After two successful training camps where our visiting coaches were impressed with the improvement in swim strokes and times of the athletes attending, I now sit on the plane reflecting on a pertinent point that was raised at the end of our camp debrief:
How was it that improvements observed in nearly every athletes swim were achieved not from swim specific drills, but directly upon jumping in the water after the swim lecture? One coach added ‘I got in the water after the talk and have to say I had the most enjoyable swim I’ve had in ages.‘
At the lecture we did not discuss swim technique at all. Instead I opened the minds of athletes, that the marketing and proliferation of ‘established best techniques’ can effect everyone, including the best athletes in the world; even after they have achieved remarkable success.
With complexity stripped away, swimming gets easier, more enjoyable and faster. However maintaining this is a struggle. In society in general, and triathlon in particular, we operate in a community where ‘Keep it Simple’ principles are viewed condescendingly. I point this out, as many of our age group athletes having made swim breakthroughs will now return home and bit by bit, under the guise of friendly advice will start the process of complicating their strokes all over again. The temptation to return to ‘proper’ swim techniques can effect even the best athletes in the world, even after they have achieved unbelievable success.
At training camp we had Barb ‘Pepper’ Riveros, who already has had podiums at ITU World Cups, and a 5th place finish at the last Olympics in Rio. I believe to be on the podium at the next Olympics she needs to improve her bike and run. To do this she needs to change her swim stroke.
We invested a month to achieve the stroke I believe is right for her. Barb then went traveling and racing, with a vacation in Hawaii where she collected a 2nd place in the XTerra World Champs, before arriving back in camp. The difference? A return back to the old techniques, old stroke, old drills. So I thought this was a great example to share of elite level coaching.
I’m not changing her stroke to make her a faster swimmer. I’m changing her stroke to make her a more superior triathlete.
My method of trying to get her to ‘buy in’ to the new technique is to sell her the results of Nicola Spirig. I have changed Nicola’s stroke many times over the years, from the most ‘technically correct’ six beat, high elbow, bi-lateral breather which was beautiful to watch; into the straight armed, no kick whirlwind seen at the last Olympics. That stroke allowed her between two Olympics to go from 1 minute 10 seconds behind the leaders in a wetsuit swim, to being in the front swim pack in Rio, in a non wetsuit swim. This was the key to her Rio Olympic Silver medal.
However, here is the point I want to make. Even after her success, Nicola still pines for her old swim stroke!! As we now make another change in swim technique for the Tokyo games, which will be her fifth Olympics, I still hear on a daily basis ‘I used to swim 50m and 100m so much faster. People used to complement me on my stroke, now they laugh at it.’
I will add that Daniela Ryf, now 3x Hawaii Ironman World Champion, was also given a new swim stroke when she joined. Yet she too, despite such success wants to keep changing back from her 2 beat to her 6 beat kick, as ‘I’m so much faster swimming with 6 beat‘; It makes me sick to my stomach when she keeps adding swim drills, and other things into her swim workouts, which only serve to hinder her progress.
I try to breakdown these protests by making 3 points:
- Your bike and run has been the beneficiary of these changes. You are much faster triathletes.
- Your distance swimming has improved greatly, and at top speed you now develop way less lactate. And finally, when I can see that the above is not convincing enough, I remind them:
- At least your bank manager enjoys the new stroke!
Which usually breaks the deadlock.
Here is the point for challenged swimmers – ALL three of the above athletes, if they left and were coached by someone else, they would change back to their old swim techniques in a nano second.
So I understand completely how hard it can be for age group swimmers to hold the line, and to use a technique that is not trying to copy a Michael Phelps!
To my challenged swim friends, I can only say to you that you will improve and results over thirty years have proved it. But the real challenge is in ‘hold the line’ against the opinions and instinct to complicate, as your Triathlon will be so much better for it.
Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton at his training camps in 2018. Spots still remain for Gran Canaria in February and Cyprus in April.
Article Photo Credits: Mokapot Productions
The majority of European long distance races this season are now behind us, and I have asked many athletes how they went. The most common answer: ‘it was ok but I somehow have to be able to cycle and run a lot faster.’
Every athlete wants to finish a race faster than the one before, or faster than last year etc, but only few athletes succeed. People often start to analyse and wonder… my cycling and running should be a lot better; I was faster in the shorter distances and during the marathon last fall; I was quicker during all of the long Sunday rides with my friends.
After thorough consideration some athletes decide to invest more money in a new bike and to train longer and harder. This can often be the wrong approach.
One reason why most triathletes competing in long distance races are dissatisfied with their cycling and running performances actually has to do with their swim.
What is apparent is that swimming is often underestimated in triathlon.
Do I have to swim more? Or, I already swim three or more times a week!! – are frequent reactions.
No, perhaps you don’t need to swim more however it might be a good idea to work on your swimming technique – adopt a style that fits you individually.
Kristin attributes her recent improvement to changes in her approach to swim training. Photo Credit: Jose Lois Hourcade
Kristin Lie from Norway is a great example of someone who invested time and effort into redefining her swim technique and has since seen the rewards. She recently detailed the changes in her approach in her Blog after her success at IM 70.3 Haugesund:
After the IM 70.3 in Haugesund I received numerous enquiries and comments or I was asked directly about my swimming performance. Here is my answer:
During the last past years I spent a lot of time in the water. I trained with many different swimming coaches and tried everything possible to increase my speed in the water.
The result: lots of frustration for all of the effort!!!! In May I took part in a Trisutto Camp in Mallorca. Brett Sutton and Dirk Neumann found a swimming style that was good for me.. We adjusted two small things. My breathing rhythm was changed and my swimming style was simplified considerably. Place Press Push makes my swim goes whoosh….
Result: I am out of the water faster, and more importantly I save energy. Before it felt like I needed 20 Calories and now only 1 Calorie. I immediately have power on the bike and can deliver my performance. I might offend some swim coaches now but pure swim training has nothing to do with swim training for a triathlon. This also applies to cycling and running. Which both also were changed during the camp.“
We cannot describe it better!
How can you simplify your swim; how can you get out of the water faster and more relaxed; how can you achieve faster splits on the bike and during the run, or how can you increase the overall fun and enjoyment of triathlon…, all of these these aspects are discussed and practiced at our Trisutto Camps and I invite you to join me in Mallorca in October or next Spring to learn more.
Dirk Neumann is a Trisutto Coach based out of Frankfurt Germany. Earlier in 2017 he coached his first camps on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Dirk will be coaching the Trisutto philosophy and Total Body Force Methods at camps in Mallorca this coming October with more camps available in 2018. Check here for camp dates and details.
With the success of our training camps over the last 4 years, many athletes have returned year on year. However a number of our family have asked if we can do a camp that is more about full on training in preparation for future races.
At Trisutto we thought it was a great idea, but rather than wait till next year, we were asked if we could get one underway for those preparing for Kona. The camp also great timing for a final training block for athletes attending Challenge Madrid, Ironman Barcelona or Ironman Emilia-Romagna.
16 time Iron Distance Champ, Bella in action in Lanzarote. Photo Credit: Bob Foy
As this will be our first camp of this type I thought it would be an honour to run the first Hell camp with Trisutto coach Bella Bayliss, one of the greatest Ironwomen of all time with 16 wins to her credit.
The Trisutto Hell week takes its name from my old swim camps, where we would prepare for major swim championships. If you are heading to Kona in October, or have entered a race at the end of the European season and would like to get a concentrated block of either 7 or 10 days training, we have places remaining for our camp.
Join Brett Sutton and 16 time Ironman distance Champion Bella Bayliss in Lanzarote in September.
Total Body Force techniques are taught at Trisutto Camps worldwide.
During our age group training camps we have seen athletes make incredible improvements in their triathlon swim using our TBF (Total Body Force) techniques. We have also found many athletes returned to their training environment, and individuals in their club or in the swim lane next to them have ridiculed their new stroke – despite the fact they move down the pool somewhat faster than they used to do!
It’s a tough gig going against the peer group in anything – both for athletes, and for coaches. As a coach, you often doubt and ask yourself is there a better way. For coaches, I say the hardest thing in coaching is to find a method that is not recognized by the hordes and stick with it. If I fall prey to the pressure when I invented our TBF methods and I am an Olympic level swim coach having coached 24 swimmers to the Australian Olympic team, I acknowledge how tough it is for almost all others.
However, the strength of our swim program can be illustrated with some of the successes of our athletes. When our now Trisutto coach Bella Bayliss was racing professionally there was a period when she and husband Stephen could only swim for 1 hour every second day due to a lack of pool facilities. The answer was to maximise the use of the time available – paddles and buoy, 10 x 400, 40 x 100, or one hour non-stop.
A familiar sight – Steve Bayliss leading out of the water. Photo Credit: James Mitchell Photography
Stephen Bayliss was considered not a good enough swimmer, with too poor technique for the British program. As a 3rd pack short course athlete, and 2nd pack long course he was high elbows, breathing both sides, stretching out, counting strokes, wiggling like a worm on a fishing rod as he tried to do perfect technique. After watching him run and his natural gait I thought this man got a bit of skill – these swim coaches have just killed it in the swim.
We adopted the straight arm (English cricket fast bowler) swim stroke, with breathing on one side with the instructions:-
- Stop trying to feel the water,
- stop stretching out,
- stop counting your strokes.
- Use your natural turn over – the same as you have in the run.
Stephen did, and he got better and better. Soon he was in the first pack in Ironman, then soon he was leading the swims and every body could see who it was because of his straight bowling arm! Stephen was now swimming 47 minutes not 55 minutes, and was no longer in the 3rd pack of ITU races, but in the lead pack. He beat all the young ITU Brits out of the water.
The irony being when the federation coaches who got rid of him, suggested that if he worked on his technique, (which in their eyes currently looked awful) he could be the best swimmer in Britain. They still didn’t get it.
With swimming we must not lose sight of the fact that we are training for triathlon – and that we race in a wetsuit most of the time. Get the paddles on, pull buoy between your legs and get after it. To quote Bella:
‘I used to spend an hour and a half fussing about, trying to do all the perfect technique things in the water, gliding and stretching. It was paralysis by analysis! But once I just got in, got on with it, and just thought about nothing more than putting on the gear and giving it to myself, I improved by 15 minutes over 3.8K’.
For our athletes, and for those who have applied our techniques and improved their swim – Hold the Line!
For the coaches out there, if your athletes are improving, then it is working. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it!
Bella Bayliss is a former World Long Course Champion and 16 time Ironman distance Champion. She now runs a successful coaching business from Sands Beach Resort in Lanzarote.
Bella will be teaming up with Head Coach Brett Sutton in early Sept in Lanzarote, running a high performance advance level camp, specifically for those preparing for Kona. Stay tuned for details!
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.
David achieved a new Ironman PB in New Zealand this year.
Ironman champion or bike mechanic?
When Jo Spindler emerged from his workshop with a metal file in his hand, oily clothes, face and hands, it was hard to tell.
It turns out he’s both: In pursuit of the perfect bike for his partner – fellow Ironman winner Diana Riesler – Jo was busy filing a new seat stem, determined to improve her already astonishing performances, having won IM Lanzarote and Malaysia.
For me, this was an excellent sign; The restaurant manager should know how to boil an egg. And I really like the way Jo understands not just what to do, but how and why. For someone like me with a million questions, Jo is fantastic. Here is someone who had competed at the highest level, triumphed, and now tells age group athletes how to do it.
With Jo and Diana in Mallorca
I began competing in triathlons in 2013, starting at Olympic distance, then 70.3. In early 2016, I was training for my first Ironman in Austria later that year. In fact I already had a coach, who sent me daily schedules, but didn’t pay much attention to any other part of my training life. I was looking for someone or something different.
Training with the Trisutto Mallorca Camp was dramatically different. The schedule was demanding, intense, fast and serious. I remember making porridge every morning, because each day felt like preparing for a 70.3 race. I would order a double espresso between sessions, to be sure I had enough energy for the next challenge. I loved it! The fellow athletes were different to those I’d met before. Mostly German and Swiss, several were high caliber, age group winners or Kona qualifiers, but not all. The standard was high, but there was no sense that slower athletes were less valued, everyone was doing their best and Jo was encouraging everyone equally.
Among the many highlights of that camp were the important lessons on swim technique and training (particularly the underwater hand and arm motion), on riding up hills in the big ring, and on whether to shave my legs. ‘Yes!’ said Jo. ‘You’ll save 10 watts.’ On a practical level, ‘Jo-the-bike-mechanic’ gave me and my Cervelo S5 a new set-up which cured my back problems and significantly increased my speed. It was like getting a new, faster bike.
Riding the quiet Mallorquin lanes and spectacular mountain passes with Diana was another treat. It’s always a thrill to train with an elite athlete, to see them at work and learn from them.
Summer Camp in St.Moritz
Later that summer, after completing IM Austria, I signed up for another TriSutto camp, this time in St Moritz Switzerland, run by the group’s founder and head coach Brett Sutton. This time, there were several Trisutto coaches helping us through the sessions. Brett would make a speech about swim, bike or run training, and the other coaches would add their comments and ideas. Then we’d go off and train in the superb mountains above the town.
Among the coaches was Rafal Medak, a London-based Polish triathlete who is one of the world’s best 40-45 age groupers: He’s competed at Kona for seven consecutive years and finished 22 Ironman races. Like Jo, Rafal is a great student of the sport. He has a sharp analytic mind and is always looking for smart ways to improve training, preparation and performance. Soon after the summer camp, Rafal agreed to coach me and we’ve now had more than six months together, including an excellent result at Ironman New Zealand, where I overcame terrible swim and bike conditions to set a new PB.
Meeting up with Andrea and Roberto at various locations around the word!
Meanwhile, some of the people I’ve met through Trisutto have become friends: Roberto and Andrea Cagnati, for example, are also crazy about the sport and love travelling to exotic locations. We’ve met in Phuket, Mallorca, New York and London, always having a run or a swim together, or competing in events.
When I came back to Mallorca this April, a year after meeting Jo and Diana. It was a real pleasure to see them again, to race with Diana at Porto Colom and to train with them at the BEST Center in Colonia Sant Jordi, a few km away from their home in Felanitx.
These days, Jo has shaved off his beard and I’ve not seen any oil on his hands. But his engineer’s mind and his huge passion for triathlon are as sharp as ever. Thanks for welcoming me to the Trisutto family, Jo, I’ve loved every minute.
David Nicholson joined Trisutto in October 2016 and currently trains under Rafal Medak. Since then he has achieved impressive results at IM New Zealand, Laguna Phuket, and Ironman 70.3 Phuket.
Jo Spindler is Trisutto’s Head European Coach and also a multiple Ironman winning coach. He bases his training squads between Spain and Switzerland
Join Jo at his next weekend camp in Sursee, in May.
Rafal Medak is a Trisutto coach based out of London.
Having just completed a serious of camps in Maspalomas, Rafal is currently planning further Camps in St.Moritz over the European Summer.
Coach Rob and Manami at the recent Trisutto Camp in Guam.
Manami Iijima began a string of impressive racing with the Subic Bay 70.3 last month, finishing her first race at that distance in 4:53 and placing 1st in the 25-29 age group, and 5th female outright. Two weeks later at the Guam marathon she finished first in 3:23. Another two weeks later the half marathon, 2nd female 1:28.
It is great being here at camp in Guam to see how well Manami is progressing…she is better than I expected….
Having just completed our 2 day camp here in Guam I am very impressed. The training facilities have been superb, and the campers have been so welcoming and enthusiastic. Thank-you for having me, it has been a pleasure.
Well done to all campers in Guam, a superb 2 days.
Race Recap from Coach Mel Mitchell:
Laura (second from left) and Manami (right) celebrating terrific runs in the recent Guam Half Marathon with their friends.
I would like to congratulate Laura Nadeau on a super personal result in the Guam Half Marathon. Laura came on board with me after completing a 16 Week Trisutto Half ironman Program. Upon its completion Laura raced her FIRST 70.3 distance and surprised herself by coming second and earning a place on the start line for World’s 70.3 in September.
Last weekend, Laura competed in the Guam half marathon. She felt confident going into this race, and really wanted to see what time she could do, so I asked her, “what is your plan?” she said she thought she could run a 1hr.33, holding 4.33 for the first part and dropping down to 4.26’s if feeling good. I thought to myself, hmm, I think closer to 1hr.40 with what her training was showing but who am I to stop her! so I said, get after it, if it all falls apart, don’t worry, we learn more from having a go and failing miserably then going softly and never really knowing!
So with that Laura went out and gave it her all and achieved an amazing 10min PB by running a 1h.36 Half marathon Laura didn’t hit the 1.33 time she was after, but she was extremely happy with a 10min PB!
Well done Laura, I am super excited about training Laura to see how I can help her going into a world championship event. Laura has just experienced the Trisutto philosophies first hand at the Trisutto Guam Training camp with the awesome Rob Pickard over the past 2 days which will only strengthen our coaching relationship and she will come away a better athlete because of it.
Race Recap from Coach Carson Christen:
A confidence boosting win for Jappas to start the year.
2 races, 2 wins on my side!
Jappas Du Preez had his first race of the season in Southhampton, UK, taking to the start line of the Fast Twitch Sprint this last weekend. This was going to be a good test coming off a bit of a naggy running injury about a month ago, and Jappas didn’t disappoint! Coming out of the 400m swim in the top 10, Jappas then moved to 2nd position off the bike, just a few seconds behind the leader, and was able to produce an excellent test of his leg on the run to take the win! The body is healthy again, the training is consistent and now starting to add some volume ahead of the bigger goals this summer. Great work, Jappas!
Bill Knoedel raced the season opening Elkhart Time Trial Series in Iowa, USA. Not only was Bill able to take the win, but also set a huge 30sec PR over 12km at the first race of the year! With smart and consistent training on the turbo this winter, using a Reverse-Periodization Approach, with low mileage, Bill has already shown he is stronger than ever before! Great job, Bill!
Race Recap from Coach Edith Niederfriniger:
A great test race for Andrea in Cannes.
After knee surgery in December, Andrea Cattabiani (M40-44),was back into regular run training for just a few weeks, but the healing process was excellent and so we decided to give it a go: Cannes International Triathlon! The race has great reputation, beautiful courses and especially the bike course is very though with over 1300+ climbing. Race distance is 2 – 95 – 16km and Andrea finished in 5:44.47 putting together a very constant effort in all three disciplines. So we are very happy with this first test and looking forward to the next races.
Race Recap from Coach Andrew Wright:
Proud coach with his charges in Morocco; Well done Team!
Congrats to Oscar Coggins and James Tan; 24th and 27th at Morocco ITU in the elite men. Boys went fantastic against a stacked field of European athletes. When we bring more intensity into the programme next month they will fly. Full results at this link: http://www.triathlon.org/results/result/2016_rabat_atu_sprint_triathlon_african_cup/308670
Race Recap from Coach Mat O’Halloran:
A run to be proud of! Congratulations Jong. Photo Credit: Leimomi Pacursa
This past Monday, at the 121st edition of the world-famous Boston Marathon in the USA, top Filipino age grouper Jong Sajulga was in action, competing in his 2nd consecutive Boston marathon. After a solid run focus block, with little racing, Jong once again executed his race very well, and accomplished his target, of running sub 2h50, more specifically, 2h48:56. This resulting in a ~5 minutes PR, established here in Boston last year.
This result is very encouraging for Jong who has been steadily and gradually making progress, over the past few years. Running each of his 4 marathons, slightly faster than the previous. Now, this makes the rest of the triathlon season very promising!
Congratulations to all our athletes competing this weekend.
Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.