someone watching from outside may call shouting) if they don’t follow the instructions the way he would like to. The age groupers were treated in exactly the same way, the drills had to be done perfectly. He was always giving his opinions, always motivating, always fair, everyone treated the same way. Even if I was given a ‘motivational talk’ I knew exactly why, whether it was for not swimming the way he wanted or not quite giving it all when the reps were supposed to be swum hard.
After the week I stopped ‘sneaking’ and my stroke, according to Brett, was much better. I was asked to continue doing the same three drills and swim always with the pull buoy and use the paddles for most of the workouts.
The camp was a great experience and I was amazed how much I learned during the six swim sessions we had. After few weeks of training following Trisutto.com approach I could feel I was getting stronger and I could swim longer sessions not getting as tired as before. I raced Mt Tremblant and I had the best swim of my life there. Kona was not as good as I had hoped for as the seas was very difficult for weaker swimmers this year. However, I’m motivated and determined and I keep getting stronger and faster following few basic principles we worked on during the camp.
We are very happy we had the opportunity to meet Brett and Robbie and the camp helped us to become better triathletes.