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Kevin: Welcome to the triswimcoach podcast. This is Kevin and this is episode 32. I’ve got a few things in store today that I wanted to cover the idea of being focused and also go over some listener questions and also an announcement which is actually kind of a late announcement. I’ve already announced it on my blog and through email if you are on the newsletter list, but I’ll go ahead and talk about that towards the end of the show.

I was thinking about this idea of focus. I’ve been doing a lot of these natural movement workouts, and if you haven’t heard of natural movement just Google it or go to the website I’ll put that in the show notes as well. It’s a great workout; kind of a free flowing workout that you can do by yourself of with other people and it’s basically taking advantage of your cerebral surroundings and trying to kind of emulate what we were meant to do as humans in nature, in a natural environment. Ideally you would have trees and logs and rivers and things like that to work with, but a lot of us live in urban areas so taking advantage of your surroundings may be more like going out to a park and using some of the playground where there are swings and you can do push-ups and upright rows and jumps and balance exercises and things like that.
I’ve been doing this once a week with a group here in Austin and we’ve been just kind of exploring nearby parks and just going with whatever is there. Some of the exercises have included rock throwing. Picking up heavy rocks and passing them back and forth; throwing them. Then doing things like sprints, pull-ups, there have been pull-up bars at various places. Climbing trees and things like that. It’s not going to be a workout that is necessarily structured to the point where you can measure your results although I’ve been able to do that a little bit in the past few weeks because we’ve been going back to the same place and done some similar exercises. The fun part is the variety of exercises and it never gets boring and it’s very fast. I’m done with these workouts in 20 minutes, 30 minutes at the most and feel great afterwards.
Where this idea of focus came from was I was doing some balancing exercises on a, there was a balance beam at this one park, and it’s sort of a gradual slope that goes up to a height where if you fell you might get hurt so a ton of concentration and focus has to be put on each step you make on this thing. There’s little ridges so you can put your feet in them and I think it’s a great exercise. I was doing it lower, more close to the ground pulls and things like that and then working my way up to this and it’s one of those things where you kind of get into a zone and really time just kind of stops and you are just on that one step and I think that’s what’s really cool about natural movement and also with triathlon and especially with triathlon swimming because when you’re doing the balance drills, similar to balance on land, although if you make a mistake in the water your consequences aren’t going to be as severe most likely.

If you are doing those balance exercises in the water like the shark fin drill and just kicking on your side, your concentration is pretty much going to have to be full on with what you’re doing. There’s not a lot of day dreaming and thinking about work and bills and what’s for dinner and things like that so it’s a great thing. That’s one thing I really like about triathlon and swimming and these kinds of exercises. If you are interested in mixing up this winter kind of doing some more cross training which I think is a really good thing to do for triathletes because most of the year is spent doing one of three disciplines plus strength training plus stretching and all that goes along with that and I think it’s really good to get out and do other things. If you are looking for something else to do this winter, and this podcast and I’ll have the video and a link to that website that I mentioned earlier.

I’ve got some listener questions that have been rolling in and if you do have any questions for me I’d love to hear from you. You can just send me an email directly at and I’ll get to them on the show and try to respond to as many of them as possible.

The first one is from William Martin and he says Kevin what school of thought do you teach about the head position for triathlon freestyle? Some say look five feet in front of you and some say look straight down. I’m using the rotation method you suggest. I have purchased To Swim Smooth Clean Up Your Stroke and they say your head position which I interpret as somewhere in between. I’m trying to get my drills centered around rotation and good bi-lateral breathing. Thanks William.
My answer to this is he’s got it pretty much right. You want to focus on looking down at the bottom of the pool but sometimes that gets over exaggerated and people tend to push their head to far down and then they create drag and things like that. I would say that moderate point, middle point is fine. If you are doing more sprinting, sprint freestyle, this isn’t going to be nearly as important as a mile in open water. If you are doing a sprint 100 yard freestyle, and your head is up looking straight forward, it really doesn’t affect you that much, but if you are doing that in a mile race in the open water, you’re going to be putting in so much more effort to do the same thing because your hips are naturally going to start sinking and you’re going to be using that extra effort just to keep on top of the water.

You can kind of experiment with it too. I don’t like to say one size fits all but just in general you want to look down at the bottom of the pool. If your head is going to be a little bit up or a little bit further down that should be fine.
The smooth stuff is great. I’ve checked it out. I like it. I would say use both triswimcoach and swim smooth if you are going to do a triathlon and you’ll probably be in pretty good shape for your race.

The next one is from Kelsey Raina who is also a member with our triswim secrets program and I’ll also have an announcement on that soon too. I’m not going to talk about that yet but in the next couple of weeks we are going to be reopening triswim secrets because some people have kind of graduated and we’re ready to bring on some new people so I’ll talk about that soon. If you stay tuned on the newsletter I’ll also be sending information out on that also so that’s just and you can sign up and you’ll get five free online swim lessons as well. Kelsey says, about a year ago I was working hard on flip turns and I finally gave it up for a couple of reasons. The main reason was I had to hold my breath so long during the flip that I felt very winded trying to swim a lap after that. I also felt that I never really felt I was doing it right and I wasn’t pushing off on my back, I was turning on my side before I had completely flipped. I also got water up my nose all the time no matter how much I tried to exhale through my nose during the flip. I really would love to be able to do them since my open turns suck. Any suggestions? Thanks, Kelsey.

This takes some time. Flip turns are not something that comes automatically or easily for anyone that I’ve seen. I know when I was doing them as a kid I remember that feeling of getting all that water up my nose and it’s really hard to not have that but the more you can practice the less that’s gonnahappen where it’s all automatic so my answer. I said”
Hi Kelsey. What you described in terms of flip turns is very common. It takes a while to get. I think it’s important to set small goals. Just do four or five clip turns in a workout. Then increase that number as you get more comfortable. It’s unreasonable to expect to go from open turns to flip turns overnight.

I did a video on how to do flip turns in the member area on triswimsecrets and I kind of explained how to go about that and there’s also another video if you go to and you just do a search on flip turns, there is a video on flip turns as well. It’s really good. If you are a member check the member site, if not go to and go and watch that video.

Flip turns is really hard to explain over a podcast here but basically it’s just broken down into steps and once you start to get how to flip then you are just flipping and you’re pushing off on your back and that’s the first way to start. And then you start to push off a little bit more on your side and then pretty soon you’re pushing off on your side and you’re kind of flipping onto your stomach as you are pushing off. I know it sounds really complicated but it’s really just a matter of breaking down into these steps and then practicing it. And again once you learn don’t start practicing it on every single wall that you come across because you’ll get tired and discouraged really quickly. I think it’s really important for triathletes to learn the flip turn. I don’t think it’s the first thing you should go about learning but it’s going to simulate more of open water then doing open turns because in open turn you’re getting rest every time you do that. You get extra air. It’s just not as good. It’s sort of like I recommend if you can train on a long course pool 50 meters rather than a 25 yard pool is a better deal. I know a lot of us don’t have access to that, but anyway the flip turn is important. Definitely go ahead and learn it and have some patience.

The last question that I have here is from Graham from Ireland and he says: Hi Kevin. First many thanks for the podcast. I have followed them right from the start and they just keep getting better and better. They are the only swim focused podcast out there and they are very much appreciated.

Well that’s great to hear. Thanks Graham. I’m glad you are enjoying them.
I have a question for you that was prompted following your contribution to the rock star triathlete.
What I think he means is the rock star triathlete academy. I did a call with those guys with Carrie and Ben a few months back and I answered a bunch of questions from their members and we got into some topics.
I have recently joined a swim class with a swim coach who I like. He is fun, knowledgeable, and gives lots of feedback. My issue is that he knows almost nothing about triathlon. He has recommended for example that I change my pull so that I start wide and then pull towards my belly button and then push out the back. He also had me with my head slightly forward rather thenlooking straight down. Am I safe to keep using this guy or should I start looking for a more specific swim coach? Swim is my weakness so it is key I hook up with the right person as I look to focus on swim through the winter. Any tips will be appreciated and keep up the great work. Regards. Graham from Ireland.

My answer I said: Hi Graham. What you described about the pull sound pretty close to accurate actually. Make sure you are keeping your elbows high as you start your pull. It should be slice your hand into the water, extend, bend your elbow, and pull. Head position should be looking down (and we talked about this in the first question). Some of the more advanced swimmers will have a head position looking slightly forward but they are more balanced in the water rather then someone at your level. If you try looking straight ahead when you swim, your hips will sink and you will have to kick harder just to stay at the surface.

That’s sort of my short version of the answer, but as far as his question he says I want to make sure I hook up with the right person as I focus on the swim through the winter, and that is important. If you get somebody that doesn’t know what they’re doing or what they’re talking about it’s going to be that you might get led down the wrong path and you might actually be cementing some bad habits. But liitle things like this I always say head position that you are looking down, it’s not going to make a huge difference like I said at the beginning, a few inches is forward versus looking straight down but some of these things, like if you’re, there are some coaches out there who will teach the pull a certain way this S curve which I don’t think anybody is teaching these days unless they are working for the Red Cross or something, I’m not really sure but there’s things like that that still stick around and they work there way into teaching, swim teaching methodologies but you do want to look out for that. I do have a list of coaches on my website and I can link to that in the show notes but it’s just important that if somebody is involved with a swim team of some kind, they usually know what they are doing. Some of the master’s coaches out there are good. It may not be obvious by the workouts because a lot of times master’s workouts are written on a board and there’s no one really there to provide instruction but if there’s an actual coach on deck, a lot of times they will know what they are doing. You can look at my website, you can look at the masters coaches out there; US Masters also has a list of coaches.

There are a lot of resources for personal swim instruction and that leads me into the last thing I want to talk about on today’s podcast and that is we are having a swim clinic coming up in Irvine, California in January, January 8th, and that is going to be with none other than four time Olympian and gold medalist Shiela Tormina. We are going to put it on together. We are going to be teaching how to swim faster. I know a lot of you out there are listening are interested in not only swimming more efficiently but also faster and that’s going to be the focus in this clinic. We are also going to be the videos like I do in my clinics but we’re going to be spending a lot of time on what it takes to get faster. With Sheila’s help I think this is going to be a home run of a clinic. I think it will be awesome.

We’ve already, unfortunately I’ve already filled up most of the spots so there’s only a few left but if you want to get on the waiting list we’re limiting it at 25 people and if you want to sign up we’ve sold about 17 right now although I’m not sure that might have changed; so if you want to sign up for the clinic, then you need to go to and it will have all the information about everything Saturday, January 8th in southern California and you can check that out. If that’s something you want to do, we might be sold out by the time you get on, by the time this podcast actually airs but there will be awaiting us so like I said they’ll be a waiting list.

If you can’t make it to southern California and you live somewhere else, we’re looking at other locations and other times of the year as well. I’m talking to someone in Atlanta and someone in New York, I think it’s upstate New York about doing a couple more clinics and so if you have any connections with a pool in your area I would love to hear from you because that has been traditionally one of my toughest things is finding a pool that doesn’t charge an outrageous amount that’s available that we can actually use for the clinic. Most of my contacts are mainly in California or Texas. If you do have any clinics and want to see a clinic with Sheila Tormina and myself then go ahead and shoot me an email at and we’ll hopefully work something out.

That wraps it up for today. Stay in touch. Check out the blog and actually if you are on Facebook it would be great to hook up there and just go to our page. It’s just and go ahead and click that like button and we’ll be sending you all the updates. Okay, thanks for listening to the show. I hope you’re having a great Thanksgiving week and I hope you’re having a great week of training and we’ll talk to you soon.