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The development of a coaching philosophy

We are now at the last two blogs of our swim history and subsequent development of Trisutto’s philosophy of swimming for triathlon performance. This blog is more a history of my swim education, as a young teenage budding swim coach. The influences, strokes and how these great swimmers have all impacted on our triathlon program; helping many to overcome their swim difficulties. The great Shane Gould Australia 11 world records Olympics 1972 - 3 gold,1 silver,1 bronze Nobody saw the best of this fantastic swimmer as Shane had retired by her 17th birthday. Shane at one stage held every world record from 100m to 1500m, an extraordinary feat that has yet to be equaled. She also won the Olympic gold medal in 200m individual medley. She could do it all. Her swim stroke was two beat kick as are all in this blog series. She breathed on both sides and was the innovator for the next generations of champions.

Shane gets a mention here for two reasons:

1) I use her name to combat all the athletes that get ‘expert advice’ that you can’t sprint using two beat (I also point out that Sippy Woodhead swam 56 secs for 100m, and 1 min 58 sec for 200m back in 1978, all two beat). 2) I was fortunate to watch Shane train when I was 14 as a birthday present from my mother and father who were also swim coaches. We travelled and watched her train at the Carlisle club in Ryde Sydney. As she tagged along at the back of the lane during a set of 100s, I still remember thinking ‘I don't see anything special’. But the coach said OK watch this ‘Shane finish the last 5 off please’. The shock for me, like watching a hydofoil, she just came up on the water like a phoenix and peeled off 5 sub 64 sec repeats. It was one of three blinding swim sets I have been on deck to witness.

I’m sure Shane Gould lit the fire of my swim coaching career, and has always been the swimmer that inspired me to follow my development as a full time swim coach. More recently, after decades out of the water, Shane returned for a cameo at world masters setting multiple records in the 40+ age categories.

Tim Shaw USA 4 world records 3 x World Champion 1975 200,400,1500 Olympic silver 1976 400, 1984 Water Polo Tim burst on to the men’s scene just after Shane. He went on to also hold every world record from 200m through to 1500m in a 5 year period of utter dominance. Tim introduced me to what the triathlon world calls toys - paddles, pull buoys, bands or tubes. He used them for copious amounts of his training. It was his coaches innovation that had not been used at such large amounts before. Steve Holland Australia 12 World Records World Champion 1973 1500 Olympic bronze 1976 1500 Steve was in my opinion the greatest distance swimmer of all time. But for a very different reason. Steve had a very slow 100m personal best. Most of the others listed in our series were seriously fast over the 100m, thus their differential cruise speed over distance was much larger. Meanwhile Steve was the man that could hold his speed over distance much closer to his best 100m time. Thus his staying ability to be a true distance swimmer was amazing, from 1500m to 20km his drop off was incredibly minimal. He was the ultimate distance animal. Steve used a two beat bouncy hip movement that would have been perfect for triathlon. Steve also had the unique experience of having 3 of Australia's greatest swim coaches in his Arsenal. Started by his father, he moved to Harry Gallagher, who was in the 60s the coach of the great Dawn Fraser. He then went to Laurie Lawrence, the trainer of Olympic gold medalist Jon Sieben and of course many others. He then went on to Bill Sweetenham who also trained the great Tracey Wickham. What a lot of people don't know is ‘Outback Bill’ after being Australia's head coach moved to Great Britain, and dragged them kicking and screaming from a swimming back water to the power house of swimming that they are today. Last but definitely not least is Michelle Ford Australia 2 x World Records Olympic Gold 1980 800 Olympic bronze 1980 200 butterfly Olympic gold medalist and one time 800m world record holder. You haven't been introduced to Michelle until now as it is personal, her technique was classical two beat again like all others in this series. I was blessed with actually training Michelle in the latter part of her career. She gave me insights that I use today with my champions. Watching and observing her deal with sport, family and life, was truly not just educational but inspirational. This lady showed me the qualities of a true champion, in good times and bad. Her resoluteness had a profound effect on my career. ‘This is what a true champion thinks like, handles herself like, under extreme circumstances.’ Michelle Ford gave me the knowledge first hand of what my future to be champions must aspire to, for that I’m truly grateful. Just the way I see it.

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