Tim Ballintine is a full-time endurance coach and the owner of Koa Sports. In this episode, he shares about being a coach, finding your passion, not having all the answers and intensity in training.

02:56 Coaching Philosophy
05:30 “You’ve Got To Find What Works For You”
06:17 You Can’t Be All Things To All People
07:01 “It’s Not The Words, It’s How You Say Them”
09:25 “If You Don’t Like It, You’re Not Going To Last Very Long”
10:31 There Is No Cookie Cutter Here
14:48 Swimming As A Barrier To Entry In Triathlon
19:02 Coaching Remotely
20:18 “Don’t Be Afraid To Say That You Don’t Have All The Answers”
24:20 Injecting Intensity In Swimming
31:19 There’s Always Something To Work On

Tim Ballintine
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Transcription:

Brenton:
Welcome to the Effortless Swimming podcast. My guest today is Tim Ballintine, who I’ve known for quite a few years now. And Tim, you are up on the Sunshine Coast up towards Noosa, where you run a camp there every year and you moved up there pretty recently from Melbourne. So, how are you enjoying it up there and welcome to the podcast.

Tim Ballintine:
Thanks Brenton mate. Yeah, it’s been a great move. We’ve been up here on the sunny coast for a couple of years albeit. We were on the Gold Coast for about eight years, mate, so we got a bit of a taste and is probably how I sort of fell into endurance sports to be frank. And then we found out we’re having our firstborn and decided we’d move back to Melbourne to be closer to friends and family and lasted 18 months. Because our lifestyle, it just changed so much, to be frank. Even just the getting up early bit, you know, we moved to the Gold Coast when we were about 20, 21, which is not a bad age to move to the Gold Coast, mind you. But then yeah, just totally, in seven, eight years, which life happens, we just changed our behaviors, our lifestyle and tried to pick all that up and move it to Melbourne.

Tim Ballintine:
I still consider Melbourne where I’m from obviously, but just with work, life, business and all the hats that you wear, it made sense to come back to Queensland and such as the business that I run, you can sort of run it from anywhere. And, we used to come to Coolum Beach for a holiday and so we just picked that we’d live here. It’s kind of like without rubbing it in, but yeah, very, very lucky. Very, very lucky. We love it. You have a couple of camps up here, so all your listeners and Effortless Swimming people would know, it’s Noosa and around here made it, so it’s pretty hard to beat, Brenton, pretty hard to beat, mate.

Brenton:
Look, I do whatever I can to get up there. And so that’s why I think it’s important to escape the coal when you get the chance, so it’s a great place to train. And, you obviously come from a high level of sport background but also coaching a number of athletes who have gone on to compete in Kona and you’ve got quite a widespread of athletes that you coach, and on this podcast I want to talk about, and kind of get out of you, what are some of those things that you’ve learned over the last seven or eight years as an athlete and as a coach, that you could pass on to those people that are listening? Because we have a whole bunch of triathletes and endurance athletes that listen to this and I think it would be great to pick your brain and see what some of those things are. So, from a, I guess a coaching perspective, where did you start with that and where have you sort of got to? How’s your philosophy changed over the last couple of years?

Tim Ballintine:
Good question. I think like most coaches, they start out with just a toe in the water. I find coaching, and you know, some coaches who have been doing it for 20, 30 years might cringe, but I still find it quite an immature industry or an immature career. I still think that it’s sort of finding it’s way, maybe in a different context of the way that we operate as well, but it’s very hard to just dive head first into and leave whatever it is that you’re doing behind. You need obviously the underpin by good qualifications and good mentorship, and I think as a coach starting out, that’s really, really critical that you get good people around you. I think that’s like anything in life, isn’t it mate? Part on one of those people, I’ll be honest, without your head wobbling off. I saw you as a real sort of leading thinker in the context of swimming, which is why I sort of cold called you and asked to sort of tag along in a few bits and pieces and pick your brain. And I also was partnered up there with Craig Percival and did a lot of stuff with him in Melbourne.

Tim Ballintine:
And you know, sadly we lost Craig tragically. And that really changed the whole landscape for me in a really heavyhearted kind of way. It sort of maybe forced my hand to make some harder decisions. But he was a great man. And that’s the picture, if you have got the video going, I don’t know, but he’s the one right there behind me. And yeah. So great people, man.

Tim Ballintine:
It’s like your athletes top Brenton and you’d be the same. You just learn so much from good people and hopefully as a coach also, you know, you try and impart some of that knowledge. But certainly for me starting out, if you are thinking about having a go at coaching, surround yourself with good mentors. And there’s some great coaches out there, like really great coaches, but they just might not be for you as well. It’s a bit like you as an athlete as well. Like there would be some great coaches out there who if I put my athlete hat on for a second, just wouldn’t be right for me. And the same goes for mentors in business and in coaching. You’ve got to find what sort of works for you as well.

Brenton:
Yeah, exactly. I think if I had to be a hard ass old school sort of swimming coach, that wouldn’t, that’s not me. I’m just a little bit more laid back. I’m probably a bit more friendlier than some of the hard ass coaches and I’m getting better at sort of putting the foot down when I need to. Not in a controlling way, but just in a way of a lot of people respond well to that sort of coaching where they want to be told, “All right, you’ve got to go for it now.” That sort of thing. And so just learning to change for the athlete that you’re working with. But I guess the overall way that I coach is not going to be like that. So I think yeah, you sort of find your style, you find your groove and then the people who are attracted to that will come to you and they’ll be the ones that want to work with you.

Tim Ballintine:
Well, you’re not for everyone, right? I mean you can’t be all things to all people. And that’s also a thing that you try and work out early days when you’re thinking, even if you’re sort of that part time, full time sort of thing, am I going to do this full time? It’s like you try to be everything to everyone because you think you have all the answers and frankly, yeah, I can help you with this and that, and then the further you get down the road, you start to work out your strengths as a coach as well and what your weaknesses are and also the type of athletes that you like working with. That’s the bottom line. That’s, to be perfectly frank, there’s certain types of athletes that as a coach you like working with them.

Tim Ballintine:
There’s some that you don’t, and that’s okay. I don’t see any problem with that. You’d rather be honest up front. So I remember when I first did my swimming Australia accreditation that your old man, I think Brian is he?

Brenton:
Yeah.

Tim Ballintine:
He spoke and he would be genuinely one of the more impressive people I’ve heard speak about swim coaching, his passion was just like you could really, you could feel it in the room and like you could just, I remember seeing you, this was at least five or six years ago. You’re sitting in the front row. I remember looking down at you, because I was in the back of the auditorium going, “Wow, for you, knowing that you’re a swim coach? Like what a great mentor.” You know, I hope I haven’t thrown you under the bus there, but I think that I certainly just in that one hour in the room with your old man, what a marvelous mentor and I’m not sure whether he’s still swim coaching is he?

Brenton:
He is, yeah. Yeah. I was going to say he’s doing less, a little bit less, but no, he’s still coaching, I don’t know how many sessions a week, eight to 10 sessions a week. And yeah, mum and dad run a learn to swim business, which is quite, quite large. And yeah, I was very lucky to, I was coached by him and obviously saw him coaching others and I think that’s where I got a lot of my coaching personality from that and that and the way that I coach and one of the best things that he did, I think when I was probably maybe 18 at the time. He said, “You should go and see this guy in New Zealand. He’s a trainer and he sort of trains people how to train or how to like present and how to coach”, and this guy was awesome.

Brenton:
So I went to this two day course and he was basically how do you get people involved and part of the learning process instead of just talking at them? And so just with different exercises and different ways to approach it. And I learned so much from that course and my dad had been to that twice I think. And that made a huge difference. And so when we run our camps in Thailand and that kind of thing, it’s a way to really just get people involved and working in small groups. And it made it a huge difference to my approach of how people learn because as you know, you learn so much more from actually doing, being involved, talking with others, sharing your experience than sitting down and watching a presentation. As you said, you could feel the passion that he was talking with and it’s not the words, it’s how you say them and how you convey it. So I think that’s really important.

Tim Ballintine:
There’s that mentor man, that’s what I was sort of touching on. You get those right people and yeah, it sort of sets you on the path and then there does come a point where you sort of have to pull the rip cord and decide, do I want to make a [inaudible 00:09:13] of this? Do I want to make a career out of this and you don’t really come across many coaches that don’t like their jobs. And not to generalize, but in the general sense, maybe if it’s lawyers, accountants, bankers, like you’re going to come across the odd person that it’s just a job, they genuinely don’t like what they do, but I’m trying to think. Coaching’s that sort of job where if you don’t like it, you’re not going to last very long and that is of great benefit to athletes and clients or whatever because you’re genuinely, you’re connected to someone that likes what they do and it’s because it’d be one of those jobs.

Tim Ballintine:
I’d find if you didn’t like it then I don’t think you’d last long at all. I really don’t. So yeah, that’s certainly, I think something pretty unique to the coaching landscape that the majority of people actually like their job, as horrible as that might sound.

Brenton:
It’s very true. I think in thinking of the way that you like to sort of program with athletes and work with them, how do you go about it? How often are you talking with people? How do you set the programs looking at their events coming up, what’s the sort of process that you’d go through?

Tim Ballintine:
Yeah, sure. So every, I mean it’s very cliche, but everyone is truly different and the reality is is some athletes require a little more communication than others for sure. I mean, you sort of find that mate, there’s some blokes that are kind of like, “Mate, just tell me what to do and we’ll chat once a month and that’s all good.”

Tim Ballintine:
And there’s some athletes that that two or three times a week you sort of hear from or talk to and that’s fine. I think that there’s also a point as a coach, you got to be really careful, particularly as an online coach, is that if you find that you’re having to talk to you’re athlete every day, I actually put that back on me to say I’m not doing my job to get the message across. Because genuinely if you’re needing to speak and get clarification or feedback every single day, not only is that a bit heavy, but I just think that it probably just not doing your job as a coach to try and get the message through as to what sort of each week means. We use training peaks as our program delivery tool, but really the program is, it’s really just the surface as a coach.

Tim Ballintine:
I think one of the most underrated things is accountability and some athletes who were just dialed in don’t really require accountability. They want the science side and after a probably a month or two, you’d kind of find what works, Brenton, for certain athletes. You’ve got an athlete who has been on the couch and wanting to do their first half marathon in 12 months. The approach with that athlete is very different to someone who might be wanting to qualify for Kona after their fifth Ironman, there’s no cookie cutter here. We don’t use any, one of the things we do here, not to plug their business, but certainly my other two coaches as well and me are much the same. We don’t use any libraries or any any workout templates or anything like that.

Tim Ballintine:
So there’s no kind of drag and drop. It’s all literally, sounds inefficient, but you get better at it. We write every session for what it is and that seems to work pretty well. We get really good results. We don’t sort of beat our chest about them, but certainly if you look sort of pound for pound, our team does pretty well and we’re across the world. We’re over 30 countries now, so really great diversity in the squad and that’s for two reasons. One, it reduces the seasonality of endurance coaching for sure. So we’re literally 54-46 Northern-Southern hemisphere as of the end of last year and it just really smooths income because the reality is Brenton, we’re trying to make a living too. And I think that any athlete would want their coach not having to worry about whether they can pay the mortgage.

Tim Ballintine:
It’s more about focusing on trying to get the best out of their athletes. So we’ve made a real effort to try and spread that athlete base. And as a coach it’s amazing working with people in so many different cultures. Whether it’s in Japan, you can’t swim at times, whether it’s in the middle East, you can’t basically swim in a pool for about four months a year because it’s like a bath, whether it’s in Europe where they have ice issues, whether it’s in Australia, there’s all kinds of different coaching methods as well. So yeah, it’s good fun. It’s good fun.

Brenton:
It’s funny you bring that up. I’ve got three ladies who I do stroke analysis coaching with online and they’re in Japan and they’ve recently moved pool so they can start to use a snorkel and fins cause their pools don’t allows it.

Brenton:
I remember a friend of mine, she’s Japanese, she went back home couple of years ago. She was swimming in the fast lane in a pool and there was a guy walking in that lane and he basically, he physically grabbed her and stopped her and told her to stop swimming so fast. Wow. If you tried that in a pool here in Melbourne, like good luck to you. That’s just-

Tim Ballintine:
You’d start doing butterfly with paddles if that happened.

Brenton:
Yeah, just the complete opposite. So yeah, you learn a lot from seeing what it’s like in other countries. And I think we’re very lucky here in Australia too with the training environment that we’ve got, particularly the pools, like there’s so many pools around that you’re hard pressed not to find one within-

Tim Ballintine:
Swimming’s part of our culture as Australians and this is one other thing, like they talk about sort of the barriers to entry of triathlon and obviously financial is a big thing, but I would say I’ve said this many times on other podcasts or whatever that swimming’s almost an equal barrier of entry to triathlon as is financially. I think pretty close. It’s the one thing that probably creates the most anxiety or scares the most people off that you’ve got to get through the swim. I have athletes I’ve got or worked with where they just want to get through the swim and then they bike run. Because the reality if you, without scaring too many people, but if you stop pedaling on the bike, you just slow down and if you stop running or you just stop, but if you stopped swimming, that’s the reality. So it’s a big thing getting past that barrier to entry of swimming. And that’s something that I think triathlon can do a much when they don’t have all the answers, but I think triathlon needs to always constantly work out trying to break down those barriers and I think swimming is definitely a big part of that.

Brenton:
Yeah, I completely agree. We have a lot of students who come to our clinics who have, they’re either wanting to start triathlon and they don’t know how to swim or they can barely swim or they’ve done a triathlon realize they can’t. They just made it through. And they might’ve had to hold onto the kayak of the lifesavers there for a while. But then, and we’ve had so many swimmers who have then after, all right, they know what they need to do and they’ve got the understanding of the fundamentals that will help them survive and then eventually enjoy it. And after a couple of months, and sometimes it can take six to 12 months, when they start to enjoy it, it makes such a big difference in their training and their swimming and how they approach the swim when they’re racing because as you said, most people just want to get through it.

Brenton:
But if you can enjoy the swim, I’d love to swim all day and not have to do the bike and run if that was triathlon but it’s not the case, but boy it can make a huge difference. And I think it just takes that level of confidence and that only comes from experience and having a little bit of education I think around it. And then just putting in the work as well because most people don’t want to go to the pool and train.

Tim Ballintine:
Yeah. It’s a funny one. I like that you go to that culture thing, I’ve got a four year old daughter who’s in the surf at the moment doing body boarding and just crunching through waves. And you think about some people in most parts of the world who might be jumping in a pool for the first time in their thirties. It’s a totally different and that’s always sometimes a challenge even for me as a coach is obviously swimming always came quite naturally to me because I was lucky. I was part of a squad. Because in Australia, you just kind of swim and sometimes you’ve got to be really careful as a coach to not make it sound like it should be all too easy because the reality is is it’s such a technical sport, but also then there’s those layers how you’d really want to try and simplify, it’s a bit like a golf swing.

Tim Ballintine:
I use that analogy a little bit, like you change one thing, it’s going to have a trickle down effect. And certainly when obviously we do some camps, but if there is a challenge there of distance where I think certainly myself as a coach in the early days I tried to be the pool deck coach by correspondence and it just really wasn’t working. I was pretty well overloading my athletes with corrections and the more and more I pulled back. So if someone sends me a swim video, I’d probably just like you, I could give them 10 red lines and 10 things to work on, but I kind of archive that and just give them literally one thing at a time. That’s what I’ve found sort of works, one or two things.

Tim Ballintine:
And then naturally as they correct those one or two things, it may inherently maybe create one other problem or it may fix five or six others as well. So I found that as a coach, a really, really important step myself. Most of my athletes are certainly able to with GoPros now and underwater cameras, they’re sending me videos all the time. So, but then it’s the doing of it. It’s all very well to have a glossy picture but then you’ve got to go do it.

Brenton:
Yeah, and that’s what I’ve really come down to as well. Like when I first started doing the online coaching, will actually will this actually work? Can I help someone improve their swimming if they’re in the US or somewhere else and can I do that by being remote. And the thing I found about it, and I spoke to a guy Baden who runs the skill stack, which is what we use for analysis and he does that with golf and we kind of came to-

Tim Ballintine:
There’s golf and swimming.

Brenton:
Exactly, like it’s so similar and we sort of came to the same conclusion that like what we both found was you can actually improve sometimes even more than face to face coaching because if you keep it really simple it’s like these one or two things, this is what you need to do, this is the drill that might help and this is what you might expect to experience or feel and you might need to exaggerate the thing that you’re trying to change. But sometimes that can actually be better for them because they’ve got the time and the space to be able to just make that change. I think that’s probably similar as well with you know, coaching by correspondence. People can kind of think about the session. They’re not feeling pressured with maybe other people around or the coach. So it can actually work better in many instances, which is surprising.

Tim Ballintine:
Yeah. Well as you would know, I think there’s a triathlon coach and an endurance coach. You do have to wear a few hats too, Brenton. So like we have to understand, not to downplay, obviously just focusing on one sport, but you have to kind of know a fair bit about the three disciplines. So what I also did is, I have quite a few athletes that consult with you, mate. I have a lower expert ceiling than you do because you think and breathe it every single day, swimming. So if I kind of get to a point where I’m struggling to get through or potentially need a different voice, you obviously help quite a few of my athletes as well.

Tim Ballintine:
So again, if you are a coach, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t actually have all the answers. It’s a hard thing to say because you think that the athlete may think less of you, but I would only stress that nine times out of 10 and I would actually hope 10 the athlete should appreciate that. And then, in the end, it’s for their benefit. So, certainly there has to be a lot of trust there. But yeah, man, lots of lessons, you sort of got to learn the hard way and fall on your face from time to time. But that’s life, right?

Brenton:
Yeah. I say it all the time. I cringe looking at the stuff that I used to teach and coach 10 years ago when I first started, but that’s a good thing. It means that you’ve actually changed what you’ve done and you’ve learnt something. And it’s probably good not to look back at that too much. Even some of the videos I used to do, even just on YouTube from that long ago, I can’t look back at them, it’s painful.

Tim Ballintine:
I don’t know about you, but like for me, I always find that very, very common, the thing is that it usually starts with breathing in swimming, that’s where the kind of, because people who are uncomfortable in the water or swimming environment, they’re trying to find a way to get oxygen because when they’ve got their face down, there’s no O2 down there that they can appropriately filter. So it’s like they’re just always just trying to find 02 in whatever way that seems to work in this kind of almost a survival mode. And so that for me is the coaches, my first go to is, “How are these people trying to get air?” It’s trying to simplify it, right? That’s where I’ll start with particularly with regions that aren’t, have a strong cultural swimming background, be it Asia or India or the Middle East, that they’re just not as adverse to swimming all the time.

Tim Ballintine:
And typically I see that it’s the breathing that that lies at the heart. Obviously the leg sinking, those sorts of things. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to breathe before you can kick your legs. Get that right first, get the breathing bit right first and then that often will settle them into an environment that they are probably never fully comfortable in, mate. Probably never, it’s not a natural, but certainly enough to get through a 1.9 or a 3.8K open water swim. It’s tough though. It’s hard. I don’t get it because I’m a swimmer, but I get it. I get the scary bit. I get it. Nobody wants to die.

Brenton:
I was thinking about this the other day, if I wasn’t a swimmer and I was out in the surf, if I was surfing in a reasonable sized swell, how comfortable would I actually be out there if I was not a handy swimmer. If I was a fairly weak swimmer. That’d be really scary if I felt like I might struggle to make 200 meters swimming if you lost your surfboard and you’re out there. And I thought, okay, I can relate to that a bit because I imagine what it would be like if you’re brand new to the sport, you’re in a big pool. It might be deep, that’s going to create some anxiety.

Tim Ballintine:
100%. 100%, so I think that that’s, if there’s anything that I can kind of, is certainly that breathing aspect and there’s all sorts of fixes for all different issues and then with the drills. But that’s always sort of come through for me is this sort of the primary thing when people are starting is getting that breathing right and all the things associated with it.

Brenton:
And with some athletes that you’ve coached, let’s say ones that you’ve coached for a longer period of time and the ones that have improved their swimming, what are some of those factors that you see making a difference? And maybe some examples of athletes, don’t need to give names or anything, but what are some of those things that you see making a difference?

Tim Ballintine:
Well, for the guys that I’ve coached for a long period of time, typically, I’d like to think they’ve improved. So they get to a level where they’re not so relatively competitive, but they’re comfortable in the environment in which that they race or belong in. So let’s say triathlon. One of a bit of a breakthrough things, so just sort of park technique but just sit in the helicopter of just swimming in general is that swimming is often approached in the wrong way, I think for triathletes that sometimes it can just be seen as a recovery session to the bike and the run. And they just don’t bring the intensity required to make improvements. So you think about bike or run, there’s got to be some intensity there to get faster or to get stronger, you’ve got to put in efforts, but people aren’t often willing to do the hard 100s and 200s in the pool.

Tim Ballintine:
And this is past the point of can I swim or not? This is just genuinely hard work. And so what a lot of athletes make the mistake, or they tend to do is they just increase volume. So like, I’m doing Basso, I’ve got a long swim coming up. I’ll just chuck the paddles on for two Ks. That’ll make me stronger. I’d much rather you go and do ten 100s to be frank and half the distance, but increase the intensity because the reality is, Brenton, also when they’re trying to balance swim, bike, run, they can’t swim 20 Ks a week typically. So we’re doing maybe three, maybe four swims for some of the guys going to Kona certainly. But three swims a week, three to four Ks. You and I both know that those high, high level swimmers are swimming 50, 60 Ks, right?

Tim Ballintine:
So we’re trying to get kind of marginally improvement out of in reality in the pool, in terms of time commitment, not all that much. If you have got a pie chart or a wedge where swimming gets the smallest portion. So I think you’ve got to try and inject some intensity in there. And that’s really hard to do initially because typically that the notion is, Oh, I’ll just chuck the poor boy in, I’ll just kind of go through the motions and when they get to understand or they get on the clock, get on the clock, like start to use the clock at the pool. This thing that has a time thing on it, it rotates around 60.

Brenton:
It’s there for a reason.

Tim Ballintine:
You just stop, start you going to get on the clock. That’s also a big thing that I find gets people to break through because you don’t win. It’s such a cliche, you’re not winning a triathlon with a swim, but God damn like you can set up such a great race with having a good swim or if you have it bad swim and you’re trying to do something in terms of qualifying or just move up the order in your age group, you’re just chasing tail all day and yeah, it’s a tricky one. So I think intensity is a big thing. I think that that is something that often is just sort of left on the side.

Brenton:
Yeah. And I think along with that and it kind of plays into it. It’s just that that change of pace, and I get it too. I’m looking at the running that I’ve done over the last two months and I’ve started to run a bit more.

Tim Ballintine:
You’ve been running?

Brenton:
Well, I’ve sort of tapered off now.

Tim Ballintine:
Is it on Strava?

Brenton:
It’s on Strava, I had a 70 K week, but now I’m back down to about 10 to 15, but it’s kind of waned off now and I’m probably doing like 15 Ks a week so back into it. But the pace has just been pretty consistent. I haven’t done any hardly any efforts. It’s kind of like I’m going to the pool and just swimming. But when I look back at the training I was doing for Ironman, I had a lot of varied pace and yeah, it might be one K on, one K off, and my speed was so much better when I’m looking at the times that I was doing in races. And so I can see how it’s easy to just slip into sitting at one speed. But if you can just throw in some efforts or variable pace work, you just get so much better at actually racing.

Tim Ballintine:
100%, because races have a great, very high level of variable pace, don’t they? From the start to the finish of whatever distance, the start is usually like well and truly over threshold, and even trying to swim to get around people or swim to have people go past you or people swimming over the top of you. It’s not like following a black line in the open water. So you’ve got to get used to that variance in heart rate or whatever mechanism that you’re using. But also, if you are on limited time, I genuinely think that you’ve just got to bring the heat as they say in the pool and knowing what that sort of feels like. For even myself who, not a bad swimmer in the context of triathlon, like when I’m at the end of the hard 200 or 10 by 200 like I’m over the lane ropes.

Tim Ballintine:
I’m not in pain, but I’m certainly looking for oxygen and I very rarely see that at the pool. If I think about people sort of touching the wall and coming up to have a drink, I always kind of look and I go, they’re not working hard enough and I just stay to stay in my own little bubble. But some people might look at me and go, “Jeez, that looks nuts.” But that’s kind of what’s required I think. Not all the time. Obviously you don’t have to do it every swim set, the coach will guide you. But if it says hard or if it says sprint, that’s what it’s there to be there to be done. But you’ve got to be underpinned by pretty good technique to be able to do it too.

Brenton:
I think it becomes quite, it’s quite a fun, quite an addictive thing to do. When I’m leading up to some, like I’m going to do Pier to Pub, which is a 1200 meter race and hopefully some other events around that. But I’ll do some sets that might be some 400s or 200s looking to hit that same sort of pace that I want to do in the race. And look forward to that session every time I do it. It might be one or two sessions a week, but it’s like, “I want to get in there and have a go and see if I can go a little bit quicker this week and see that progression over the course of eight to 12 weeks.”

Brenton:
Look, when you’re not fit and you’re not feeling good, it’s a grind. So you normally have to sit, I mean I normally have to sit a couple seconds slower than where I would ideally like to be, but when that’s the case, you just suck it up and go, “Okay, today’s not my day, but I’ve still got to put in the effort. But I know the times won’t be there.”

Tim Ballintine:
I always find, even if you’ve got a big pedigree in swimming, it even shows like you take two weeks off swimming or you’re out of the pool for an extended period. I really think that percentage wise it feels the sting, it comes back relatively quick. But you know, if you take a couple of weeks off the bike or maybe even running, you can kind of claw it back. I found with swimming though, it’s the audit kind of where you’re at, fine with swimming. Like it’ll tell you where you’re at. So, it’s a funny one. But yeah mate, absolutely love it. You’ve got to got to enjoy getting in the water and it’s a good environment to be.

Brenton:
I just love that there’s always something to work on. So in the start of November, I did a 12 200 set and it was the quickest I’ve ever done in training. And then the next, or I think it was like the next day, I came off the mountain bike and I couldn’t move my arm above there for four weeks. So I just stuffed up my AC joint and so I’m about 98% of the way.

Tim Ballintine:
You know the issue. Do you know the issue? You’re on a mountain bike.

Brenton:
Yeah, and it’s gotten two rides since and they’ve been pretty tame. So yeah, my preferred route.

Tim Ballintine:
Fixed ride doesn’t count.

Brenton:
Exactly. Yeah.

Tim Ballintine:
Down to the cafe and you get your soy latte.

Brenton:
Yeah, that’s right. That’s all I think all I’m going to do now is not going downhill at all. That was well beyond my ability, but it’s taken me, what is it now, it’s nearly four November. December. Okay. So it’s three and a half months and I’m about back to where I was then. And obviously that’s the sort of injury, but I was out for a few weeks and it just takes a while to get back. But the good thing about it is I’ve been able to work on my stroke while I couldn’t swim fast and while I couldn’t swim hard, and I feel like this sort of change in strokes that I’ve been able to work on will actually help me to go quicker again in probably the next four to six weeks time. So there’s always something to improve, even at a high level and it’s a great thing that I love about the sport.

Tim Ballintine:
I think if I was listening to this right now, I’d have one thing. What’s he swim for 12 by two hundreds, can you say your times?

Brenton:
Yeah, it’s short course. So it doesn’t count. Long course would be different, but yeah.

Tim Ballintine:
What’s your 200 times?

Brenton:
It was, it was 10 to, Oh, sorry, 12 how many was it?.

Tim Ballintine:
12?

Brenton:
No, sorry, I lied. I was 10 twos on 2:30 coming in on 2:20.

Tim Ballintine:
Solid, mate.

Brenton:
That was short course though. So long course probably add five seconds in overall, I think. Yeah, that bloody killed me.

Tim Ballintine:
That’s really interesting. Not to turn it into a weighing contest, so when I’m coming right into my peak swimming into say an Ironman, I’ll do 10 twos and I’ll try and touch under 2:30 and leave on the 2:45, that’s about for me. So if I get to that, it’s funny just a yardstick. Once I can do that for say a month, I’m know that I’m ready to swim an Ironman in around kind of under 55 and that’s typically, I was trying really hard for a long period of time as an athlete to try and get my Ironman swim under 50 minutes. And at the end of the day, I was putting way too many eggs in that basket and I should be just happy with the 53, 54 but trying to put more time towards my bike.

Tim Ballintine:
And that changed the game for me, Brenton, in terms of just in a half context, that was a real game changer. So I think even when I was asking you a few things, I was trying to get my time under 50 and I kind of just, I gave up on that. It was just taking way too much time. I probably would have got there, but my bike was just suffering too much. And so I just am now content being a 54 and riding a lot better. So, that’s definitely changed racing tracing for me for sure. But yeah, no, it’s interesting, [inaudible 00:34:10] Holy moly. But yeah, that’s flying.

Brenton:
I say that and then I speak to someone like Dan Smith.

Tim Ballintine:
Oh, stop.

Brenton:
Some of the sets that he was doing, like he’s doing 400, no 300s coming in on like, oh, what was it? It was descending. It was like 2:56, 2:54, 2:50 or something. This is short course again, but oh my God. All right. That’s a whole nother level.

Tim Ballintine:
Yeah, it is. Triathletes will say, or then you’ve got to go run a 2:50 marathon though. Try to do that. That’s the battle though. Where do you shift? So if you’ve got eight hours to train a week, where do you put, so as a coach or as an athlete, where do you allocate the time? And so if you’ve got eight hours, 10, 12, 15, whatever it may be, and then you’ve got strength as well. You’re really just project managing people’s time a lot of the time. And like a swim, a 60 minute swim set is actually a couple of hours by the time you get to the pool, get out of the pool, do all those things, it’s two hours. Whereas like say an indoor train on the bike, two hours, a one hour trainer sets about a one 15 time commitment. So that’s genuinely like, you’re trying to crunch people’s schedules so much these days as well. So that’s also, I think, where swimming suffers is that unless you’ve got a 50 meter lap pool in your house, which we don’t all do like you do in your mansion but it’s tricky to do.

Brenton:
I mean I look back at when I was doing triathlon and next time I do a half Ironman or full distance Ironman, so much more time needs to go on to the bike. I was doing 250, 300 Ks a week, it needs to be a lot more than that to actually do well because that bike was just a huge chunk of my race and I put too much time into the swim. That was it.

Tim Ballintine:
Rewind two minutes mate. That’s exactly like what I kind of discovered and real breakthrough. So if you’re looking for a coach, hit me up.

Brenton:
Yeah. So in terms of our getting in touch with you, and you run a podcast as well, which we haven’t talked about. So do you want to maybe talk about where people can find you and your podcast and get in touch with you?

Tim Ballintine:
Yeah, so our coaching business is called Koa Sports. So we’re an online coaching business with, like I said, athletes around the world so they can just go to koasports.com. We do do a podcast, which will be coming on in May when I drag you up here as well.

Brenton:
There’s is fancy, they’re in person so.

Tim Ballintine:
We’ve got a bit of a studio, but we do a lot of e-sports stuff as well in the Swift world. So we do a lot of stuff. But I’ve got two other full time coaches, Ken Cross and Greg McDermott, so we’re all full time. That’s a really big thing for me but there’s plenty of coaching businesses with a lot more coaches and a lot more athletes. But I really believe as I kind of project myself as an athlete, sometimes I’d want my coach to be full time, to be frank.

Tim Ballintine:
I want them to be thinking not so much about me, but about the career or the discipline or the industry of coaching and all the different ways and the changes and the innovation and the different tools. And that’s really hard, I think, if you’re an accountant Monday to Friday and you’re writing programs on a Friday night after a big week, that’s really difficult to do. You’ve got three full time coaches here, that’s pretty unique because, like I said, coaching still quite an immature thing. So very, very lucky.

Tim Ballintine:
But yeah, hit us up on the website, my own Twitter, I’ve got a blog and all sorts of stuff so maybe you would chuck it in the notes, but I’m always looking for new talent and I think we’ve got about half a dozen or eight going to Kona next year already. So it should be pretty. Topo 70.3 local, 70.3 world champs, which is going to be massive and we’re up in Asia all the time racing and doing some stuff up there as well. So, yeah, love it, mate. Just full all in. Just absolutely love it.

Brenton:
Very busy. Yeah, that’s great. And it sounds like it’s really growing, especially with athletes in 30 countries as well. So it’s huge. And I’ll put all those links in there in the show notes and people listening to be able to find everything there. So mate, thanks for coming on the podcast and looking forward to being on yours in a couple months time.

Tim Ballintine:
No worries. Maybe we’ll see you then.



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