Friday, December 18, 2009

Swimming, Canadian-style!

Dear Swimmers


Just before you all slope-off for a great Christmas and New Year break after our last session on Saturday 19th December (and re-commencing on Monday 4th January with the schedule as per: ), I just thought you might find a couple of my musings on the quirks of swimming in Canada somewhat amusing given that we are rotating between 4 council-run pools here. I don’t wish to offend or seem in anyway ungrateful (especially as our next stage of our trip is the U.K where we’ll be lucky to even get a bath in nevermind a swim!) and I apologize now to Mishy for posting this, but it was just too good to let it slip by!


Every country has their fare-share of swimming pool “quirks” (none as much as the UK!), but whilst training over here in Canada, these are some of the most amusing ones which make you realize just how good we have it in Perth. So, the next time it’s 2 degrees warmer / colder at Claremont than normal or you have to share a world-class 50m lane with more than one other person, spare a thought for your Canook-brothers and sisters over in the Great White North:


1. It is illegal to go for a swim in Ontario without prior showering with soap and warm water in the facility’s change-rooms. According to legislation 565/90, Ontario Provincial Law demands that no swimmer shall enter the pool without first having cleansed themselves. If any swimmer is caught not doing so this is punishable in a court of law and further action may be taken against the facility management for not enforcing this. I am deadly serious about this – can you imagine me enforcing this at the Claremont Pool at 5.30am on a wet and cold July morning?! No, didn’t think so!


2. Whilst it is customary for most pools to open at 6.00am for Early Bird lane lap swimming and to actually let swimmers into the facility 10 to 15 minutes beforehand to get changed in readiness for the pool lifeguards being ready (good), swimmers are actually kept behind a sophisticated cage-wall to block them from entering the pool deck area until exactly 6.00am (bad). In pools where this cage has not yet been fitted, swimmers stand about on pool deck looking anxiously from one to the other like racing drivers on the start grid until such time that the lifeguard gives the signal to get in. This is usually that of resting their empty cup of Tim Horton’s vanilla-flavored coffee by their lifeguard chair and shouting “let’s get going, eh?!”


3. Despite all the pools that we have swum in measuring exactly 25m x 15m (i.e. standard regulation for a 6-lane 25m competition pool), only two lane ropes are ever used, even in lap swimming sessions. These two lane ropes evenly divide the pool into three thirds and yet swimmers are instructed to still swim as though six lanes were present. This causes a  huge amount of confusion and frustration as each lane alternates between clockwise and anti-clockwise in direction. Collisions are inevitable and par for the course. What is doubly frustrating is that there are always three other lane ropes laying on the side of the pool just screaming to “Use me! Use me!”


4. The lap clocks in all the pools we have visited have not one clock hand (i.e. one on the “0” and the other on the “30”) but two, neatly dividing the clock into four quarters. In all fairness these are color-coded, however, being approximately half the size of Australian pool clocks make them extremely difficult to read and interpret, even with my 20/20 X-Ray Vision Speedo googles. Good job we are armed with our trusty Wetronomes!


5. It is customary for all swimmers to totally ignore the signs allocating “fast”, “medium” and “slow” and just randomly jump in any old lane as they see fit. This, I don’t need to tell you, is incredibly frustrating!


6. It is $5.67 (plus tax) to swim for one hour at these pools. The tax thing is the bane of my life – why-o-why can’t they just add it and tell you the real cost of each session (for your reference this works out to be $6.05) – it’s not like anyone is asking for a receipt to claim their GST and PST back from a lowly early-morning dip!


7. Every pool is kept at a lovely (not!) 31 to 32 degrees celcius with a poolside surround lacking any airflow whatsoever and maintained at what must be at least 45 degrees celcius. Forget the showering legislation and the risk of spreading Cryptosporidium this way, I’d suggest lowering the temperature in the pool by 5 degrees and the pool surround by at least 15 and these bugs will stand no chance.


To cap it all off, after this morning’s “Fresh & Fruity” session I was accosted by one of the local swim coaches as I exited the pool wanting to know what or who my swim cap was (“Swim Smooth”), who I trained with, where I’m from, how many names could I drop in the swimming world and was this even half of the number he could (!), how much FINA sucked, how every other country apart from Canada was doping their athletes and was I aware that he had been coaching for at least forty thousand years before I was even conceived? I wasn’t even coaching when he saw me, just having an enjoyable swim and minding my own business! The funniest thing was that he was so insistent that he have my full name (presumably so that he could look me up and check on my credentials?), and yet when I asked him at the end of the very long and tedious conversation what his full name was he just responded with “Chuck*…Coach Chuck…you can call me Coach!”. OK, “thanks Coach!” I said as I walked off, vowing never to engage eye-contact again with anyone on a Canadian pool-deck who looked remotely like a coach.


*the “part-names” have been changed to protect the innocent!


Finally, last year I posted some “Christmas Fitness Survival Ideas” at:


…so if you’re struggling for a few ideas, please check them out if you’re wondering what to do to keep fit over the 2-week holiday period. NB. A few of the links on that Blog aren’t available any longer, but the general plan should be useful for you!


Cheers and have a great Christmas everyone!


Coach ;-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Update to timetable for this week!


Two errors in the timetable sent out yesterday - apologies:

1. There WILL be a swim session at 9.30am on Friday 18th December with
Ceinwen despite me missing it in yesterdays blog. This was purely an
oversight on my behalf.

2. Apparently there is a swim race next Saturday from Scarborough to
Trigg at 8.30am which clashes with the proposed 6.0km swim that we had
down. Therefore I suggest potentially doing the race and then swimming
back to Scarborough as a cool down. This should give you roughly 5km
plus a bit extra with the warm up and cool down.

Hope you are all enjoying training with the new coaches.



This Weeks Training

Dear Athletes


I hear on the grape vine that it’s been 38 degrees there this weekend – phew! A stark contrast to what we have had over here in our first few days in Canada – minus 6 degrees, snow and a wind-chill factor of minus 15 – ouch! Still, all is going well and it’s great to catch up with Michelle’s family and friends and show off the little guy!


We released our UK Swim Smooth Clinics yesterday and all but one of them is fully booked within 12 hours – amazing stuff and very encouraging…our Windsor Clinic on Saturday 9th January actually filled within 30 minutes of being released to the public! These Clinics are effectively a 1-day workshop where 12 swimmers can attend a full day of video analysis and stroke correction with myself and Adam and some of our other UK-based Swim Smooth coaches. They are lots of fun and very engaging for the swimmers.


So, this week is the last week of training before a 2-week lay-off over Christmas, resuming again on Monday 4th January. Here’s what we have in-store this week:


Monday 14th December:


7am = technique swim session with Shelley Taylor-Smith


9.30am = low-key endurance set with Ceinwen Williams


Tuesday 15th December:


5.30am = low-key endurance set with Nicola Holmes & Adam Mullens


6.30am = low-key endurance set with Adam Mullens & Nicola Holmes


6.15pm = low-key endurance set with Adam Mullens


Wednesday 16th December:


5.30am = endurance set perfect for Rottnest swimmers with Ceinwen Williams


9.30am = Fresh & Fruity session with Ceinwen Williams


Thursday 17th December:


6.00am = open water skills session at Cottesloe Beach with Adam Mullens


Friday 18th December:


5.30am = Fresh & Fruity session with Nicola Holmes & Adam Mullens


6.30am = Fresh & Fruity session with Adam Mullens & Nicola Holmes


4.30pm = Rottnest Solo Squad session at Claremont Pool (Session # 1 from the Monster Sets = 7.5km)


Saturday 19th December:


6.00am = 3h30 Freeway south ride – a great one for those getting in some miles for the Busselton Half Ironman in May 2010. If this is your first ride back for a while, limit yourself to just 2h00 with a short run off the bike. Meet at the Bell Tower.


8.00am = 6.0km ocean swim at Trigg Beach (meet at the SLSC tower at 7.50am) and then swim south for 3.0km (just past Scarborough Beach, see: )


1.00pm = open water skills session at Claremont Pool with Shelley Taylor-Smith to see you off into the Christmas break with a bang!


Sunday 20th December:




From all of us here at The TEAM CORE, we’d like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!








Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That's all folks!


Just a quick note before we head off to the airport to catch a flight to Canada for 2 weeks of skiing, egg-nog and roast moose - I just wanted to say thank you all for a superb 2009! It has been a real pleasure coaching every single one of you and seeing how you've all been improving and enjoying the various sessions that we offer! It started off as quite a nervous year (being the first full year in operation and not knowing quite how it would all go) and then with the birth of little Jackson etc etc, but through your support and commitment to the squad we have been able to develop something really quite special at the Claremont Pool and I look forward to making it even bigger and better in 2010!

Whilst away we might email out the occasional photo from our trip so you can see what we're up to and contrast your boiling temperatures with our freezing climes - brrrr!!!

So, this week is a great week to be down at the pool and ocean learning some new stuff and new ideas from all the new coaches that we have in operation. As a reminder, here's who's on and when:

Tuesday 6.15 PM = Adam Mullens taking you through a long aerobic set as per earlier this morning.

Wednesday 5.30 AM = Ceinwen putting you through your paces with a 1.5hr endurance set and again at 9.30 AM Ceinwen will take you through our Fresh & Fruity Session.

Thursday 6.00 AM (Cottesloe Beach) = next up is Adam Mullens together with 7-time world marathon swimming champion, Shelley Taylor-Smith who will be taking you through some tips and techniques to swim better into and out of the waves - it'll be heaps of fun and who better to learn from than arguably the world's best ever open water swimmer!

Friday 5.30 & 6.30 AM = sharing the load in our Fresh & Fruity Session will be Nikki Rogers (Commonwealth Games bronze medallist) and the ever-strong Adam Mullens (3rd session this week!). Ceinwen will be back later at 9.30 AM to take you through a relaxing technique set. 4.30 PM will be the SOLO swim session (please refer to your Master Plan for this - it's Week # 6 from the Monster Session program - a cruisey 5.0km).

Saturday 6.00 AM = meet at the Bell Tower for a 67km ride out and around Kalamunda (~3h30). 8.00 AM = swim at Cottesloe Beach (max of 4.0km) and then at 1.00 PM = Shelley and Ceiwen will be teaming up for an afternoon of fun open water technique work in the pool!

Sunday = Champion Lakes 2.5km, 5.0km or 10.0km swimming event. Highly recommend SOLO swimmers with some good distance under their belt already to give the 10.0km a go (as this then takes some of the pressure off in January to qualify), but if you haven't yet swum over 8.0km, suggestion would be to build a little more base first and then tackle the 10.0km in January. If you do the 10.0km, don't worry about times, just get into  good rhythm, enjoy yourself and keep well fuelled!!!

Over and out!


P.S I am so sorry but I inadvertently missed John Annear's Busselton Ironman results from the weekend - sorry John, especially given he placed 2nd in his age-group and qualified again for Kona - nice work!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ironman WA 2009 Results


Here are the collated results from yesterday's Busselton Ironman: was absolutely stinking hot yesterday and it looked like most of the field (including the PROs) really struggled on the run component - so if you got through and completed the event you should be very pleased with yourself indeed!

Big shout out to Russell Cox and Chris Domoney who both came 2nd in their respective age-groups and have no doubt scored a place in Hawaii 2010. Also, another big well done to Louise Jones who (6 months ago) was really struggling with her swimming and wasn't sure if she'd complete the distance of 3.8km - she did that (and more!) in 1:19 - so awesome effort there!

Well done to everyone - that was a hard, hard day!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Blue Seventy Suits

Dear Swimmers

Many of you have been trying (unsuccessfully) to get hold of one of the Blue Seventy swim suits for the Rottnest Channel Swim in February. Blue Seventy have apparently been snowed under with demand for this great suit and supply has been very short. I wore one in my Solo swim this year and it was fantastic, hence the reason I am more than happy to advocate their benefits and more importantly where to get one. 

The "Swimmers World" shop at 208 Cambridge Street in Wembley have just managed to get five suits in (out of a requested 20!) of various sizes in male and female fittings and also in the short or long-leg versions. If you want one get down there as soon as you can or give them a call on 9382 4483 as they will go very quickly. Don't miss out!

Hope this helps!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Training this weekend and Ironman Preview

Dear Athletes

I hope you are all enjoying this warmer weather! Its tipped to be 38 this weekend I believe which should make things interesting for the Ironman down in Busselton. More on that in a moment!

PAYG Session Cards: Just a quick reminder that if you are running low on credits to encourage you to purchase your PAYG cards online at or in cash / cheque ("The TEAM CORE") prior to my departure for our holiday next Tuesday so that I can issue you one in time.

I am trying to streamline the whole process for the new coaches whilst I am away and as such your support on this matter would be much appreciated. Remember, we have a 2 week break for Christmas from the 20/12/09 to 3/1/10 (inclusive, restarting on the 4/1/10), so there is effectively 2 weeks of training before and after the Christmas break when I will not be around. I have set-up the coaches with the facility to issue cards if absolutely needs be, but we'd prefer if you could pre-purchase before I leave. Thanks in advance.

Training this weekend: There are a few big events on this weekend (the Swim Thru Rottnest & the Busselton Ironman) but whilst that might mean slightly quieter sessions, these will all still proceed. So:

Friday - AM - all sessions, 5.30am, 6.30am & 9.30am as normal

Friday - PM - 4.30pm session for Rottnest Solo and DUO swimmers - have a crack at the 4k, 3k, 2k, 1k set from the "Monster Sessions" list. Make sure you hydrate and fuel very well indeed on this. Keep you effort steady and consistent with breaks between sets of 2 mins being for fueling purposes. If your longest session so far is just ~5.5-6km please do a max of 8km today, i.e. 4k, 3k, 1k.

Saturday - AM - 6.00am ride around the river from Cottesloe Beach car park. 8.00am steady swim down to north Cottesloe and back (Solo swimmers to do Rottnest Swim Thru if possible - it's a great event!).

Saturday - PM - 1.00pm squad swim session at Claremont Pool. Wahey, 1.00pm!!! Hope you can make it!

Busselton Ironman:

We have a range of athletes racing this weekend at the 6th Busselton Ironman. Conditions look set to be tough with highs of ~34 and strong winds forecast - this will make for a strong and determined athlete's course I suspect. Hydration will be of the utmost importance. Many of the athletes below are doing this distance for the first time (good on them!), but one of the athletes whom I have been advising with his swim training (Petr Vabrousek from the Czech Republic) will be making this his 85th outing at this distance - simply amazing! Let's wish them all well:

  • Petr Vavrousek (Male PRO) - Czech Republic
  • Karol Dzalaj (Male PRO) - Slovak Republic
  • Kate Bevilaqua (Female PRO)
  • Michael Bowles (M 45-49) - Ironman Virgin
  • Graham Crocker (M 60-64)
  • Christopher Domoney (M 60-64) - UK, one of the guys responsible for getting me into triathlon back in 1994!
  • Tracey Edwards (F 35-39) - Ironman Virgin
  • Kirsti Hansen (F 40-44) - New Zealand - Ironman Virgin
  • Paul Heyes (M 45-49)
  • Tony Highfield (M 50-54)
  • Michael Hodgson (M 45-49) - Ironman Virgin
  • Matt Howes (M 30-34) - Ironman Virgin
  • Desmond Jennings (M 35-39)
  • Louise Jones (F 35-39) - Ironman Virgin
  • Ian Lane (M 45-49)
  • Paul McQueen (M 45-49) - Ironman Virgin
  • Daniel Palko (M 30-34) - Slovak Republic
  • Malcolm Rose (M 35-39) - United Arab Emirates (attended our last Swim Smooth Clinic in Windsor, UK)
  • Daniel Tarborsky (M 25-29) - Ironman Virgin
  • Dan Timbers (M 30-34)
  • Luc Tournier (M 35-39)