Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prevent / cure shoulder woes in time for the 2011 WAtoday Rottnest Channel Swim!

Dear Swimmers

Please be advised that the Rottnest Channel Swim Association will be running a free seminar / information evening at Challenge Stadium on the 17th August from 7.30 to 8.30pm. I have been invited back for the third year to discuss shoulder injury concerns for swimmers and what to do to correct them from a technique point of view. This is an area that I have much experience in and it will be a pleasure to speak again for the RCSA in a few weeks time. Full details if you're keen on attending are below:

Planning to Swim in Rotto's 21st Event?

If you're thinking about swimming solo in the 21st Rottnest Channel Swim, then this FREE informational seminar will help you plan everything for the big day.

From a training program, to nutritional preparation, and an achievable race plan, this seminar is open to all prospective swimmers of the 2011 WAtoday Rottnest Channel Swim.

It will provide useful information for those swimmers who've always wanted to enter this event but haven't quite been ready. It will be an excellent session for those swimmers who want to partake in a Team or Duo, or progress to the Solo category of the event for the first time.

New Rottnest Channel Swim Association President Raymond Yong is delighted to present this seminar as his first official function for the Association.

"This event is such an iconic and important part of WA's calendar, and I would urge all prospective swimmers to attend this seminar to gather as much information as possible about what to expect out there in the ocean, and how to best prepare," he said.

Past and present Rottnest channel swimmers will discuss their experiences, their mistakes and their tips, which will provide invaluable information to novice swimmers of this incredible event.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday 17 August at the Lecture Theatre at Challenge Stadium from 7.30 – 8.30pm.  Registrations are essential at

Hope to see some of you there!



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Riding on Wednesdays


Just a quick note to say that there is still a hardy bunch of riders
meeting at 5.50am every Wednesday morning at the bottom of Mount
Street in the city adjacent to Bouchard Cafe. Usually back by 730am
ish this ride is done as a group warm up followed by some individual
intervals or a few hill repeats. If you're looking for a group to ride
with, why not pop along and give it a go.

Stay dry!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Reminder that Saturday 1pm Swim is Back On!

Dear Swimmers

Funnily enough, from all reports, about a dozen of you actually turned up last Saturday to swim at 1pm which is twice as many people as we've seen the last month or so! Sorry I wasn't there - we'd cancelled that one in anticipation of very small numbers given that it was the last week of the school holidays. C'est la vie!

OK, so just confirming that this Saturday at 1pm the open-water skills and technique session will be on in the Outdoor 8 lane pool at Challenge. This session is one that is loads of fun (my personal favourite), nice and challenging, experiments with new things like drafting and sighting etc, and actually benefits by having a larger number of swimmers down than the other sessions to make some of the exercises work better.

So please do try and make it if you can and if you have any other openwater friends or triathletes who would be keen to give it a blast, please invite them down also - it'll be a great hour in the pool!



P.S This session will continue to run on a weekly basis again now (subject to numbers of course). Thanks for your support and understanding.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Awesome 20% Off August Analysis Offer!

NEWSFLASH! And the winner of the Finis SwiMP3 underwater music player was...Adam Wheeler from the 5.30am Tuesday / Thursday squad sessions! Well done Adam. David Fitzpatrick pulled your name out of the hat at the start of this morning's 6.30am session. In total we received feedback from 59 of you which will hopefully help us to further improve our swim coaching services for you all! Thanks once again everyone - it's been a very useful process!

Dear Swimmers

I have a very special offer available to those of you swimming with the squad for the month of August only:

  • A 75 minute 1-2-1 Video Analysis & Stroke Correction Session for $120, saving a massive $45 off the standard rate! Bargain!

This is our absolute premium coaching service and your chance to have your stroke filmed above and below the water, critiqued on the computer screen for what you need to be working on to improve efficiency and why, with the remainder of the session spent in the water tweaking and refining your stroke based upon this analysis. Each swimmer will receive their video footage to take home with them on a DVD, as well as a comprehensive 20-page Training Guide based upon our newly released system which is proving extremely popular worldwide at the moment. Full details at:

NB. This offer is only valid for squad members (i.e. you!) and only for sessions taken during the month of August 2010. Pool entry ($5.00) is additional.

Spending some 1-2-1 time with myself is a fantastic way to tune up your stroke and get you on your way to more efficient, faster swimming. Spaces are strictly limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis so be quick! To reserve your spot, please select and pay for the "1-2-1 Stroke Correction Session for $120 (follow-up session)" which is the option on the 2nd row & 4th column of and then email me back with your 3 best sessions from the list below and I'll email you back confirming your place, time and venue. Here are the options:

  • Monday 2nd August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 3rd August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 3rd August, 9.15am (if 7.45am already taken)
  • Friday 6th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 6th August, 10.45am
  • Monday 9th August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 10th August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 10th August, 9.15am (if 7.45am already taken)
  • Friday 6th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 6th August, 10.45am
  • Saturday 14th August, 4pm
  • Tuesday 17th August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 17th August, 9.15am (if 7.45am already taken)
  • Wednesday 18th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 20th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 20th August, 10.45am
  • Monday 23rd August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 24th August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 24th August, 9.15am (if 7.45am already taken)
  • Wednesday 25th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 27th August, 7.45am
  • Friday 27th August, 10.45am
  • Tuesday 31st August, 7.45am
  • Tuesday 31st August, 9.15am (if 7.45am already taken)

Don't miss out on this great opportunity to get your stroke filmed, analysed and then corrected for an absolute bargain price prior to the spring / summer season.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Are you scared to come back to squad training? Don't be!

Dear Swimmers

In last week's feedback I had a number of you state that you were worried about coming back to training as you feared that you'd perhaps lost too much fitness over the winter period. This got me thinking. Back in September 2009 I published an article on the Blog titled "Six Is A Magic Number" where we discussed how six sessions are often needed to make a change to a technical aspect of your stroke that you are working on, or to simply get you back in the flow with your swimming. 

In Malcolm Gladwell's brilliant book "Outliers" he discusses how to become an expert at something you often need to spend 10,000 hours or 10,000 repetitions or 10,000 units of whatever ensuring that the skill is perfected. Gladwell cites how Bill Gates became an expert in the computer programming world by simply having oodles of hours access to computer equipment way before anyone else was really working with computers (that and being just a bit of a genius too!).

So how is this relevant to squad training? Well, I've also just got my backside back into gear and am currently swimming 3 to 4 times per week. It all started two weeks ago, and trust me, it wasn't a pretty sight! I haven't really trained what I would regard as "properly" since our baby Jackson came along 16 months ago, but am now faced with just under 14 months of dedicated training for my English Channel Swim attempt on 5th September 2011. I've been through small doses of "getting back into it again" along the way and did reasonably well with the Rottnest Duo Swim with my wife (Michelle) this last February. I also challenged myself to whether or not I could run for 30 consecutive days with the only premise that each run had to be longer than 3km - not long you might say, but it was enough to get my bum back in gear and I actually ended up doing 64 consecutive days and feeling pretty good for it too! 

Still, there always has to be a starting point for any of these ventures and quite often the first 4 to 6 sessions will arguably feel pretty crummy it has to be said! So given that I'm now 8 sessions into what will be at least 350 for my English Channel Swim (oo er!!), I thought I'd share with you the sensations of what those first six sessions felt like, but more importantly the goals I set myself for those sessions. Quite often the biggest thing holding you getting back into regular sessions is how hard you perceive that those sessions will be - much easier to just roll over in bed and go back to sleep! If we can learn to adjust our goals and expectations of ourselves in those first six sessions you'll find that you're "suddenly" back into the swing of things, and whilst the fitness might still need to catch up, you will at least be started and on a roll of motivation. So, don't panic about the normal content of some of the sessions that we do, just pop down and get the ball rolling like I've done (see below). The first step is always the hardest as they say!

So here are my notes - use them as you will:

  • Session 1. Monday 5th July, 5.30am, Challenge Stadium. Really cold morning today. Decided to join Pete Tanham's Rottnest Solo squad at Challenge - a sure fire way to get me back into the swing of things! Session is normally 1.5hrs and 4.5 to 5km. I can only fit in 60 minutes on a Monday morning, so already I had decided that I wasn't going to push myself too hard. Decided to sit right at the back of the lane and not even look at the pace clock. Aimed to adopt an air of "laziness" to help tame my natural "Arnie" instincts of being very competitive. Did wonders. Shoulders got a little tired after ~2km but just focused on relaxing in the water and not pushing too hard. The set was full of high-powered sprints (a little like our "Fresh & Fruity Thursday" sessions) but I decided to just dial it down a bit and literally just survive for 1 hour. Really happy after the session - not feeling great, but at least I could say that I'd started my campaign!
  • Session 2. Wednesday 7th July, 5.30am, Challenge Stadium. From past experience I knew this was going to be the really tough session. Even after an extended break, your first session back can often feel OK and you can cheat yourself into believing that the lay-off didn't really do you any harm at all. However, just 48 hours after the first session, this 4.5km block including some sustained efforts over 200 to 300m was sure to test me. With my shoulders still a little heavy from the first session, again I had to just tell myself that survival was the name of the game today and that I wouldn't be breaking any world records yet. Survived it and quite surprised that I'd lasted such a long session - very, very slow though!
  • Session 3. Thursday 8th July, 4.30pm, North Cottesloe Beach. I'd agreed (stupidly!) to meet up with Mark Scanlon (3rd place Rottnest Solo swimmer from 2008 and soon to be attempting the English Channel Swim) for one of his late afternoon cold water adaptation swims. We were due to swim in the rough surf (actually, HUGE surf!) at Cottesloe Beach. I love these conditions normally but when I'm lacking fitness and Mark is totally on top of his game, I knew I could be in trouble! It was ~15 degrees and my first thought was not how cold it was, but how totally uncoordinated my arms were - they just didn't feel like mine! I wanted them to do things and be faster and better and more powerful, but they just wouldn't work! I survived the 2km dash down to the groyne and back, but that was me done. Quite despondent that I'd felt so bad and been so slow, but had to tell myself it was only session # 3!
  • Session 4. Saturday 10th July, 5.30am, Challenge Stadium. Mark was doing his "recovery" 10km pool swim this morning so I decided to join him for the first hour with the aim of getting 3km in. As there were only a few of us this morning I decided that I'd really just focus on myself and develop some good rhythm and timing again that I felt I'd lacked in Thursday's swim. To do this I used a Wetronome in the 1000m warm-up set to a pace of 1:32 per 100m. This felt good, and whilst not fast, at least it helped give me a structured goal to work towards and to feel like I was pacing myself well. We then did 2 x 800m + 45s rest where I decided to test myself a little bit, totally unknowing as to whether I'd be able to hold my goal pace of 1:28 per 100m. The irony here is that prior to my Rottnest Solo swim in 2009, this was the pace which I would go on to be able to swim for the entire 20km across to Rottnest! I felt like I'd really accomplished something in this session, despite Mark lapping me on the 2nd 800m AND he "just" doing a 10km recovery swim! That guy is on fire!!
  • Session 5. Monday 12th July, 5.30am, Challenge Stadium. Back with the Solo squad this morning and more focus today on technique. It's funny, but in order to really work on technique you need to at least have some semblance of fitness to support what you're doing. As such, this technique work came at the right time - I'd got myself back into a bit of flow, my confidence was (slowly) picking up, but again I didn't want to push too hard so just did the first hour of their session. At the end of this session I felt quite positive that I would indeed have a good session by # 6 - was I right?!
  • Session 6. Wednesday 14th July, 5.30am, Challenge Stadium. Literally as soon as I hit the water today I knew I was going to have my best session yet. Sometimes you can just feel that - everything feels loose and relaxed and breathing feels easy. My confidence was up and I cannot believe that when Pete said we were going to do a 400m Time Trial today I was actually excited about the prospect of it! Weird, hey?! Dr. Gary Claydon (Caroline from Lane # 1 in the 6.30am squad's husband) expertly led our lane through the 400m and whilst I arguably got a bit of a tow from Gary I was happy to have swum 5'13" for the 400m. I predicted 5'15" (which is nearly a full minute slower than my P.B) but for now it'd have to do and was at least a starting point. A Time Trial is only ever a measure of where you're at right now, so never be afraid to try one and see where you're at - the stopwatch never lies!

Hope this helps get you back into the swing of things too!



P.S My seventh session was a super test - in fact probably the most challenging swim I've ever done on minimal fitness - a 4.5km swim in the Swan River in 13 degrees of water - ouch! It was super cold. We were in for just over an hour, but reality hit home when I realised that I'd be looking for at least another 8 to 9 hours in the water in the English Channel in 14 months time in similar icy conditions. Here's to a load more doughnuts then and a load more miles in the arms!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

No swimming on Saturday

Dear Swimmers

Just a quick reminder that there will be no offiicial squad swim
session tomorrow (Saturday 17th July) at 1pm. This is due to the
school holidays and previous weeks very low attendance. Don't panic
for those of you who love this session - we will resume as normal next
Saturday (24th July) when hopefully a few more people will be around.

Also, just a reminder that there will also be no swimming on Monday
mornings at 7am until further notice. We will be sad to see this
session go but hope to resume it soon.

We will be picking peoples names from a hat at 630am in Tuesday next
week to see who was lucky enough to win the fantastic Finis SwiMP3
player for your kind and helpful feedback last week.

Have a great weekend - we are going for a family fun adventure down in
Bridgetown of all places! Should be fun!



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Will you be this year's Biggest Loser?

Dear Swimmers

Hope you enjoyed this morning's free swim session at Challenge Stadium. It was looking a little grizzly when the 5.30am crew first jumped in, but spirits soon warmed when you all saw the main set! Did you like the format of this morning's 1km Time Trial? I thought the handicapping would offer up a bit of a challenge for every lane and every swimmer - did you find this? I have to make a special commendation to Lane 2 from the 5.30am session - you guys absolutely flew along this morning and I'm sure it won't be long before we see you dip under 16 minutes for a kilometre. Well done!

So, here are the results:

32 people completed the distance in total. Last year we didn't test the 1km time trial until November, so the results I'm comparing you with are essentially winter versus spring / early summer, so it would of course be expected that you'd all be a little off your paces at the moment. Not to worry! The next 10 weeks are going to be focussed on bringing your times down and getting you back into shape - even if you've been out of the pool for a while. We'll re-test on Tuesday 14th September and I've given everyone who swam today a target to aim for on this next swim. Some of those targets will be faster than last summer (if you performed well today and are already close to your best) and some of those targets will be helping you on your way to getting you back on track. I hope this gives you a little impetus for your training. 

I personally hate doing Time Trials, but when you realise that it's only a measure of where you're at now, you can clearly give yourself a goal of where you'd like to be in 10-12 weeks time for example.

Anyway, thanks again for attending - it was good to see all of you down there at the pool today and it wasn't really that bad once you got in the water, was it?!



Monday, July 12, 2010

Free session tomorrow and a couple of cancellations!

Dear Swimmers


Just a quick reminder that owing to the slight mix up with the
session content on Tuesday 1st June 2010 we have decided to offer
tomorrows 530am and 630am sessions entirely for free (except pool
entry of course).

This is in an effort to appease those of you who felt a little
disgruntled over the 3km continuous swim on that day.

I do apologise once again for this minor mistake and hope that you'll
come and enjoy a really great session to get your teeth into tomorrow!


Please note that due to low numbers on the last few Saturdays which
people have cited as being due to the recent holidays and bad weather,
there will be no squad swimming this Saturday at 1pm. We do plan to
resume this session on Saturday 24th July and hope that interest will
be a little higher at that point. Its such a great session that it'd
be a real shame to axe it going forwards. Thanks for your understanding!


Also, please note that I am very sorry to those of you who have
attended the Monday 7am technique session over the last few months,
but we have made the decision to cancel this session until the summer
months when hopefully numbers will pick up and make this viable once
again. Apologies once again - not having a good run of it at the moment!



Friday, July 9, 2010

Feedback Follow Up

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're well! It seems like it's gone from bad to worse with the weather these last few days - it was especially grizzly down on the pool deck this morning at Challenge. Still, it'll be warming up soon enough (hopefully!) and at least the water's lovely and warm unlike what can be said for this picture of me swimming in Dover Harbour last month in just 13 degrees of water - brrrrr!!!!


There is still chance to submit your feedback to us at and be in the running to win a fabulous Finis SwiMP3 player worth $249. Thanks to those of you who have already done this - it's been especially useful for me to go through and whilst I haven't had chance to reply to everyone individually, I would like to collectively highlight a few points that have come up and what I plan to do in order to improve them where I can.

So, here goes - it's long (as usual with this sort of stuff!) but hopefully you like what you read, especially the thing about the FREE SESSION (Point # 3):

1. WEATHER. Obviously not a lot I can do here, however, I have taken a leaf out of my own book as it were and trained twice this week myself at Challenge Stadium at 5.30am and even a very fresh swim at Cottesloe beach last night to put myself in your shoes! The hardest part is simply getting in and that is not always that "simple" admittedly!! Once you're in though, the water at Challenge is just spectacular at the moment, so as long as you can brace that rush from the change-rooms to the pool, then all's good. I know not everyone likes the indoor 25m pool at Challenge (more on that below), but at least you can be assured of consistent "outside" temperatures here and it does at least suit us for the sprint work that we're doing. So, I will keep my prayers going that it'll warm up and in the meantime hope that you might also brave it down to the pool and feel all the more virtuous afterwards for doing so!

2. CHALLENGE STADIUM. I know that it's not Claremont Pool and I know that the extra walk to the change-rooms adds extra time to your day, but let's face it, this is THE best swimming centre in the southern hemisphere (and that's not just me saying that!) and the centre management have done everything possible to smooth our transition up there. When I heard that Claremont was closing and for 6 or 7 months I was immediately filled with panic and was literally facing the prospect of cancelling the entire program for this period. This would have been disastrous for everything that we've worked so hard to build up in the last 2.5 years. I am extremely indebted to Challenge Stadium for their help and assistance in finding us pool space at their centre during this period - they certainly weren't obliged to do so. For this I am very grateful. We haven't got every session that we'd like and we're not always swimming in the pool that we'd like (i.e. Thursday mornings in the indoor 25m pool), but at least we're still able to swim - it was looking like we wouldn't get anything at all there for a while! Claremont have advertised a grand re-opening of the 6th December 2010 for your reference, but for now we either swim at Challenge or we don't swim at all and this would be a shame because at the end of the day the reason 95% of us swim is to keep fit, healthy and enjoy the sport, irrespective of where we're doing it. I could go on about some of the less-than-appealing pools that we used in our recent Swim Smooth Clinic series in the UK as a comparison, but seriously, please don't let the pool change affect your decision to swim.

3. COACHING SUPPORT. I wish to thank each of the supporting coaches for their help and assistance whilst I was away in June. We've had some really good feedback and I thank you for this. If you recall, we invested quite a bit of time and resources with the coaches back in September and October of 2009, training them up to assist whilst I was away over the Christmas period. We elected to use the same coaches again for the June 2010 period and this is a decision which I am very pleased with. Due to time constraints primarily, we did not collectively meet-up us a coaching unit before I left in June for the UK, but I did put out a structured training plan of all the sessions that I wanted to be delivered during that period at each of the sessions. Some of you have mentioned your disdain for the first Tuesday session when I was away - a continuous 3km swim. We actually have two programs from which we operate - an Olympic Distance program and an Ironman Distance program. This particular session was due to be # 17 from the Olympic distance program, but was mistakenly delivered as # 17 from the Ironman distance program. Both were endurance sessions, but I feel you would have all felt the Olympic distance program would have been more engaging as it wasn't continuous and contained some drilling etc. I am going to take full responsibility for this mistake and in order to highlight Nic's and Adam's proficiency as coaches, would like to also state that on this particular morning, the centre staff wouldn't allow Nic in on time (as had been arranged) to get things set-up as I normally do. When Nic told me of this, I intervened from over-seas and we rectified this small, but important point, for going forwards. Mistakes happen and I'm sorry some of you felt that you didn't get any particular value from this session - I wish to emphasise that it was not a fault of the coaches on pool deck. In order to appease this situation, I would like to offer you a FREE SESSION NEXT TUESDAY 13TH JULY 2010 AT CHALLENGE STADIUM. You won't need your cards, just please pay at the front for your pool entry. We'll do the elusive Session # 17 from the Olympic Distance program and hopefully then all will be good and fair! Sound OK?

4. FUTURE COACHING. I really appreciated your honest feedback with respect to how much you enjoy having me personally on pool deck for your sessions and how this (for some of you) is your primary motivator for attending our squad sessions. This is very flattering. As a coach who has been privileged enough to have worked full-time now in this profession since 2001 and having personally tutored from many other great coaches, I do plan to continue to provide more coaching opportunities to other coaches in Western Australia. I think this is an important part of "sharing the knowledge" and skill base within Australia and is integral for future development. I am not a fan of hoarding "coaching secrets", even if there were such a thing! This is all part of our larger global coaching network program (through and one which has seen over 200 swim coaches worldwide join our official program. This is a huge indicator that we are doing the right thing and the real proof of this was in the feedback from our 3-day Coaches Education Course in the UK and the request from the British Triathlon Federation that we help them evolve their own coaching materials and resources. My commitment to this on a local basis will be to ensure that we source the very best coaches to assist at times when I will be away. Each coach is going to have a different personality and style and I would request that you see this as an advantage rather than as a distraction. What one coach can offer in one area might be vastly superior to what another coach can offer in that same area, but equally vice versa too. Where I feel we could have improved as a program for this last June period of my absence was a pre-June collective coaches meet-up to run through things as before Christmas. Again I take responsibility for not having made this happen with everything that was going on with the stressful switch from Claremont Pool to Challenge Stadium. This is an amendment that I'll make for future trips. It's always a hard call going away and leaving the squad for a few weeks at a time, but we will be doing this going forward. Our next planned trip will be in November as my sister is getting married then too. I really value your patience and confidence in my ability to leave you in good hands when we do. I feel very privileged to be in this position whereby we are getting international requests left, right and centre at the moment through to run Clinics and Coaches Courses, but I do want you to know that I equally have a commitment to providing a great coaching service to you all here in Perth. Without my local squad sessions, my own skills as a coach would not be able to develop. Things such as would never even come into existence if I didn't have the chance to work a large volume of regular hours with a wide-ranging group of swimmers - and this new system is proving to be highly beneficial now for swimmers and coaches all around the world. Equally though, without the prospect of over-seas and inter-state trips, the ability to share this knowledge and skill set would be deflated and also the prospect of picking up further new ideas to enhance our own local program too. So, I do really value your loyalty and commitment to me personally as a coach (like I say, it's hugely flattering), but also want you to know that we are trying to develop a great coaching system too which will collectively raise the standards of swim coaching both locally and worldwide and also therefore impact on you as well.

5. MOTIVATION. Ok, so I think I read the "cards" wrongly about people's interest and desire to learn the other strokes with a view to doing a once-monthly "Mini Olympics". This was only ever designed to be fun, but it seems that it wasn't of much interest, so apologies for putting this out there - we will cancel the remaining two "Mini Olympics" on Saturday 14th August and Saturday 2nd October. However, it does appear that motivation is lacking at the moment for some of you as you quote not having any specific goals to work towards. Last winter we had the 10KM RELAY CHALLENGE in October and also the ITU WORLD LONG COURSE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS in November to keep people's interest over the colder months. My proposal is that we look at putting a similar / same event on as the Relay Challenge and aim for an October time-frame for this. I would like to open this up to you to email me suggestions / ideas before Friday 16th July and we'll go with / develop the most interesting one. We will also bring back the "Biggest Loser" Challenge from last year as this seems to have been very popular, even if it did mean you had to do several Time Trials! Summer is only just around the corner, so getting fit and into shape now will be perfect - at least this is what I'm telling my super-unfit-self right now! LOL! Things such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and now Le Tour de France have all been quoted in people's feedback as also making it difficult to train at the present.

6. LONGER, HARDER SESSIONS. I never thought I'd hear this (but am secretly glad that I have - and from a large number of people!), but many of you are requesting some longer, harder endurance sessions - possibly pegged for a Tuesday morning (and Monday 9.30am). Last year the Wednesday 1.5hr session proved extremely popular but unfortunately this session was one of those we simply could not secure at Challenge Stadium. As such, I'll filter in some of the sets from this session and see how we go from there. As numbers have been low recently, we might look at melding the Tuesday 5.30am and 6.30am sessions together or at least offering the option of those attending at 5.30am to stay in for 1.5 or even 2 hours on the same tick of their card. Before we do this though, I'll work in some of these longer / harder sets first and see how you all cope and equally see how the numbers in the sessions pick up (hopefully!). We'll still maintain that element of technique work in there obviously, but whilst it's chillier, this will at least help you keep a little warmer. And at the end of the day I can always say: "well, you did ask for it!" LOL! Remember the Monday 7am session is also there for working on pure technique work as well.

7. REALLY QUIET SESSIONS. Currently the Monday 7am session, the Monday / Wednesday / Friday 9.30am sessions and also the Saturday 1pm session are VERY quiet indeed and I won't beat around the bush by saying that we're struggling to make these economically viable at the moment. Hopefully it is just the weather, so I'll give it another fortnight or so before we make any drastic changes here. What I will offer though is that if you have a friend or family member who hasn't tried these particular sessions before and wants to pop along, please feel free to bring them down for a courtesy session (free of charge) to see how they like it, and hopefully we'll be able to ensure the longevity of these sessions over the colder months.

8. SATURDAY STRETCH. Saturday's 1pm session is my personal favourite of the week, and as we don't have any sessions preceding it, nor are we waiting for the centre to open, Geoff Wilson came up with the great idea of re-instating our 30mins pre-session stretch routine as a way of increasing the value and enjoyment of this particular session, especially for those of you who ride / run hard in the morning. For this, we'll aim to meet at 12.30pm each Saturday on the grass next to the Outdoor 8 lane pool (when it's dry) or upstairs next to reception (when it's wet). This will commence as of Saturday 10th July and as it's looking wet tomorrow, I'll meet those of you who fancy it just up in the reception foyer and we'll take it from there. Bring a stretch mat if you can or thick towel and some loose, comfortable clothing.

9. ADVERTISING. We've always been fortunate enough to rely on word-of-mouth and a strong online presence and website for ensuring numbers at the sessions, but we shall be looking at advertising the squad sessions at Challenge Stadium in the Western Suburbs paper in the next couple of weeks. It's a bit of a Catch-22 situation really - we need the numbers at the moment for the viability of the squads, but don't want to be inundated too much because I personally believe that the quality in our coaching comes through the restriction on the squad sizes to ~24 people. Again, I'll see how things develop a little in the next fortnight before we take any measures along this front - just wanted to make you aware of this possibility.

10. RE-BRANDING. I mentioned back in May that we're looking to re-brand "The TEAM CORE" into our local "branch" of "Swim Smooth Perth" as I appreciate that we started out as having a good balance between swim, cycle and run sessions, but are now very swim biased with specificity tailored to those of you doing triathlon and open water swimming. This has been an evolutionary change and based on the value that you have expressed on a structured squad swim session versus a coached cycle or run session. I'd love to have been able to have kept all of these sessions going, but the bike and run sessions in particular were substantially lacking in popularity compared with the swimming and thus proving to be economically challenging. I do feel that we need to maintain that air of "team spirit" alive and kicking though and am looking at ways in which we can do this. I think with better advertising and appeal, we can still make programs such as the 16-week Half Ironman program work in January each year. We are, however, in the process of re-branding things to "Swim Smooth Perth" to make things a little less confusing and more inline with the large growth we've seen with Swim Smooth in the last 12 months. I'm all ears on this front, so if anyone has any further feedback they'd like to add to this, then please do so.

11. PRICING. Very few of you actually mentioned this and I'm assuming that you support and understand our need to increase our prices here, especially given the move to Challenge Stadium. I thank you for this. This is not something I wanted to do, but sadly had to do it and I appreciate that you guys do pay a premium to train with us and that we are more expensive than some of the other squads around. We do however absolutely pride ourselves on the attention to detail, quality of coaching and the general atmosphere that we create at The TEAM CORE (/ Swim Smooth Perth!) and want you to know that we will constantly strive to make the squad the very best environment for you within which to train. We also restrict our numbers to ~24 people too - where I used to coach this was unrestricted and often we'd get 60 or 70 people down to a session with just me coaching. The cost of the sessions was $3 per person (now $5 I believe) but I never felt I was able to truly coach to the best of my ability. That is not to say that there is not a place for this style of coaching, merely that what I am doing now is different for this very reason, but equally, more expensive too. I realise and understand that you all have a choice when it comes to where you choose to train and would like to thank you all for your support and commitment that you have shown towards our program in the last 2.5 years. I do sincerely hope you all feel like you get true value for money when you train with us and ask you to let me know at any time if you don't.

Thanks for your time and listening. I do really hope that we can continue to make the squad sessions super fun, friendly and productive for all of you and your feedback is integral to this. Please, never feel like you have to wait until I send out a request to send me something over though - I'm always open to new ideas and suggestions if its something that will benefit others and improve our general program! Have a great weekend.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Win a SwiMP3 Player worth $249 just by giving us your feedback!


My goodness, 16 straight days of sub-5 temperatures! Anyone would think this was England or something! LOL!

I'm hoping you can help me...the last two months have been alarmingly quiet in the squad sessions at Challenge Stadium and I'd like to know what I can do to make things better for you? If it's simply "please can you turn the environmental thermostat up!" I'm sorry but I won't be able to do that personally but can certainly put in a request with the big guy up above if this helps! 

What I am wondering though is whether or not we could be doing things differently or is there something which we can do to make the program more interesting / entertaining for you? This is the lowest our numbers have ever been and given the expenses involved with running some of the sessions at the moment up at Challenge, there are a couple in danger of being *temporarily* axed (as much as it pains me to say that!). 

Maybe it's just the record-breaking cold mornings that are holding people back, but if it's not and there's something I can do to remedy it, I'd love to have your feedback on this. In fact, for every feedback form I receive, your name will go into a hat to win a Finis SwiMP3 Player valued at $249! See for details. Can't say fairer than that! This is an awesome prize to get your hands on, but you have to be "in it, to win it" as they say!

So, please, take 5 minutes to give us your best feedback possible and detail which sessions you plan to be attending between now and December 6th by using the link below:

Please note: due to the very low attendance recently, we are not enforcing any restriction on which sessions you can / cannot attend, this info is just useful for our planning - by all means attend if you can!

The feedback form deadline is Friday 16th July at 5pm (WST). The winner of the Finis SwiMP3 Player will be drawn at random and announced on Monday 19th July.

This feedback is super essential for us and might just make the difference between keeping some of your favourite sessions running and having to unfortunately suspend them.

Hope you can help!