Don’t Let The Numbers Rule Your Swimming with Nick Jankovskis

The podcast that helps you improve your swimming, love the water and live a better life.


My guest today is Nick Jankovskis from METS Performance. METS Performance is a Melbourne based company that help athletes with a whole range of tests that you can use to then use some data to incorporate that into how you’re training, particularly for endurance athletes. Nick and I will be talking about how we easily can get caught up with all this information and how we can use this data effectively in our training.

03:22 Philosophy of METS Performance Consulting
04:45 Working With Athletes
09:52 Common Mistakes Among Athletes
17:30 Stepping Back
22:08 Variable Pace Swimming
27:59 Data and Training
34:40 Macro Perspective
40:21 Don’t Get Too Caught Up with Data
48:04 It’s Good To Have A Back-Up Sports
1:01:14 Making it Simple

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Nick Jankovskis




Brenton: Welcome to Episode Number 136. Today’s episode is how to not let the numbers and data rule your swimming. My guest today is Nick [inaudible 00:00:10] from Mets Performance. They’re a Melbourne based company that help athletes with a whole range of tests that you can use to then use some data to incorporate that into how you’re training, particularly for endurance athletes. A lot of that is around V02 Max testing, lactic threshold testing and they’ve got a few other ones as well.

Brenton: In this episode, we look at how you can use some of the numbers and the tests that elite athletes use, but use them in a simple and effective way and not get caught up in them because one of the things that I hate is complexity. That’s why we try and keep things very simple and I like Nick’s approach and Mets Performance approach using these numbers, but then not getting too caught up in them every time that you train and not worrying if you’re five seconds off per hundred or six seconds off per a hundred in one session looking at at a macro scale.

Brenton: Really just how to keep enjoying what you’re doing, having fun, but making sure that you’re using the right scientific approach to your training. Before we get into the episode, I want to let you know about the camps that we’ve got running next year. We’ve just finalized our [Noosa 00:01:09] Camp, which is a brand new camp that we’ll be running. It’s a six-day, five-night camp held in Noosa, which is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s just beautiful and I was there for a couple of weeks with the family and got some of the best sunrises and sunsets and just a really, really special place to swim.

Brenton: We’ve got a six-day camp there where the first couple of days we’ll be doing some open water swimming. We’ll be doing a lot of underwater filming, analysis, coaching. There’ll be a very high coach to swimmer ratio there and we were also tying it in with an event which will be held on the last day. Iron Man is running a swim event there. There’s a one, two and 3.8K option and that’s going to be the final thing that we do at the camp, so everyone will choose their events and then we’ll all go out for lunch afterward.

Brenton: If you enjoy swimming, if you love the beach, if you love open water swimming plus you want to improve your swimming, then this is going to be a really fun camp that I can’t wait for. That’s in May next year. If you’re interested in that, go to the website and click on the camp section and you can find more details about the Noosa camp. We’ve also opened up bookings for our weight camps, which will be held in October next year. They are our Thailand camps that we’ve run for the last five years and for those who have listened for a while, you know that those camps book up 12 months in advance.

Brenton: I’ve just decided to open updates or bookings really early if you are interested in booking so you can book into that now. We’re also running our Hawaii camps next year. Details for those will be finalized very shortly. So if you’re listening to this a few weeks late, then you can probably find details about the Hawaii camp on our website, so head to for more details on those. Let’s get into the episode with Nick [inaudible 00:02:51] from Mets Performance.

Nick Jankovskis: Our philosophy behind things is trying to bring the common, I guess, elite sports science that commonly has not really being available to the everyday athlete to bring that to a more readily available platform and allow guys to go through, do their VO2 max testing, understand what their physiology is doing, understand where their training don’t fit or what their heart rate is like, what intensity they should be holding for different types of sessions, and have a clear recommendation for them of how they should go about their next block of training.

Nick Jankovskis: So I guess that leads into really what we do now with our guys that we coach. So we mostly work with let’s say our top five are swimmers, cyclists, runners, rowers, and triathletes, with triathletes, cyclists, and runners probably the main area of focus that we do specialize in. But we go right through, perform physiological testing on them through VO2 max, lactate analysis understanding what is happening with that blood lactate component, a bit of an aero versus anaerobic contribution to things, break down the data from their testing. So you have a look right through, build out their training zones, and then deliver the training off the back of it if they are one of our coached athletes or provide the recommendations onward to their coach or their already distinct coach.

Nick Jankovskis: So we’re sort of pretty flexible in that space. But we definitely specialize in the science of performance and particularly endurance performances where we do most of our work if not all of our work.
Brenton: And over the past couple of years that you’ve been at METS are there things there that you’ve come to understand better or that you’ve learned from working with a lot of athletes over that time doing these different tests?

Brenton: Yeah. I think the main one is that 85, 90 percent of endurance athletes are a lot similar to each other than what they probably like to think. There’s a lot of different paths to the same outcome. I mean, Melbourne marathon is a good example that we’re doing with a lot of athletes who are training for that at the moment, and there’s a lot of different ways you can go about the training to lead up to a three-hour marathon or a sub-three marathon for example.

Brenton: But the interesting thing that we found is 85, 90 percent of the athletes that come into see us generally who are training for the same event generally display very, very similar traits in their physiology. And so that’s probably the big thing, just looking at trends in the data is that you can always pick before they’ve done the test what’s going to happen based off what type of training they’ve roughly done and what event they’re training for. So we can get a pretty good understanding of, yeah, they’re probably going to have a reasonable VO2 max. I mean it’s gotten to the point now where we can set someone up on a test and pretty much pinpoint where their threshold is going to hit and where their VO2 max is going to hit with a reasonable understanding of just asking them a few questions before the test just because we say very similar things in physiology across similar types of athletes.

Nick Jankovskis: We do see some interesting trends particularly of triathletes. The big one is we ideally like to test their bike and their run in separate sessions. So we’ll see very similar VO2 max numbers, but we’ll see quite different heart rate ratings, often 7 to 10 beats higher on the run compared to the bike. And then we’ll often see something like ventilation, so how much air they’re getting per minute is generally a little bit higher on the bike compared to the run because their torso is a little bit more stable, a little bit more relaxed, less likelihood of falling off the trade because they’re on the bike as well. So there are things like that we start to see some differences.

Nick Jankovskis: And also we’ve had a few swimmers come through. A little bit tricky to do a swimming test without one of those like sorts of endless pools where we can control the intensity and pretty sort of complex comprehensive setup to properly VO2 max assess swimmers. But we have a few swimmers come through, some of the open water guys and obviously our triathletes as well doing a bit of swimming. I would say some pretty similar things with their heart rate sort of being more aligned with what we see running-wise. So if we’re ever prescribing seamless sessions in the pool to what we would in run, so if we’re looking for a long slow swim, for example, we generally work off pretty similar if you’re trying to stick to maybe a heart rate, again, something difficult to monitor in a swim session.

Nick Jankovskis: But we sort of related pretty closely to that running because we seem to get a reasonable accurate rating. And interestingly enough some of the swimmers have done rowing tests as well with this us which has been interesting. More of that upper body demand is a little bit more specific. So they’re probably some of the key things I’ve probably learned over the last couple of years working in the field or working in industry at METS, is just seeing some of those similarities across sports and across types of athletes competing for the same event, but then being able to take that similarity and use the data from their test to provide that individual difference I think is the key step that a lot of coaches and a lot of athletes sort of misses.

Nick Jankovskis: We know how the pros train, but if you want to train and perform better that might not be the best path for you if that makes sense. So sort of working through what is the best path based on that trait that we’ve got in the athlete and those subtle differences, and it’s the differences in heart rate, subtle differences in lactate ratings as well which is giving us that clear path of where does the athlete need to go. So we may be doing a similar type of session, but we might be tweaking it as a result of the data we get from the test. So that is probably the biggest thing that I’ve sort of noticed over the last little while.

Brenton: There’s a big crossover there from us running a lot of clinics and working with a lot of athletes over the last couple of years where I’ve found it’s when looking at the stroke and analyzing technique it’s come down to just… it’s pattern recognition. So you look at someone swimming and you just work with so many different people that you pretty much straight away you can go right to doing this or doing this or doing this.

Brenton: And then it comes down to giving those individual recommendations based on maybe what the athlete’s beliefs are and their approach to their sport and maybe what type of personality they are, how can you best deliver it that way. And then just those little nuances that are different to each person. And across the board there’s usually the same two or three common mistakes that you see in technique. And then there’s probably some similar things with how they’re training. Is there any common things that you see with how endurance athletes are training that you get them to adjust or correct? Any common mistakes there?

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. 100%. Just sort of before I sort of get into that 100% agree with what you’re saying. It’s pattern recognition. You see the same thing, and it’s just making those tweaks. I guess in terms of the common things that we see and that we do make those tweaks on probably the one big session that… I mean, we’re happy to sort of give this session away because a lot of it comes from just any sort of literature and research type you read on trying to improve things like VO2 max, aerobic power. It’s one of the go tos. But in terms of the session that we often don’t see athletes do and it’s really clear when we see the data in terms of their ability oxygen, their aerobics power, so their abilities, oxygen quickly if you like at the back end of a test when they’re working hard at those high intensities.

Nick Jankovskis: It’s a really simple high intensity session where you pretty much go and flat out 9, 9 and a half, out of 10 intensity workout at 95% of your velocity or your workload at max. And you’re working off a one-to-one work to rest ratio, two minutes on and you get a two minute walking recovery or a two minute very easy recovery, and just working through that, so six, seven, eight times throughout the session. It’s a really simple session. So by intensity it’s lots of rest. We just don’t see a lot of athletes do it. A lot of athletes, particularly in sort of triathlon running and cycling, we generally see a lot of that sort of in and around threshold. So I guess race pace gets thrown around a lot, that term. I’ve never been a big fan of athletes just working off, “Oh, I went out and did 40 minutes of race pace today.” For me from a numbers perspective there’s no metric to that. What is race pace? It’s so broad and vague.

Nick Jankovskis: We say a lot of that going out and going reasonably hard for a period of time and having short recoveries and trying to back it up again, which has a time and place, and that time and place is very specific to racing. But the adaptation from that plateaus really quickly. So we say athletes can get genuinely pretty I guess race fit if you want to call it or primed specific for their race within about six to eight weeks of when their event is. Anytime before that if they get chipping away eventually you’re going to plateau and plateau pretty hard.

Nick Jankovskis: Apart from anything else those types of sessions where we’re working let’s say you’re on for 10 minutes at sort of an 8 out of 10 intensity if we’re using RPA, but working there about that threshold, working pretty hard. You have half the recovery, so five minute recovery, you go again. It’s lactic in, lactic out partially, but then it comes back in again, and we’re just sort of buffering and worrying about tolerating that lactic acid, which a lot of athletes are really good at because when we race that’s what we have to do.

Nick Jankovskis: So if you’ve got a stacked race schedule you’re already pretty good. And triathletes [inaudible 00:09:28] you’re racing every month. And if you’re racing [inaudible 00:09:30] series or you’re racing every three months if you’re writing a sort of 70.3 sort of distance. So there’s always something going on to build that. Whereas we often miss that moving the top end of your engine which is going to give you an extra ability to improve that threshold.

Nick Jankovskis: So I guess an easy way to think about is if you’ve got a V6 engine at the moment you can only fit six cylinders into that engine. If you think about cylinders being where your threshold fits in and the engine being your overall performance ability, if you can only fit six cylinders in that might be the difference for a triathlete of, well, “I can only push that threshold. I can only get up to about four minutes per K.” Or for a swimming example, maybe I can only hold 90 seconds 100s over the course of my 1500 meter swim because the top end of my engine is not much far above it. I’ve got no nowhere to move.

Nick Jankovskis: You can exceed max, but only in very short bouts. I mean, we’re talking swimming teams it’s like if you go flat out for 50 meters, yeah, you can sprint, but you’re not going to sustain that pace forever. So the difference being if we can move that top end by doing some of that really high intensity what we call VO2 interval work is you extend the size of the engine. Now we’ve got the capacity and ability to fit more cylinders in if you like. So you go from a V6 to V8 [inaudible 00:10:48]. Now I’ve got six cylinders to play with. A V8 engine on six cylinders is going to be more powerful that the V6 on six. You’ve got that bigger size engine, you’re using more oxygen.

Nick Jankovskis: It’s just an easy tweak I guess to the interval sessions that we’re doing is we’re making them harder with intensity but we’re actually giving athletes more rest. So I think that’s the thing that that gets a lot of them is I’m not necessarily feeling at the end of the session like I’ve worked harder than I have previously. You’ve been going hard in those intervals, but you’ve had plenty of recovery to be able to allow you to sustain that quality of interval. So again, that’s probably the biggest tweak we make is it’s just making athletes more aware of if we can increase the size of the engine to start with you’ve got more to play with. You don’t have to worry about, well, I’m only looking at 1 or 2 percent.

Nick Jankovskis: For some athletes, it’s the case of… and I had this sort of early last year, I had a cyclist come and see me, and he came in and he tested three or four months later, went away. All he did was really long slow base Ks and he did some really high intensity VO2 style intervals. He’s FTP went up by 30 watts and he hadn’t actually targeted a threshold type session. He’d given himself heaps to recovery in those really high intensity bouts but made them quality efforts, and then he just did lots of really long, slow, comfortable work.

Nick Jankovskis: And what happened was his VO2 max improved by about 10, 12 percent, and that allowed him to drag up his FTP with it. He ended up maxing in the test. I think it was… I’m going to get the numbers wrong, but let’s say if he maxed out at 300 watts in the first test the second test was 330. He finished the test. What it meant for his FTP was it was the same relative percentage of the engine, but he’s engine was bigger. So his FTP came up, and it was by about sort of 30 watts.

Nick Jankovskis: So that’s where we can see some improvement by working around it and looking at, all right, where are you sort of weak at the moment. If your ability is oxygen at the top end then your engine size isn’t great overall. Your percentage of that that you can hold in a race isn’t going to be much less than that max. You’ve only got probably 1 or 2 percent to chase. Why not chase 10, 15 percent and then changing the size of your engine completely because now it’s got the capacity to work through more. So I guess that’s probably the big one.

Nick Jankovskis: The other one as well as just overdoing the volume where we often get perceived from the outside, and we like to laugh about it a bit. We often get perceived from the outside as being sort of anti-volume training. We’re definitely not. Again, time and place. Where does it fit in and how much do you need. But it’s more of a case of when we’ve got athletes who are training for let’s say a 70.3 where they’re only going to be expected to run for maybe 90 minutes to two hours for the average age group. If they’re going out and doing a four hour run we just sort of look at that and go there’s not much method to the madness really. There’s not much going on there that’s useful.

Nick Jankovskis: Minimal effective doses is the principle whereby… so I guess the minimum amount of quality training we can do for the maximum benefit, allowing you to recover more and sort of tick multiple boxes off as opposed to, “I’m just doing Ks because everyone else is sort of doing Ks and doing crazy, crazy distances.” Sometimes that’s not the answer.

Brenton: It looks good on Strava.

Nick Jankovskis: It looks good on Strava. Yeah, you go out and do 200K ride. But sometimes that’s not the right way to go about it. It puts you at higher risk of injury, et cetera. So they’re probably the two major things.

Brenton: Yeah, that’s definitely a lot of crossover with what I’ve seen. And I think the other thing that that plays a part of that is why do people either do the long distances without maybe the planning behind it or the reason why behind it, or why aren’t they doing those high-intensity efforts with a lot more rest in between. And a big part of that… And I’ve even fallen into this trap when I’ve done distance training for sort of long-distance swims and even triathlon. It’s like all you want to try and do is just push yourself and push yourself and keep it sort of race pace or threshold pace, and you feel like if you take too much rest then you’re losing the benefits there. But sometimes if you take that step back and you actually give yourself some time to get the heart rate down you can keep the quality of your technique up if it’s in the pool but also keep the intensity up at that higher level. Then you really see a difference.

Brenton: And an example that I’ll give is one of our athletes who does a full out filming in Melbourne pretty regularly. He said he’s just started to plateau with his swim time. So I asked him what’s he doing with his training sessions because his technique has improved a lot over the last I think it’s been nine months. And there’s definitely some tweaks we can still make, but I was curious as to what he’s doing in his workouts. And most sessions he’ll get in the water, go through a K time trial just off the bat and then do maybe another eight, I don’t know, 8 to 12 hundred meters where it might be some sort of interval work but all pretty much at the same speed.

Brenton: So you look at that and go, “Sweet.” There is a lot of room available there to break out of that plateau, really increase your swim speed, and build that engine by just changing what you’re doing in your workouts. So it’s a really big component of getting faster. And there’s so many different things you can look at and especially for swimming. Obviously we’re focused heavily on technique, but workouts is definitely one of those, and then there’s mobility and things as well. But when you move these levers and all these different areas that’s when you really start to see these 1% improvements start to add up. So I think that’s, yeah, really interesting. We definitely see that same thing with the type of training that people are doing.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. And it’s a case as well. And again, we say it a lot with athletes who bang their head against the wall going, “Why am I not getting any faster?” But you just hit the nail on the head. They jump in the pool and they do a 1K time trial at the same pace every session. That’s going to get you really good at running terms [inaudible 00:16:45] off the tope of my head, but if you want to go out and run four minute Ks and all you do is running four minute Ks you get really good at four minute Ks. But if you want to run at 3:45s you have to practice… And this is where just taking things to the next level, is if you want to run at 3:45 and get better at it if you can go out and run short efforts at 3:30 pace and get better at those, yes, you’re giving yourself rest but it gives you that ability to go, “Hey, 3:45 isn’t so bad.”

Nick Jankovskis: And it’s the same in the pool. If you’re swimming… and I know a lot of guys and you’ve already say it’s like a lot of the triathletes come in and say that they can’t break through 1:40, 1:45 per 100 and they’re really trying to get down to I guess 90 seconds from sort of what… What we’ve seen over the last little while is I guess a bit of a magical barrier for a lot of people. They want to get down to a 90 second 100. But they can’t get down there. And I asked them, “Well, what are you doing in your training? Are you doing anything to teach your body to go that next level fast? Yeah. You don’t have to sustain it.” And that’s the key. You don’t have to necessarily go and swim a 120 100 all the time, but if you can swim that sort of 120 pace for 50, 75 meters that 190 is now looking a little bit more achievable.

Nick Jankovskis: So it’s just, yeah, changing I guess changing mindset a bit, and like anything, if you do it again and again and again you’ll get really good at it. But at some point you need to challenge yourself to go that next level and do something different to provide that next challenge and move up if it’s pace, if it’s holding a pace for a greater distance. Why do we overload? Why do we go from a 1K in the pool to 1.25 to 1500 meters to 2K? Why do you progress over? Because it’s progressively challenging us to go a little bit further distance a little bit further so when we get to race day where we’re able to handle it. It’s exactly the same. It’s just not awfully sort of looked at when it comes to how do we do the same for pace.

Brenton: Yeah, that’s it. And one of the things that I try and get the athletes that I coach to do is just if they’re not already just do some variable pace swimming where… an example of, there’s a young kid that lives pretty close to me. I coach him every now and then and do some training with him and he’s never done that much work towards training for his 400s. So he doesn’t know how to pace himself. And in terms of his speed his awareness around what pace he’s going isn’t as good as it could be. So a session that we did the other day was, I’ve got to think back to it, but I think it was 10 100s twice through. So it was 2100s and we worked off his goal for a 100 meter pace.

Brenton: So I think his sort of target pace was a 109 for the 400, but I think he’ll actually be quicker than that because of how he was swimming. But we basically started off at 400 pace plus 15 seconds. So 109 plus 15, so going for 124. I think we went plus… No. Was it 16? So plus 16, plus 14, plus 12, and then I think we went plus 10, then we had a recovery 100 then went down to, well yeah, plus 8, plus 6, then recovery. And then we went a plus 4 recovery, plus 2, recovery. And then I think one at 400 pace or maybe two at 400 paces, something along those lines. And the first set he was way off the mark. He went out at plus eight and then kind of went plus eight, plus eight, plus seven, and just didn’t quite have it.

Brenton: The second set he almost hit it every time. And we did a similar set yesterday and he was spot on. So it doesn’t take a lot to give you that awareness around what your pace is, especially for swimming when you don’t necessarily get to see what time you are doing [crosstalk 00:20:31] then that is such an important skill to have. So just throwing a simple set like that in can help you. And same for running. It can just help you get a sense.

Brenton: That’s one of the issues I have with wearing the watches so often is, yeah, in running I don’t mind it, but especially in the pool I’m against wearing the watches. I think if you can read your pace off the clock you’re so much better off because then you’re not distracted by your watch beeping and you’re just… When I’ve worn it in training my technique isn’t as good. My stroke isn’t as good, and I’m not as aware of those other things and that sort of sense of pace and feeling in my body. I lose that because of the distraction of the watch. So I’m a big fan of swimming without the watch just using the pace clock to know what times you’re doing.

Nick Jankovskis: And I think that’s something that a lot of athletes fall into the trap of and how that misconception of from the outside into what we do at METS is we are very numbers here and yeah we are in some circumstances and with training zones and that. But you’re dead right. If you can’t understand what pace your body is at without having to be glued to looking at a screen to tell you what you’re doing something is missing. You’re going to struggle on race day. I can guarantee.

Nick Jankovskis: I don’t get any of my guys to look at their watch during a session. I like to have them record the data and that’s probably about it purely from a factor of I just want to see post-session if I’m not able to be there with them, which a lot of our lot of our guys unfortunately we can’t be there every session with them. But just to be able to say what they did in the session and allow us to monitor fatigue, et cetera. But yeah, I’m exactly the same. I jump in the pool and yeah, I grew up swimming without a watch and I only wear it now purely for the purpose of recording data and then just to get used to it for race day racing tris where I’ve got it for pace and wattage and heart rate on the bike and the run. So it saves me a bit of time in transition trying to chuck it on.

Nick Jankovskis: But ideally, yeah, not really like to wear it in the swim because… pace clocks aren’t too bad through [inaudible 00:22:44]. If you’d understand what your body feels like at given intensities that’s hugely powerful and it transfers to running and cycling as well. If you don’t have to look at a screen to tell you what intensity is, if you can be pretty close and have a pretty good idea in stuff I’ve seen over the last two years anyway the best athletes that have come in and seen us have been able to tell us pretty much exactly what their heart rate should be doing at different intensities.

Nick Jankovskis: If it’s breaking down like they’re running on the treadmill, let’s say four minute K, the four seventeens and they say, “Oh, what’s heart rate,” they could pretty much recall heart rate to be honest. They can tell, “It should be about 165, 170 beats at whatever pace.” And sure enough it’s within about two beats of what they’re telling us. Maybe not to that level. I mean, that’s probably at the extreme end where you can really not go down and identify it, but just going out and being able to understand pace on your own without some of these technologies is extremely useful and shouldn’t be left behind.

Nick Jankovskis: At the same time you’ve got to balance it though with… and this is where just recording the data and having a look at it from an analysis point of view later on is where data is useful, and understanding what happened in that session and how it can improve. And I guess even sort of looking from a swimming perspective, and you could probably touch on more of this, is I’m sure with some of the guys you’re coaching you’re using stopwatches and things like that. At the end of the day it’s still recording data and having a look. You’re just taking that watch element away. So it gives you that benchmark to look at and go, “All right. What do we need to do next session to improve?” And it gives you a baseline to then measure against is probably the big thing. But yeah, you can’t underestimate how powerful it is to understand what your body is doing at different intensities and how you’re going to handle it.

Brenton: Yeah. That baseline. And where you’re at and what you’re doing is crucial. And an example of that is I had my guy, Michael Andrew on the podcast, the previous one actually. And he’s a professional swimmer in the States. The two types of training he does, so the morning session is what’s called ultra short race pace training, which is basically going at a specific race pace, kind of self explanatory, with about 15 seconds rest in between, and you’re looking to hit your race pace in every 25 or every 50 that you’re doing. And if you don’t, basically if you fail three times… or the first time you fail you will sit out that next interval. So you’ll take an extra maybe 45 seconds, then you’ll go the next one. And then if you fail three times then you just stop the set.

Brenton: So it’s being really specific with what pace you’re doing and making sure that you’ve got those times every single time there. And he records all of these 25s, all these 50s every session. I think he’s got that data from years back. And so the way that they, well, he and his coach, his dad is his coach, the way they kind of determine how he’s going and if he’s improving is by they can look back at this data from many, many years and they can see this improvement from when he was a 14 year old kid to now I think he’s about 19.

Brenton: And the other way that they continue to improve is not just in slowly changing how hard these workouts are and how many of the intervals they’re doing but the technique side of things. They’re constantly using the GoPros and cameras to record, make small adjustments to how he’s working his underwaters. And with those two things together and knowing what numbers they’re looking for and try trying to achieve they’ve been very calculated with how he’s been able to improve over the last sort of 10 years since he’s been swimming. That’s an extreme end of things for the average person. That’s not going to happen. But just kind of knowing roughly what paces you should be doing, at what heart rates and so on, that’s when you actually know whether you’re getting better or not.

Brenton: And that’s not only good for knowing how you’re training but I think from a motivation perspective when you see those little improvements come drives you on to do the next bit of training.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah, absolutely. I always look at it in perspective. Data is there to help you and assist and… if it’s not providing anything more useful than what you’re already doing there’s no point in using it. But if it is there giving you let’s say if it’s something to motivate you to hit particular paces but then also show that clear sign of progression or if you’re regressing and going the opposite direction, if you plateauing a bit, you’re going to know through monitoring data over a period of time. If it’s there and it’s useful and it’s implemented correctly that’s where it’s super powerful.

Nick Jankovskis: And that’s where I think a lot of probably more of the old school culture, old school athletes sort of freak out a bit when I say all this technology and data and go, “Oh, there’s just all these numbers and it’s almost overwhelming.” And even from our perspective, I mean, we use TrainingPeaks to analyze and have a look at data and that, and to be completely [inaudible 00:27:51] I look at half of the metrics on there because even then from a sports science perspective there’s just too many numbers sometimes that… Is it doing anything useful to assist me in helping an athlete or is it useful for an athlete to know? Yes or no.

Nick Jankovskis: If it ticks the yes box then great. We’ll talk about we’ll implement it. If it’s no, I’m not even concerned. It’s going to change as we go. We’ve got new technology coming out. A little while ago I think you guys had swim paddles that are going to be measuring power and things like that that you are getting guys to trial out, a whole bunch of different technology and data that we can use. And that’s just the reality of endurance sport, is again, very tech focused and trying to try to nail down the 1 and 2 percent little differences, particularly at elite level but for some people at the amateur age group level. Some of those 1 or 2 percent differences for a pro could mean 10, 15 percent. It’s just finding out which ones, again, are going to be useful.

Nick Jankovskis: The easy one is bike technology for triathletes. So talking to some of the guys who [inaudible 00:29:00] to them about bike fitting and bike time trial position aerodynamics, the difference between frames and what companies say is the most aerodynamic frame really honestly isn’t a lot for the average person. He’s not really going to gain too much. But being aware of your position on the bike and being able to sustain it and learn how to hold a quality position and then doing the training to condition yourself to power that bike is far more important.

Nick Jankovskis: So if the data can help you from that perspective and get you in a comfortable and powerful position and looking at things like you said with using GoPros in the pool and that to assist the technique side of things or the technical side of things, and then I think from a conditioning point of view, yeah, making sure you’re hitting heart rates or paces that are going to provide that positive adaptation. You’re not just doing the same thing again and again and again. That’s where data is going to be or data is its most effective, and that’s where it has its place, being a slave to it and just being stuck on it and going, “I have to look at my watch every 5, 10 seconds because I’m always paranoid about I’m going to not keep my intensity or not be holding the right heart rate,” is definitely not the right way to go about it at all.

Brenton: And one metric that I just can’t stand looking at is on the swim watches with the SWOLF score there. It’s really inaccurate and it doesn’t mean a thing. Whenever someone asks me about it, they’re like, “Oh, this is my SWOLF score. This is kind of how it’s been going.” Don’t worry about it. It is super inaccurate. So just ignore that one because there’s a time and place for looking at how many strokes you’re taking and the pace as well. I don’t know. I’ve moved a long way away from that. And when the number is inaccurate, well, the data doesn’t really mean anything anyway because the… one of the reasons it’s an accurate is because let’s say you wear your watch on your right hand and you take a strike with your left hand first. I don’t think it registers that. And then same with what hand you finish on.

Brenton: So the numbers just don’t mean anything. So just to ignore that. And I find it’s just a distraction. So yeah. The same thing with [inaudible 00:31:14] running clinics and working with swimmers is look at it from the macro perspective. People often ask questions that are too micro focused and they’re not looking at the bigger picture.

Nick Jankovskis: Big picture. Yeah.

Brenton: And what’s really going to contribute to them swimming faster in the next 6 to 12 months. So yeah, don’t be too concerned with the minute details of your stroke where there’s just so much more opportunity available there. So I think from your perspective as well it sounds like that you do tests, VO2 max, you might do your lactate testing. Do your test. You get that data and then once we’ve got that data we just want to use that in our training, and then just kind of forget about that for now and just go about your training. You want to keep it really simple. It’s so easy to get tied up on things.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah, 100%. Like I said before, it’s a case of… I mean if you go out and do a run, and I say it to guys all the time, it’s not the end of the world if… If we’re going out and trying to do a long slow run and you’re trying to hold a heart rate of 140 to 150 beats a minute it’s not the end of the world if your heart rate goes up to 155. Start to back off and obviously as best you can we want to try and keep that heart rate within that zone. But it’s not the end of the world.

Nick Jankovskis: If you’re happy [inaudible 00:32:29] running slow on a particular day those days are going to happen. But at the same time the difference between… And it’s the athletes who get caught up on like, “I was one second per K slower.” The difference between that is so minute that it’s not going to make or break your training. And if there happens to be a session where I’m 10 or 15 seconds per K slower, if it’s one isolated session, one, what was the reason for it? Was it fatigue induced? Was it you had a stressful day at work and you’re just not motivated for the session so you just couldn’t push hard enough? We can pinpoint the reasoning and then we can try and eliminate that for the future and avoid it.

Nick Jankovskis: But one session isn’t going to make or break your four, five, six months prep. For some of the guys doing Ironman they’re probably training for six to eight months prior. One session is going to make or break it. An accumulation of those will. So not being caught up in like you said minute details of the tiny little things in snapshots of time. It’s how does this fit into the whole big picture. And I guess from our perspective it’s looking at your big picture training program or training plan for key race, a key event and going, “Well, I missed three sessions this week because I got sick but I just wouldn’t have been able to get out and do it.” I get the question all the time. Should I make up a session when I’m feeling good?

Nick Jankovskis: More often than not I turn around at athletes and say absolutely not because all you’re going to do is just put yourself back into that cycle of either over fatigue yourself and then you’ll get sick again or you just won’t fully recover from your sickness because you’ll try and go back into it too soon. But yeah, if you miss a session or two six months out it’s not going to have any impact on your race result at all. If you’re missing six weeks of training, different story.

Nick Jankovskis: And again, big, big picture. One hour swim, what percentage of that is out of a six month Ironman training program where potentially athletes doing anywhere between 16 and 20 hours a week what percentage of that total training volume over that six months are you actually missing by missing that session or not quite nailing that session? You’re talking less than 1%. When it accumulates again… so big picture is where you have the issues. But yeah, I couldn’t agree with you completely on that one. You got to think what’s biggest bang for buck?

Nick Jankovskis: And again, coming back to the principle of what we’re using minimal effective dose. What training sessions are going to mean that… potentially some athletes for 70.3 and like some of our guys looking at their big picture some of them are 50, 55 years of age. They still work reasonably full time or close to. Just can’t get out 15, 17 hours a training a week for a 70.3. What’s going to give them the biggest return big picture in terms of their overall health, their injury risk, but then also what’s going to give them the best race result by only training sort of 10, 12 hours a week? How can we get the same big return look, all right, if I have to pick and choose the absolute critical parts, what are they?

Nick Jankovskis: That’s the same with technique. One of the big critical parts to swim technique, and we sort of had a chat about this the other week, is just, well, there’s a whole bunch of things that you could look at but if your body is not sitting in the right position to start with or you’re not aligned that’s a big issue that we need to fix. Tick the big ticket items off first. Once you’ve got through all, sure, that go for the one percenters, and that’s when we start talking about… I mean, from our end you really at that point you want to be first or second in your category in your age group qualifying for world champion. And it’s a difference between you making a championships and you’re not, or at the pro end of the spectrum where prize money is on the line and it’s if I’m not 1% better or half a percent better on race day that’s going to make or break whether I can continue racing that season as a pro and sustain it.

Nick Jankovskis: So that’s where it becomes important, those minute details, right at that pointy end. But for the vast majority of athletes, particularly athletes where you see… From our end we look at it, go it’s such simple big picture fixes that once you explain it and you can sort of, I guess… education is probably the big part. Once you can educate the athlete on how this does fit into the big picture and how we can change quite simple things to produce big results that’s the powerful part of it.

Brenton: I was just talking to Wayne Goldsmith, and he’s kind of almost a consultant to a lot of different sports on how to keep kids in sport. And we were just talking about with younger kids that there’s a big focus on just getting them to do the laps. And he reckons swimming can be the least fun sport for kids because if they came in two hours in the pool and it might just be grinding it out day after day. It’s early mornings. You don’t really get to chat with your friends when you’re doing it. So compare that to say, soccer for example, where even if you are training three hours a day you still get to chat with your friends and it’s a team sport. So what can you do? What can coaches do to keep kids in sport?

Brenton: And it doesn’t matter if a kid’s got this awesome aerobic base from 12 to 16 years of age and he’s got this great VO2 max. If he’s sitting at home at 17 playing Fortnite because the only person you can get to do anything is the person who’s quit the sport. So what can you do to keep it [inaudible 00:38:03]? And I think even from a… adults sort of they typically do the things they want to be doing. So it’s a bit of a different story. But if you’re not having fun and you’re not enjoying yourself then you’ve lost already.

Brenton: So do those things that you enjoy and don’t get too caught up in things if it makes you anxious, if it causes you to stress over these little things. You’ve only got the one life. So you want to live it. You want to enjoy it. And I think… that’s why I think it’s important to use the data but don’t get too caught up in it and having someone… so you will look there to say, “All right. This is what I want you to do. Now go out and do it. Try and hit this heart rate but leave the rest to you. Leave the stress to you [inaudible 00:38:50] deeply into it.”

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. And just to touch on your point about the youth and sport, I guess that’s… people often go, “Oh, yeah. There’s these kids on elite pathway stuff and specialization.” And you see it in adults too. The number of guys I’ve got who’ve trained for Ironman who go, “No. You know what? I don’t want to swim and ride in the next three months. I’m going to go and just do a marathon and I’m just going to run for a bit because I need something different.” Variety in what you do is so critical, and it seems sort of ironic that a sport where you’ve got three sports within it someone needs a bit of variety or a shakeup.

Nick Jankovskis: It still can happen because going out and doing, “I have to swim.” Most of them are pretty routine. “So I have to swim on a Monday, then I’ll have to ride Tuesday, and I’m going to run Wednesday.” Breaking out that routine, doing something completely different or just focusing on one can be enough. But then yeah, at a use level or at a kid’s level with sport… I did a paper on it for my undergrad at uni [inaudible 00:39:53] specialization in kids.

Nick Jankovskis: Even from the fact of, yes, staying in the sport is one thing and trying to retain kids. And you’d know through swimming as well. And we had this issue when I was at Big Center is trying to retain good swimmers who just, yeah, their friends are doing other things. They want to go try other sports, but the commitment for swimming is too high. And if they’re not swimming six times a week or seven times a week the perception is they’re not going to be any good and they’re not going to make teams and things like that. So they just quit completely.

Nick Jankovskis: But all the research from everywhere around the world… I did a lot of my looking into what types of athletes or what kids end up becoming professional in the States given that their population is so massive and they’ve got so many kids competing at such an elite level so early, what percentage of the kids who are going in high school actually make it to NBA, NFL, professional leagues, Olympic Games, et cetera. And it was all the kids who specialized early and just did the one sport from a young age, played baseball, basketball, swimming all year round, that’s all they did, blew up in college and really very rarely made it to the pros.

Nick Jankovskis: I think it was something like 0.14% of all professional athletes in the State when the study was done with kids who’d specialized all the way through. Everyone else had come from a multi-sport background. So they’d played… if we’re talking in terms of Australia they’ve swam, they go and play footy with their mates on the weekend, but then they’re involved in the school’s basketball team. They do different sports. And it was that variety that one build skills across each.

Nick Jankovskis: And it’s the same transference between if you look at triathletes per the example is the requirements and core strength and ability to control your upper body through your core and to your lower body and up and down the chain, that coordination aspect can’t be underestimated from what you achieve in swimming, but then also the transfer of that coordination on to how you lock down your upper body to then drive off the lower body and on the bike and then how you then not allow that upper body to rotate too much when you’re running and allow the legs to do their thing as well.

Nick Jankovskis: So it’s that transference aspect that again it’s gets sort of lost in. If we need to be good at something we need a practice that more and just focus on it. Particularly at a young age, it just doesn’t work. But even at the adult level I see it, particularly some of my older guys who are sort of coming either late into the sport or have been in the sport for a number of years and start to think about, well, they’re starting to wrap things up in their working lives and that with retirement and that. So they’re trying to look at different things they can do.

Nick Jankovskis: I’ve got guys who never touched mountain bikes before now going and racing cross tri- because it’s something different. They would never have ridden through a puddle of mud in their lives and now they’re splashing around on a mountain bike in an off road triathlon race. I mean, something like that, it changes it completely. Yes, it still cycling, but now you’re having to indulge in three single track and hit some rocks and things like that. It just breaks open the sport a bit, gives you a new set of skills, and when they then come back and race, one, they mentally fresh but also, two, they’ve developed the whole bunch of different in that exact example bike control skills that they may or may not have had that are probably going to help them out when they’re on the road anyway.

Nick Jankovskis: So yeah, I’ve always been a big fan for particularly youth athletes, but overall if you’ve got some sort of variety, you’ve got some sort of outlet other than the sport that you’re competing in, great. If you can’t get that in during the season and you really want to focus on your sport off season you have to be doing something different.

Brenton: So parents just keeping the taxi service going and drive their kids around to multiple sports as they’re growing up. And you look at someone like Kyle Chalmers, the 100 freestyler Olympic gold medalist, he-

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah, he could still play AFL footy.

Speaker 2: Yeah, exactly. And I think not only obviously that experience as a footy player is good for him in terms of his physical development, but I think mentally as well it’s kind of… without knowing him to me it seems like because he could still play AFL footy and he might very well do it that when it comes to pressure in competing at a very high level it just seems like it doesn’t affect him nearly as much as it does other swimmers. Look at Cate Campbell for example, who’s kind of buckled under that pressure.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. James Magnussen as well.

Brenton: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Whereas he’s kind of got almost an app whereas he knows he’s got options there. So I don’t think it affects him mentally as much. So it’s good for that side of things too.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. Absolutely. It takes the pressure off because you go, “Well, if it doesn’t turn out here… ” You don’t necessarily have to be a gun. He’s probably an exceptional example where yeah, he could be a professional athlete in a different sport. And you still see it. I mean, you have a look at someone like Ellyse Perry who was for a while playing cricket for Australia and then soccer for Australia and just about everything for Australia at one point of time. Absolutely a gun cricketer but also still a gun soccer player and maybe not the best at soccer. And that’s probably why she ended up transferring and spending 100% of the time in cricket now and kind of scheduling classes, et cetera, and it’s not… yeah. We’re not saying you have to go out and be a pro at all sports.

Nick Jankovskis: You can still have one as your main one, but it’s handy to still have those backups to give you something else. Stay mentally ready to go. But yeah, it takes the pressure off because at the end of the day if you don’t perform well it’s like, well, if you decide later on maybe this isn’t for me, you’ve got something else sitting there ready to go. Whereas if you’ve only got one sport… and the perfect example is Lionel Sanders in triathlon. If anyone’s watched any of his stuff on YouTube he’s so intense about what he does and he sort of admits that as well. He gets right into it and just can’t sort of deviate from it.

Nick Jankovskis: And I reckon that’s what hurts him in the end because he just tries almost too hard to make it work going… If he wasn’t racing Ironman triathlon, what would he be doing? And I know from the outside it’s sort of easy to say, “I don’t really know what he’d be doing,” but he potentially couldn’t answer that question. I think that’s a big thing that if athletes can’t answer that question of, “If you tomorrow couldn’t compete… “

Nick Jankovskis: And it actually just reminds me of a quote one of my junior footy coaches used to say. And it’s sort of a bit of an extreme example, but I remember he used to say in games that sort of meant a bit he would just say before the game, “By the end of this game if you got a concussion, or you broke your leg or something and you could never play footy again would you, one be happy with your performance throughout, one, the season but, two, that game. But then, two, what would you do?” He was a big advocate. He came from PE teaching background of go and try other things because it’s going to help your performance on field and footy. If you like cross country running, go and do that because your aerobic fitness is going to help you be a better midfielder or go and play soccer or basketball because now your hand eye coordination, or your foot eye coordination is a lot more in tune.

Nick Jankovskis: That was an interesting thing that sort of stuck with me in terms of you have a look at some of these pro athletes at the top level that potentially that sport is all they’ve got. No wonder you see them sort of crumble once they leave that sport or something goes wrong because there isn’t anything else to take up that attention. So you can almost sort of prevent that a bit. And I think from a coaching side of things, that’s sort of our role as well to help drive that and prevent some of those downfall or potential downfalls later on.

Nick Jankovskis: But the variety in what you do is going to help your performance in your sport at the time anyway. But also it’s potentially going to give you something post racing, post-career. Once you sort of decided that maybe you’ve had enough it gives you something to go away focus on and maybe you do then reinvent yourself. Plenty examples of athletes. I mean, Cam Wurf in triathlon now a gun. He’s killing races at the moment but didn’t quite make it as a pro cyclist. So he came to triathlon and now he’s the fastest bike on the course. I mean, that’s a perfect example. Probably years ago he didn’t think he was probably going to get into triathlon at the level he’s racing, but having a bit of that ability to transfer across to another sport quite easily and work with components gave him a new challenge is something that’s helping him be probably more successful than he potentially could have been if he stayed in cycling.

Brenton: It’s very easy to get caught just playing in the same field or just kind of get caught doing the same thing because we think that we can’t go out and do different things or we feel like I’ll be too far behind. I’ve just taken up mountain biking and not competing or anything but just riding. I haven’t been on my road bike for three years since doing Ironman, but bought a mountain bike and it is so much fun. And now I’m considering maybe getting back on the road bike. But we’ll wait and see.

Brenton: Yeah, it’s just doing those new things there’s so much opportunity available to get better at it that if you’re at the top end of your sport those little 1% improvements are harder to make. Whereas with something new it’s okay to suck at something, and you’re always going to suck at something the first couple of times you do it, even the first couple of years to do it. But there’s so much room for improving, and that’s what I’m getting a lot of enjoyment out of. Going around berms, so kind of going around corners I can hardly do that properly. I’m just starting to get the cornering right. It’s such a basic part.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. Biking is hard.

Brenton: Yeah. But what I’ve actually taken from that and not just the exercise side of it I’m thinking of… all right. I’m trying to teach myself how to go around these corners and make sure that my correct foot is down and I’m kind of leaning into the corner the right way and lowering that center of gravity, and I’m translating that into how I coach people and what people are probably going through in swimming when they’re trying to learn as well. There’s things to do in swimming and you think it’s just some basic movement. It can’t be that confusing, but trying to just go around a berm on my mountain bike I’m like, “All right. It’s pretty confusing.” And you’ve got to give people enough time to just repeat it and continually make these little improvements along the way. So there’s a lot you can learn from doing something new.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah, absolutely. So spot on from a coach’s perspective. I know training sessions and riding programs inside and out, but racing that program or training off that program I’m still learning. I’m only 22 at the moment. So in terms of my race experience is pretty limited compared to a lot of guys, which is exactly why… You will say mountain bike. My challenge at the moment is I’ve signed myself up for [inaudible 00:51:13] 70.3 at the end of the year mostly from the fact of putting myself through it and going, “All right. How are athletes potentially actually feeling through some of these sessions?” I know that they’re hard. I know that some of them are difficult. I know the science. I definitely know the science behind exactly why I’m giving it to them.

Nick Jankovskis: But what is that person actually going through in that session? And more importantly, what is that person actually going through in that race? What does it feel like when you get 18Ks into a 21K run of a half Ironman and you’ve got nothing left? Not that I hope I get to that point and I hope I have a good race. But in terms of that, I mean, I think if we’re now talking, flipping it the other way and talking to coaches I can’t stress enough that sort of… I guess practice what you preach, but then also, yeah, look to other opportunities to take out a way of teaching or a way of coaching a particular skill and understand how it’s done somewhere else to then maybe apply it back.

Nick Jankovskis: I probably really enjoy the most about working at METS is we don’t just see… we’re not just triathlon and we’re not just swimming. We’re not just cycling. We’re endurance as a whole. Particularly for the trial guys, they’re always wanting to know, “All right. How can I get faster on the bike?” So I instantly look at, well, what are the guys on the gun cyclists doing that I’ve seen come in? What are they doing? What are they doing in time trials? What are they doing position wise? How do they best training to adapt their physiology course, start to apply those principles across? What are some of our gun marathon runners doing that we could maybe apply to some of our own men athletes who are having to run a marathon on dead legs? From a nutrition standpoint, how is some of the guys in triathlon dealing with nutrition over the course of a day?

Nick Jankovskis: So someone who’s riding their first 400, 500 K ride will do like around a bay top event where they’re going to be out there all day for the first time. How can they manage nutrition in a way that maybe we can learn from triathlon. So that transference of skills across to then see things in a different way, and then remembering that as a coach or from our coaches side of things remembering that it seems so easy to us because we’re the expert on it. I think that’s the big thing. It seems so easy that, “All right. I know how to change technique,” or, “I know how to change that training session, adjust it,” trying to explain that to someone else. And I followed this chat with… we’ve got a bunch of sports science interns working with us at the moment who are second year at their degree.

Nick Jankovskis: Every now and then I’ll say something that they just look at me with a blank face and go, “What the hell are you talking about?” And then I turn I go, “Wait, I have to explain this in a way that they’re going to want to stand on their level.” And I think that’s probably just as important as a coach to understand because, yeah, you might be saying it to an athlete and the athlete may just look at you on the day, if you’re doing some swim technique with them or running, they might just turn around and look at you and go, “Oh, yeah, cool. Yup, Yup, Yup.”

Nick Jankovskis: They walk away and 10 minutes later they’ve got no idea what you’ve just said because they’ve just tried to take it all in. They’ve tried to be sort of polite and nice and go, “Wow! You’ve got all this information. Clearly you know what you’re talking about. I just have to take it in and hope something sticks.” From our end we go, “Oh, cool. They just understood it. Great. I’ll just keep explaining it like that.” But eventually someone’s going to come through and go, “I don’t get it.”

Brenton: Yeah. They’ll be honest.

Nick Jankovskis: That’s when it’s the hardest because then you turn around and go, “I’ve only ever explained it that way. How else can I explain it?” And so I guess Luke put a big emphasis when I first started METS on let’s use analogies all the time, and I’ve already used a few today with like engine size, bring it back to a V6 V8. I use my office or our office here in Mulgrave as an analogy all the time. I talk about if we’re trying to improve your ability to get oxygen in into the muscle it’s like, well, the office inside where we’re sitting is the muscle. Outside is the bloodstream. If you’ve only got one door into the office you’ve only got one pathway for oxygen to come in.

Nick Jankovskis: By doing long slow training at high intensity we can manipulate how many doors we have, how many doors are open. Are those doors just a standard swivel or are they a revolving door? Do we just knock out the whole wall and get as much oxygen in as we can? Analogies are like that and trying to find different ways of presenting the information is so critical, because, yeah, like I said, eventually you’re going to get that one person who turns around and goes, “I have no idea what you just said.”

Nick Jankovskis: And they shouldn’t be expected to know what you said unless they’re a swim coach or there’s a sport scientists or they’ve done a degree, et cetera. They’re probably not going to have an idea. And even then they might not be… I’ve had guys come in who’ve done sports science degrees. I’ve had guys do masters degrees in strength conditioning and things like that sit in front of me and still go, “I still don’t get… I haven’t heard any of this before.” And they’ve done probably more study than what I’ve done currently. And it’s just a case of I just see this. I see testing data and training data day in, day out, day in, day out. So I know that really well.

Nick Jankovskis: But even someone who studied some of the concepts before still cannot quite put the pieces together. And so finding the way that you can pretty much guide them through. If the first time you try and take them through it doesn’t work have a second, have a third, have a fourth, have a fifth different way of explaining it because one of them eventually is going to stick. If you give them five different examples and they still can’t get it all right, maybe it’s a communication thing on either end of the spectrum. It’s going to eventually work one way, and then once it does click for them that one goes to the second on the list and you go, “All right. That’s a really good analogy.” And maybe that’s a better analogy or a better way of explaining coaching, describing something than what you originally were using.

Nick Jankovskis: We talk about it all the time. I mean, things that I explain like the office analogy I used before. I don’t think Luke uses that one. He uses turnstiles at the football. If you’ve got one turnstile and you got 100000 people trying to get into the MCG it’s not going to work. We need to build four, five, six, we need to build seven gates around the ground and put 10 turnstiles at each. How are we going to do that? Here’s the type of training that’s going to develop that adaptation. So it’s a little bit what resonates with you, but then also what’s going to capture the athlete’s imagination to understand what you’re talking about and then implement it. It’s underrated I reckon. Absolutely underrated.

Brenton: Yeah. A couple of months ago I had someone comment on one of the videos we put up on YouTube. And I think it was a coach, and just this big paragraph, probably four or five hundred words. I think he was talking about the catch, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. I don’t know if he was trying to sort of up himself and just kind of talk up how much he knew.

Nick Jankovskis: Happens a lot.

Speaker 2: Yeah. As a swim coach who’s done it for 12 years and I can understand anything that you’re saying how is a student going to understand that? It’s someone who you’re trying to teach. So I think the simplest you can make something is the best version of it. One of the things that we talk about is the rotation of your hips and your upper body and basically getting you to connect up the catch in your rotation and getting this extra power through the cross connection through your body.

Brenton: And I explained this. This was up in Noosa. One of the summers who attended she’d kind of heard about how you want to drive from your hips but never really understood it. But the way that I like to describe it, and I heard this years ago and I think it plays really well, is if you are going to throw a ball and you’re not allowed to rotate your upper body or your hips at all you might get it say 20 meters. But as soon as you can throw it like you would a baseball where you can open up through your hips you can open up through your upper body and almost use that upper body and hips as a sling to throw out forwards then you’re just going to get two, three times the distance.

Brenton: And it’s similar in swimming and similar for overhead sports where when you do allow that rotation to come in then you can just get so much more out of it. So we normally explain that and then take them into some drills that involve that rotation and we get them to feel for the difference from not actually rotating forwards to then actually doing it and having them almost do the wrong thing and the right thing. We do this with kind of getting them to feel for how much drag is created if they put the brakes on when their hand extends out in front. Then we get them to do it in the right position. And just to teach them in I think experiential ways is as good as you can do. And then they can get a sense of when they are in the right position and when they’re not, and then they can make that adjustment.

Brenton: And then using analogies because we all like to listen to stories and then our thinking brain just switches off and we’re in the moment. We experienced it without judgment. And that’s why I think, yeah, stories and analogies are the best way to really describe things because no one is kind of thinking in the back of their mind is this guy just… is he full of it or what? But we’re just able to take it in.

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s really interesting. I don’t know if you’ve had it and shared some of those analogies. But every now and then just pops up on social media. We’ve seen athletes we’ve seen previously whether a coaching client or they’ve come in just for testing and every now and then you see it pop up on their feed. They’re talking about how much better their race result was or they’re feeling better in terms of their training and just in the caption underneath they sort of leave a few comments about, “Oh, yeah, like now I’ve got this bigger V8 engine. I can fit more cylinders in.” They’re just talking the same language that you explained it. I think that’s probably the really cool thing is that that’s the confirmation that they understand.

Nick Jankovskis: And if they can then pretty much… and they I don’t necessarily have to repeat it back to you in the same detail, but if they can get all the key points you were trying to get across and they understand it because of the way you presented it that’s what we’re trying to do as a coach at the end of the day is trying to get someone to understand what we’re trying to get them to do really.

Nick Jankovskis: And yeah, we get that sometimes or occasionally we’ve seen… and we know people have obviously been listening to a podcast where we’ve used a very specific analogy and it’s popped up somewhere else on social media or we’ve… I think there was one time where it… I can’t remember where we were. Luke and I had a presentation somewhere or a conference type set up. I can’t remember what I was talking about, but it came up in someone’s presentation. And we kind of just looked at each other and went, “Where have they pulled that one from?” knowing full well pretty much where it’d come from. It was a podcast episode or a video we’d done ages ago.

Nick Jankovskis: And that was the kind of cool thing that… And we’ve always been pretty open book. If you want to take our stuff and [inaudible 01:02:00] reshare. And if you’re so inclined to try and brand as your own, go for it. It’s all going to come back in the end. So we’re happy to just throw stuff out and put it out there and just help educate as best we can to try and get of points across. It’s sort of interesting how athletes resonate with… don’t worry about talking about that top end. As a sports scientist, great. If someone wants to come and have a conversation with me about differences in power meters and the plus minus percentage in left versus right, cool, come and have a conversation with me about it.

Nick Jankovskis: If I start talking about that to an athlete who’s only just bought a tri bike and nothing else it’s just not going to… There’s a time and place and you got to know who your audience is. Because even then, I mean, some athletes are really good with it. We have some guys who are full on. One of the guys I coach at the moment he’s converted his bedroom into basically an altitude chamber. He’s real right into it, has ticked every box and wants to tick every box, and we can start to talk in a bit more of that complex language because he wants to know. And the athlete is going to tell you. If I want to know more and they want to know why they’re going to ask for it.

Nick Jankovskis: Some athletes don’t really care. They just want to know what they have to do. They don’t really want to know the why or need to know the why. So I think you just have to pick your audience as well. And analogies work for most people as a starting point, but then based on who you’re talking to is going to guide where the next part of that conversation goes. I mean, you only have to look as far as any physiology podcast. If you look at any of the ones that are up there that are sort of hour long, hour and a half episodes we have to listen to them for professional development, stuff like that. And we just go, “Oh, get to the point.” There’s so much complex science in there that we understand it.

Nick Jankovskis: Anyone navigating it who’s going… that one athlete who turned and goes, “I want to know about the sports science, but I don’t have a background in it. So I’m kind of starting from scratch.” So they’re taking a really big jump to get up to that. That was the exact reason why our podcast that we started and you jumped on the other week is exactly how it’s set up, is let’s just keep it to common language that we can talk about regardless of who you are, who’s listening to it or who’s on the podcast, having a chat. Anyone is going to be able to understand it because if anyone can understand it then we’re getting our point across, and it’s going to be pretty clear in what we’re trying to achieve.

Nick Jankovskis: If no one’s understanding it then we’re not communicating in the correct way. And if you refine that down to individual one on one work with an athlete if you can’t communicate to your athlete what you need them to do or want them to do they’re not going to be able to execute on that. And they’re probably not going to improve as a result because they’re not going to be doing what is set out for them.

Brenton: Yeah. Completely. And for people who have listened to this and they might be based in Melbourne or somewhere in Australia what’s the best place to get in touch with yourself and the team, and what are the websites and the socials?

Nick Jankovskis: Yeah. So team first, so everything on social and I guess if you look anything up on Google is just METS Performance. So M-E-T-S generally in capitals, Performance is where you can find us. Occasionally it’ll come up as METS Performance Consulting. It’s the same thing. If you’re looking at the logo it’s a little running man with a heart heartbeat symbol in the background. Yeah, we’re on Facebook, Instagram. We’ve got a YouTube page. If you look up METS Mastermind on Google you’ll be able to jump into our free content site, which is all the stuff that we’ve come up with over the last couple of years and it’s got a podcast and it’s got whole bunch of free endurance information, how to build training programs and navigate strength conditioning and a whole bunch of different things.

Nick Jankovskis: That also links to our free Facebook community. There’s over a thousand endurance athletes from Melbourne across Australia and a few international athletes as well, coaches, sports scientists, pretty much just a forum space where we can go into some of those more detailed conversations like I was sort of alluding to before, but also there’s sort of get to know what is happening in the endurance community, what we’re doing here, and maybe pick up some tips.

Nick Jankovskis: In terms of me personally mostly on Instagram is where I spend most of my time. So you can find me at NJ_sportsscience. Or if you check my last name in the notes for the podcast, search it there, a pretty long one. Otherwise on Facebook as well. It’s Nick Jankovskis-sports scientist I think it’s what my Facebook page is called. I haven’t really set that one up fully yet, but they’re the main two. But mostly on Instagram. And then in terms of getting in contact with us either via social, so sending us a message on Instagram or Facebook or if you want to get in touch with me directly to set up a testing session just send a email nick@mets and, yeah, we are happy to set up and happy to help out. So yeah, that’s pretty much it.

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Amazing swimming and fitness podcast

Love, love, love listening to Brenton and his guests. Always learning something new to add to my swim sets with drills or training sets. Also very motivational guests with great tips to add to your fitness routine. I love the stories of the longer distant swims and what’s involved. I’m always smiling after listening to these podcasts!! Thank you so much !!!!



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Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen