How To Develop Your Character Through Swimming (And What It’s Like Being Ian Thorpe’s Training Partner) with Jason Cram

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


Joining us in this episode is Jason Cram who is a Commonwealth Gold Medalist, diving instructor, and superyacht crew member.

00:43 Jason’s Background
03:51 Dealing With Missing Out On Olympics
07:15 Being Comfortable With The New You
09:04 Without Swimming, I Wouldn’t Be Able To Grow Into The Person That I Am Now”
09:49 Planting A Seed
10:48 Performing Best When The Pressure Is On
16:01 Swimming Is A Sport Where You Operate With Calmness
18:09 Becoming More Of Yourself
19:15 Nervous Energy
20:27 Having A Little Bit Of Fun
22:47 Making It Personable
26:41 Simplifying Data
30:19 Learning From Being A Swimmer To Coaching
40:02 “It’s The Sense Of Achievement That Gives Us The Motivation To Continue”
41:50 Winning The Day Early On

Effortless Swimming Camps
Hawaii Swim Camp
2020 Hell Week Camp (Thailand)

Online Membership
Freestyle Clinics Around Australia


Jason Cram: It was funny just scoping on Facebook as we do in this modern world. And I came across the Effortless Swimming Clinics and it was something that really resonated with me, with my background. I started at a very young age. I was a Wollongong boy on the coast, just South of Sydney and the water was kind of my life and was thrown into the pool at a very young age and kind of stuck it out and went through the kind of the club, the state, the national and international competition of swimming.

Jason Cram: And my discipline was freestyle. I tried many different things, whether it’d be the sprint, the 50, a hundred or into the 1,500, the 800. I don’t know why I did that for a while, but it was a good background. But mainly for me it was the 200 and the 400 freestyle were my main disciplines.

Jason Cram: At the age of 16 I was a pretty good age group swimmer with a gold medalist at the age championships. And then from there that kind of catapulted me into the stepping stones, so to speak, of getting into the international competition on the way for the dream of the Olympics. And it was one of those things that just kept them going through State Championships, National Age Championships and then went through the National Open Championships.

Jason Cram: And in 2002 I was the third place behind Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett in the 200 meter freestyle. And for me still to this date, I think that’s one of my greatest achievements to be behind those two guys who were the fastest at the time, world record holder in their own rights, in their own disciplines. But in the 200 freestyle was one of the highly competitive events on the Australian men’s program.

Jason Cram: From there that put me into the Australian Open Team, which took me on to the Commonwealth Games later that year in Manchester and I swam individually and was sixth in the final at the 200 freestyle. And then also too was a part of our 4 × 200 freestyle relay. And this was the one of the main events like the 4 × 100 for men and the middle real life of women. So that the 4 × 200 freestyle for men was one that we were dominating for so many years.

Jason Cram: And there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of prestige you put on yourself when you become a part of that team. But [inaudible 00:02:30] was a gold medalist at that. And then that kind of continued my progression into next year was on the Australian team again and from there was at the World Championships in Yokohama and also I competed, sorry later that year after Manchester in 2000 [inaudible 00:02:50] Pam Packs and competed there that were in Barcelona.

Jason Cram: And, no, sorry, so long ago that you get them mixed up. Pam Packs where Yokohama and World Champs with Barcelona. Yeah, for those, it was another stepping block onto the way to the Olympics and it was a gold medalist of both of those as a part of our 4 × 200 freestyle relay team. But then in 2004 the big year, which was Athens for the Olympics. It was all prepped, had a really good training, really good taper into that trials. And then unfortunately just by the click of the fingers, I missed out on making a spot for the 2004 Olympics, which yeah, it was a bit of a shock.

Brenton Ford: And what was that feeling like immediately afterwards and then say six to 12 months down the track? Was it something that you were able to come to terms with a reasonably quick amount of time or it was something that stuck with you for a while?

Jason Cram: Think of this. You know me, I’m the analogy queen. Think of this as a little child that wants something for Christmas and that’s all he wants. For a child, 12 months is a very long time and then all of a sudden they don’t get what they want or it comes in a different way and they’re unhappy with that. Well for me, that kind of stretched out for about a 10 year period because it was something that I’d been striving.

Jason Cram: You’ve got to think I was swimming from the age of three all the way up until I retired at the ripe age of 24 so it was my life pretty much for 20 odd years. I didn’t know anything different. Out every morning, to bed late at night. Six nights a week, training and, sorry six days a week, not six nights a week, but six days a week in this routine.

Jason Cram: But then following with school and then when I went through the HSC and finish school, you go into the workplace because you need to be able to support yourself as well. So, yeah, it was a big shock and a big change like what do you do with your life now? Like that’s the biggest thing because all of a sudden you’re building up to something and then that’s something doesn’t happen.

Jason Cram: And it’s another four years of pain, toil and a lot of achievable moments as well, which it’s kind of the highs and lows of the roller coaster I guess if you think of it like that. But it was just like, “Well, what am I doing now? I don’t really want to hang out for another four years.” And the guys I was training with at the time … we had a good core group with Tracy Menzies of six to eight athletes.

Jason Cram: And of those, there was four of those athletes that were actually a part of the Olympic team for 2004. So I was still going to training for six months after missing out on the team. And as I started to get later and later going to training, I realized that, you know what? It’s probably a good idea that I kind of call it and it was like breaking up with someone really. It’s a whole part of you.

Jason Cram: A whole part of your life that you’ve just gone, nah, this is not what I want anymore because it kind of hurts too bad to realize that this is something that I miss out on. This is something that I really wanted and I don’t really want to be going to training every day with people that are going to it and then all of a sudden I’m not a part of it. So it’s kind of that feeling of left out. But yeah, to answer the question, it was really about a 10 year journey to kind of be comfortable with who I was, this new version of me versus the version of me, which was Jason the swimmer.

Brenton Ford: What was it that allowed you to be comfortable with it after 10 years? Was there a moment or was there something that someone had said or what helps you kind of get to that place?

Jason Cram: I think it was at time of sitting back in that 10 years because after that period, I pretty much went straight into working for an event management company after leaving sport. And I was already doing a bit of part-time stuff with them already. And then when I went straight into the kind of full time with them and then just got distracted by the events and using the skills that I’ve learned, the challenge that thinking outside the box, the really kind of pushing yourself to the absolute max to get the job done. It was something that, you kind of took that on board.

Jason Cram: And then the next job was working on a cruise ship over in the Caribbean, working for Disney Cruise Lines, one of the largest corporations in the world. And then seeing a different facet to that and then learning new skills and applying the skills that you learnt from swimming to be able to put into the workplace and working with people and dealing with people.

Jason Cram: And then after that came back to Australia and then was working with Precision Driving Team, which was originally the Toyota Hilux Heroes. And then it turned into the D-max drivers, and we had an amazing group of drivers that we traveled the countryside with and I was doing the commentating side of things and these guys were doing amazing feats behind the wheel, driving to all these different country shows and big Royal shows, the Royal Easter show, it’d be up to 50,000 people that I’d be commentating in front of.

Jason Cram: It was about at that moment where I started to kind of look back on my life a little bit and you go, “You know what? Without swimming, without that kind of background, I wouldn’t be able to grow into the person that I am now and continue to challenge myself and to try and push myself that little bit harder.” So I guess that was kind of the point where I was able to then just take control of my life and say, “Hey, I can do whatever I to do.” And that’s kind of what I do right now. I kind of plant a seed as I call it and then I water it every now and then and eventually it sprouts into something and then it’ll either go into a massive tree or go into something that will lead me off into some complete other different tangent.

Brenton Ford: I like that approach of kind of planting the seed and putting it out there and then just seeing what comes of it, because I think I sort of have a similar thing where I look back at the last, particularly the last five to 10 years when I feel like I’m starting to get a little bit wiser and a little bit smarter with things. And some of those goals that I had set earlier on, they have started to come to fruition and they’ve started to play out. And it’s that planting of the seed. It’s the thought of, “This is where I want to be. This is what I want to be doing. These are the people I want to be around.” And then they just start to come and it doesn’t come from a place of really trying to force it.

Brenton Ford: It’s just letting it happen. And that’s what I’ve seen over the last five to 10 years. You’ve had some pretty interesting jobs, which can be sort of a high press pressure situation or could be very stressful. But by the sounds of it you perform best when the pressure’s on or there can be quite a lot at stake. You work well in that environment. So do you want to talk about maybe one or two situations or things that you’ve done with your work over the last 10 to 15 years where you’ve really had to be on point?

Jason Cram: I think there’s a lot of times where I’ve had to be on point and it comes down to that with the swimming background. You line up and I remember going to the Olympic trials, the Australian Open Championships and as you line up, you’re in the marshaling area and then you kind of come out and they’ve got the music playing, especially for final. They introduce you one by one so that precious building, the precious building and then you can have that pressure that just some people will just fall apart. Other people will rise to the game.

Jason Cram: And I guess that’s happened with everything we look at in life throughout history. But for me, people would know in the stands, especially my parents. If I was that guy, that was after my name was introduced, I kind of was yawning, looking like I’m about to fall asleep. Then I was actually going to perform really well because that yawning actually allowed me to stop without me even knowing something that I did just naturally, I would be able to yawn, be able to stop, be able to take that deep breath, relax, and then just getting to the moment and actually do what it needs to be done.

Jason Cram: And it’s kind of something that I’ve drawn on whether it was commentating front of 50,000 people, which you’ve got all these people in your hand, you’ve got a microphone, you’ve got people screaming and the drivers could be doing one of the slower maneuvers that’s not overly that exciting. But because you’re controlling it with microphone, you can actually get the crowd to abrupt and you can control them. To come into another moment as well where I worked on a private yacht, which I still do these days now, but the last year that I worked on was that a 90 meter X Arctic icebreaker and it was converted into a private yacht.

Jason Cram: We traveled the world with this yacht. I first joined it in French Polynesia and we took it down to Antarctica. And down in Antarctica, It’s the most remote place. Where we were was completely off the beaten track. Not many yachts or cruise ships had actually gone through to that area. And it was one of the … I do remember that was one of the places where it was a landing and I had a lot of experiences because I grew up with surf club as well. So driving the IRB and I was one of the zodiac drivers. And we had like a shore party who was a doctor and a ranger who went ashore and set up just in case the guests that were with us got trapped. And it was a really surgy surf and it was surging probably five to 10 meters up this kind of pebbly Rocky beach.

Jason Cram: The doctor in the Ranger are like, “Yeah, this is fine. We’ll be able to get this ashore. And you timed it. You’re able to time it perfectly. And then the boat would be pretty much beached on the shore until the next surge coming back through, pick the boat back up and you push it back out again. And I went back to the captain and I said, “Look, this is not safe for our guests. This is not a place that I would be taking any of my family members assuring. And it’s someplace that we shouldn’t be taking our people.” So he went back to the guests, the captain went to the guests and said, “Look, we’re not going to go ashore here.” I went back in, picked up thee shore party.

Jason Cram: They were pretty miffed with me. They weren’t very happy at all. But it was one of those things where you were able to sit back and take in the big picture. And the reason that I can relate to that is because when you’re swimming, I remember at the Commonwealth Games and as a part of the 4 × 200 freestyle relay, you were watching what was going on. Grant was first off, Leon Dunne was second, I was the third swimmer and Ian Thorpe was the fourth. And the first two swimmers are in the water and they’re doing their thing and you’re kind of watching, you’re getting up behind the blocks and there’s so much going on around you and then all of a sudden you just have to focus on what you need to do. And as soon as you touch the water, it was like autonomous.

Jason Cram: And It was kind of a similar a moment there where you’re taking everything down in Antarctica that was going on, the whales as well. The penguins, the seals and the shore party trying to get ashore and you just go back and go, “You know what? That’s not the right thing to do. Like we’ve got [inaudible 00:14:58].” There’s a couple of good moments, but there’s been so many where you’ve had to rise up and you’d be able to pull on that mental approach that you have with swimming, that calmness that you can have with it where you can actually look out and see a whole different perspective, a whole different range of things, but also too where you can just get the job done. And when it’s under pressure, it’s usually a lot better under pressure.

Brenton Ford: Yeah. I think swimming has got to be one of the best sports for being able to come and operate from a place of calmness because it’s got that meditation aspect to it where you’re in the water. There’s not much sound happening. You’re focused on your breathing and can really get in the zone. And that’s really the place where I think people can perform best. And I was watching the AFL Grand Final this year, and if you had a look at the two rooms, you had the Richmond Tigers. They’d been there before. They were having fun now laughing. They were really relaxed or as relaxed as you could be before a grand final. And then you look at GWS and they were really amped up and you could tell that they had a lot of nervous tension.

Brenton Ford: And not to say that you can’t win from that place, but you could really see the difference in the two camps. And I know that Richmond actually worked with two guys. One a guy called Nam Baldwin, who I’ve done some surf breathing course, and he’s actually been on this podcast. And one of the things that he teaches is how to use your breathing to come from that place of calm. And another guy, I’ve forgotten his name, it’s Ben Crown, I think.

Brenton Ford: I had a podcast with him and he teaches a very similar thing, but also teaches about vulnerability and just getting the place to gel that way and also to kind of just be open about what they’re feeling and the thoughts that they’re having. And so those two things I reckon are really, really valuable, especially from a team environment, but also personally because if you’re operating from that sort of position of calmness, of being open with things in truth and honesty, that’s a really good way to them be able to make the right decisions.

Brenton Ford: And with you in Antarctica, if you’re worried about what the guests or the captain or the shore party might think because of you caught me calling it off, then you may not have done it and something really bad could have gone wrong just because you didn’t want to rub people the wrong way. But when you come from that place, I think it really makes a difference.

Jason Cram: And I think a lot of that comes too with age as well. As I’m getting on, you start to realize that you’ve got to be able to focus on what is important and not necessarily what everybody else is thinking. And back to my on the team, I was pretty much five years on the Australian swim team. And I remember having with one of your other coaches, Mitch, we’re having a chat about it. And when you’re on the national team, you were yourself, but you were the best version of yourself in terms of what you thought how you should be, how you should act as an Australian world-class swimmer. And it wasn’t necessarily who you wanted to be. It was kind of like a bit of an act at the same time.

Jason Cram: And then as I’m getting older and in my life, I’m actually becoming a little bit more of myself, which can be really amped up but can be really quite analytical at the same time. So it’s an interesting thing that you get as you get older where you just learn to focus on what’s sort of important. But just to bring up what you said about with the nervous energy, it’s good to have the nervous energy because then you’re able to actually feel it and know that this is something that’s really important to you and then this is where you’re able to switch it off and actually can focus on what you need to do.

Jason Cram: I’ve got an example of that where I went from meeting with one of the seeds that I’ve planted and I planted these many years ago when I was swimming and I’ve always wanted to work in television and I had a meeting with a television producer and I was nervous I’ve ever been, even probably more nervous than when I was at Commonwealth Games because that was a bit of a blur and it was because of, I said to him, it was mainly because the nerves are mainly because this is something that I really want to do, but the reality is I have no control over whether it’s something I’m going to do or not. It’s just something that I really want to do.

Jason Cram: So I’m just trying to put my best face forward and this is who I am, this is how I am. And they’ll either like it or they won’t like it because there’s a lot of things that we don’t have control over. But the only thing that we have control over really is us and how we react to a situation.

Brenton Ford: Yeah. And that’s something that I can relate with. Even with coaching over the last, I started 11 years ago, I think it was coaching and when I … even the first five or six years, I was really serious about things. It was rare to sort of have a laugh and yeah, you want to make training enjoyable, but I was always coming at it from a very sort of serious perspective. And then especially the last couple of years, I’ve been able to … yes, it’s serious enough where you’re getting people results and you’re giving them the right sessions and all that.

Jason Cram: Of course, yeah.

Brenton Ford: But people really, they want to have fun, they want to enjoy it, they want to have a laugh. And that’s how they learn a lot better as well. And in terms of training in a squad, if your coach is going to be breathing down your neck every single session, you’re not going to enjoy it. You’re probably not going to stick around. So if you can still do the work and you can have a laugh while you’re doing it and enjoy that, well that’s a lot more fun for the coach and the swimmers. So I’ve tried to really take that into the clinics, but also really the camps that we run, like how week this year, it was so much fun. We had a couple of coaches over there who I’ve gotten to know really well now.

Brenton Ford: A lot of the swimmers are people who have been to three or four times to previous camps and it’s kind of like hanging out with friends and yeah, we still get people what they need and what they wanted, but we had a lot of fun with it and that’s so much more enjoyable for everyone. And I think if I was to coach a squad again, that’s the kind of approach I’d like to make. And I look at, I think it’s Dane Boxell. Swimming Australia put out a video that they’d miked up Dean Boxell and recorded a swimming session. I don’t know if you saw that.

Jason Cram: Actually I watched that not long ago.

Brenton Ford: So funny. He’s just cracking jokes left, right and center, kind of giving his swimmers a little bit of crap along the way. Using some good analogies to get them to be able to race well. Like he was talking to one of the swimmers is like, “When you’ve got your swimsuit on, you’re a Batwoman,” I think it is. He keeps drilling that into it. And I’m like that would be a really fun squad to train in if he’s like that every session. So I really liked that approach.

Jason Cram: And you know what? It’s that fine balance between the both, especially from a coaching squad. And it doesn’t have to be for the young guys. It can be for the adults as well. It has to be that fine balance between giving the athlete what they want, but also to making it personable as well. Because you can always be so technical all the times, but you’ve got to be able to have a laugh and have a joke because in the end, you know what? It doesn’t matter who you are in the world. And over my time, I’ve met some of the most famous people in this world. I don’t like to name drop, but you named it the celebrity, you name the politician. I probably met them in some way, shape or form or had an interaction with them. And you know what? They’re just people there.

Jason Cram: They’re all the same. And if you can have a chat with them and realize that they are just people. It just makes it so much easier. You can still get what you want out of them or they can still get what they want from you. But we still need that personable approach. And I think sometimes we lose that a little bit, especially in sports where everything’s so data orientated these days. I know that was something that we talked about earlier that we wanted to touch on like things that have changed over the years and when I help you guys out with it for me, I love doing it because the data’s right there, right in front of you. Most humans are visual people that need to be able to see it.

Jason Cram: And when you see yourself on the video straight away, people are like, “Oh wow, is that what I look like?” And I always put the analogy of there’s like you, when you go out, you spent a couple of hours getting ready. Before you go out, you look at yourself in the mirror. Yeah, that’s great. And then the next day you look at the photos online or you look at the photos a couple of days later and go, “Wow, is that what I look like?” It’s completely different because we have a different perceived idea of what we actually look like. But I love that kind of analogy of just piecing it all together because the technology that we have right now is phenomenal, where you can actually video it within a couple of minutes. You can actually see it straight back. And then with the program you guys use, we’re able to draw lines and work out different angles, degrees and can go into that technical side of things.

Jason Cram: But then at the same time you can kind of make it a little bit personable too because most people are shocked to see what they look like, especially for the first time. And it’s kind of that technology that we only started getting at the first Quantum in 99. I remember going to a swimming camp and we’re using the underwater videography, which was the diver, the scuba diver kitting out with all these gear and blowing bubbles in your face. It’s just moving past him and the massive camera under is almost like a television camera under the water that he was trying to film you on. It was still kind of a new technology they used to film from the outside and get your recovery and all that sort of stuff and your stroke rate.

Jason Cram: But these days where you’ve got all the underwater cameras, now you can actually break everything down with the high definition cameras as well. You can even slow it down to actually work out exactly what the muscles are doing at each point without the stroke. So from a technology point of view, that’s amazing. But you look at it from the other side with the kids these days with Facebook, and I don’t know how they handle that social media side of things because social media can make or break you pretty darn quickly, something that we never really had back in our time. We used to have the fan mail, which was sent from an Australia post and it was letters from the school kids that was sent across in a mail bag, which was really cute. I still got a few of them, but yeah, it was just like, I don’t know how the kids these days in this really hope because obviously mental illness is a big thing going on in this world right now.

Brenton Ford: Yeah. I think we were really lucky to grow up when we did like it. Sort of just missed that side of things. And even now that technology is so addictive and I just think of that with myself. Like I just actively turn the phone off at times because I’m like, geez, I’ve gone down the rabbit hole for 30 minutes, 60 minutes here and I’ve got nothing done and my brain’s kind of fried from it. And that’s from an adult …

Jason Cram: But you know the funniest bloopers though that have happened where people fall over or the latest thing that’s happened on television or whatever TV show, whatever reality TV show it is because that rabbit hole is just taking me there for 30. I love YouTube, but you start looking at one video, let’s say it’s a swimming video you’re looking at and then all of a sudden you end up watching something about whales and dolphins and [crosstalk 00:26:50] 30 minutes later like how do I get across to this?

Brenton Ford: That’s right. Yeah. I’m kind of going back to one of the things you mentioned earlier like you’ve got the data there but then bring it back into … or how do you use that data to then improve? I was talking to a friend who he’s worked for an NBA team and now he’s working for a team in the, what do you call it? Well, the baseball league over in the States that the-

Jason Cram: [inaudible 00:27:18].

Brenton Ford: I can’t think what the acronym is, but yeah, he’s working for a team there and he’s working with a pitcher and they basically every single pitch that anyone in the NBL, whatever it is, it gets recorded and there’s a hundred and like 30 games a season, like a massive amount of games. Every single pitch by every person is recorded in terms of where the release point was, where it landed, the speed of it, the spin.

Brenton Ford: There’s so much data there. And this pitcher came to him and he was having a really bad start to the season and he came to my friend and he said, “All right, can you help me just improve my pitch? I just don’t know what’s going on.” And so they look at all this data and basically as the season went on, his release point kept varying and varying. And so what they want is their release point to be exactly the same every single pitch because then it’s much harder for the batter to be able to read it. So if there are released at the same point, but they can throw different speeds, different curves and all of this, then.

Jason Cram: That’s interesting.

Brenton Ford: And so they looked at all this data and said, “Yeah, as the season went on he just kept getting wider and wider and more varied with his pitching release point.” And so that basically came down to fatigue and tightness through his hip. So of all this data, what it came down to was they just had the physios work on his hip flexibility throughout the season and then his release point just pretty much stayed exactly the same for the entire season. And I think he said he won pitcher of the entire league almost like the Brownlow Medal in AFL.

Brenton Ford: And all it came down to was just making sure he’s hip flexibility was all right throughout the entire season of the 130 odd games. And I like being able to take that data that the video that we get and then you’d kind of boil it down to two or three things, maybe cues, maybe things that they should think about, and being able to distill it that way, because there is so much to take in when you’re watching someone swim. I remember when I first started looking at video, it’s like, “Oh geez, where do you start and how do you break it down?” But the more you do it, the more you can just sort of look at it and then automatically you’ve got these couple of things that you go, all right, this is what we’ll talk about and this is how we’ll keep it really for that swimmer. What have you found going from being a swimmer to now coaching people at clinics? What have been some of the main things that you’ve learnt going from those two things?

Jason Cram: You know what? It kind of led into where I was thinking anyway, the question that you’ve just given me, because when I reached out to you, I love the fact about these clinics and then when I actually went to one and trialed it and went, “Wow this is absolutely amazing.” And it comes down to something that would happen because there’s always the story when you meet a new person or where did you come from? What have you done? That sort of thing. The general chit chat and then you talk about, Oh, I used to be a world-class swimmer. Oh, I’m a really good swimmer. You should watch me swim.” Okay, cool. So then you were at a pool or at the beach or whatever. I’ll watch them swim and straight away I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, that’s good.”

Jason Cram: But I’m thinking inside my head, “Oh, it’s less than ideal.” And what it is you watch most people who say that they can swim and 95 … I would go say 90 to 95% of them are actually just surviving. They might move through the water, not too bad, but they’re actually only surviving. And there’s probably only about 5% of people …. five to 10% of people I’d say in the world that can actually swim really good. And it comes down to one simple thing and it’s your breath. It’s how you breathe because water is not our natural environment. And the more that I did the clinics, the more I was able to kind of draw on the, all these different analogies. And that’s kind of one of them that I use. And you watch most of the athletes that are participating in the clinics and all of a sudden they just start … they kind of have a smoke on their face or they laugh or they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s me.” Because it kind of really clicks with them that …

Jason Cram: And then you’re not obviously trying to insult them, you’re trying just to say, “Look, this is what I see from an athlete perspective competing at the highest level. And you try to then put it into their terms and just say, “Look, it comes down to whether you can breathe or not. Whether you’re comfortable breathing or whether you’re reaching around pretty much laying aside and gasping for air.” That’s where yoga and meditation really comes into its own to actually bring together as a part of swimming because once you’re able to breathe properly, then all of a sudden you can swim pretty damn good as well. Because the rest of it’s just the technical and moving the arm a different way. And I think the other thing that I really found was that a lot of the key things we’re the same.

Jason Cram: With the athletes that I’ve worked with previously, I would watch the video and then I’d go through and give them the analysis. And it’d be like one, two and three. Then the next person would come into the hot seat as I call it to watch their video. And it’d be like one and two are exactly the same as one and two on the person before. And then the next person, there’s one and two things that are exactly the one those, so I didn’t have to make the joke. Well, it actually is pretty something that’s common that we’re trying to change here because most people would be just like, “Hang on, is this guy just taking the Mickey out of us?” By just saying, “Oh,” the same thing and everyone, but you watch them and then you identify with it and straight away you know those key things.

Jason Cram: And it’s pretty simple for an athlete or a coach who’s been in that business for so long. It’s like everything. You become very astute and alert to what’s kind of going on around you. And straight away I can see with so many different athletes different things. I can watch somebody in the pool. And I know my girlfriend really hates it when I go up and just, if I’m swimming in the pool now and I just go, “Oh, can I just give you a couple of tips? Like maybe lower your head or whatever else. I’m giving this for free.” And then she’s like, “Why do you go up and do that for?” And I’m like, “Well, if they don’t do that, they’re going to hurt themselves.” And that’s the thing. Sometimes you can actually go to someone straight away and go, “Do you have a lower back problem?”

Jason Cram: And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah I do.” And I’m like, “Well, if you just change this and your stroke, that might help it a little bit.” And then they try it a couple of hundred later that’d be like, “Oh wow, that makes a big difference. There’s not that much pressure on my lower back.” So I’m like, “Okay, cool.” But then my girlfriend’s like, “Why do you keep on doing that?” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know. I just like to give.” And I think that’s the thing about it is that you’ve got 20 years of experience in something at the highest level to the highest degree and you just want to be able to give back and help out what you can. And for me that’s simplest thing where I can help out.

Brenton Ford: Yeah, that’s probably the difference between you and I is I’ll go to the pool and it’s automatically, you’re like looking at people swimming and you’re going, “Oh, if you only did this and this, that would make a huge difference.”

Jason Cram: But you’ve got a business to run.

Brenton Ford: I don’t know. I’ve said it a couple times. I’ve told people like, “Yeah, if you just did this and this,” but I think … I don’t know. Maybe not necessarily like a confidence thing or it’s just like different personalities I think. Like you’re much more outgoing. Whereas I’m a little bit less so, so I’m less inclined to just go up and speak to a stranger and tell him something. It can make a big difference. And as long as they’re … like if they’re receptive to it, then it can make a massive difference to them. So it’s funny.

Jason Cram: I remember working with a … I wasn’t even working, I was just at the pool, an outdoor pool just here in Sydney and just doing some laps. And there was a young kid and it was it a Sunday morning and there was a young kid working with a coach and the mum was there and I just went up to them at the end of the session. I sat and watched him for quite a bit and meant that I wasn’t swimming much, but that’s all right. I’ve got plenty of years of kilometers under my belt. But at the end of my little swim, when I was about to get out, I just went over and introduced myself and I said, “Is it all right if I just give a couple of pointers?” And I spent about 15, 20 minutes with young boy helping him by actual doing the turns.

Jason Cram: That’s what he was trying to practice, doing his turns and showed him a few little tricks and like elite tricks that we did just to get the most out of your streamline coming off the wall, head position, that sort of thing. How we actually use the momentum to get into the turn as well. And that costs me nothing but that little boy had a beaming smile on his face. Look, it does help when you follow it up with, “I’m Jason Cram. I was a world class swimmer. I trained with Aimee Thought for five years.” People will sit and take notice straight away and you’re like, “Okay, well maybe this guy knows what he’s on about.” And then you can actually show them what they were doing and show them why you think the improvements are actually better for you.

Jason Cram: And you can see the difference. And it might not be necessarily a speed thing and might not make them go any faster, but it might make them a little less fatigued, which is going to, in the long term actually make them go faster. So it’s not always straight away going to be 100% change. It sometimes takes time, like everything in life. But if you can start with the processes and change it piece by piece, then all of a sudden, it’ll all come together eventually using my analogy, you plant the seed and it doesn’t matter how many seeds you plant, but you keep watering them and eventually it’s going to grow into whatever it is and whether that’s your stroke catch, whether that’s your kick, whether that’s your head position, body position, whatever it is, you keep doing it, maybe once or twice a session or three or four times a session, build it up, build it up, and then all of a sudden it eventually it’ll click.

Jason Cram: And for that little boy, you can see he had a beaming looking at his face. And look, I’m not walking around with the medals around my neck and that sort of thing. But the good old day Google, “Look if you don’t believe me, you can Google. This is who I am, this is my face, this is what I look like.” And for me, I’ve just loved doing that because it’s a part of who I am. It was a big part of who I am and I love to be able to share the knowledge that I have with other people, if that might benefit them.

Brenton Ford: Letting people know that that’s your background, it gives you the credibility for them to then be open to making those changes. So it’s not like you’re going round and talking about how great you are. That’s what makes them open, but you also have that much experience in the sport and you figured out so much stuff as you’ve gone through it, that it’s a disservice to not share that stuff, especially with those young swimmers who may never have come across that sort of experience and knowledge before.

Brenton Ford: I find with kids, especially those ones that really want to learn and when you can actually help them, they really feel like, “Maybe I can really go somewhere, maybe I can really do something.” And it doesn’t matter whether they go on to make an Australian team or anything, but for that kid may be making a state time or a national time is a huge deal for them. I think back to my swimming, like my best was, I think it was fifth in the 400 IM at Age Nationals. And for me that was a massive deal and a massive thing. I look back at that and go, “Geez, that took a lot of hard work to get there.”

Jason Cram: Absolutely.

Brenton Ford: And so I look at someone who makes an Australian team, whatever, it’s all relative to the people you compare yourself to and what you feel is a good achievement. So it doesn’t really matter where people are at. Everyone’s kind of on their own journey with it.

Jason Cram: And you know what? You actually nailed it on the head because it doesn’t matter what the goal is. It doesn’t matter what your CV is. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, as long as you’ve got something and then you’re working towards it and then you achieve it. It’s that sense of achievement that gives us the motivation to continue on and doing the next level. And I go through every day because I’ve come from such a background in sport that to get motivated to get out there and do stuff, you know, you’ve got to do it, otherwise your body is going to fall apart. That’s the only thing that we kind of have to keep us going between that and diet, like exercise and diet, but just to get the motivation some mornings to actually either jump in the pool or jump on the bike or go for a walk, can be so overpowering to say, no, I don’t need to do that.

Jason Cram: No, I don’t want to do that. But just to get yourself out and actually do it is something that you’ve put yourself to, you’ve done it and then you’ve achieved it. And I go through that and the daily struggle. My life is my work that I do now working in a private yacht and working for a family, a wealthy family in Sydney, it’s very active but you still need to do something on top of that as well. And it’s mainly to kind of clear your head space to try and settle yourself back in. So it doesn’t matter what kind of background you’ve got, you’re still got a little goals that you need to be able to achieve.

Jason Cram: And it can be simple as making the bed in the morning, just trying to do that every single day of the week. Or it might be trying to get up at six o’clock in the morning, just trying to set little goals to training to achieve them. And that’s what the human spirit is about. Like sending little things and trying to achieve them. Having the obstacles to overcome the adversity that overcome and could keep pushing forward.

Brenton Ford: I’m happiest when I’ve got those targets set or I’ve got the routine that I want to be in and I’m doing that every day. And when we’re in Thailand for our holiday camps every morning, Mitch [Keavy 00:00:41:31], not Mitch Patterson, but another Mitch, we’d get up every morning at quarter to five and we’d run. And we did that for the two and a half weeks that we’re over in Thailand for, except for one day where we had a day off. But we did that every single morning. And regardless of how he felt, what time he went to bed, we’d just get up and do it. And I’ve managed to be able to do that nearly every day since I’ve been home. And when I do it, when I get out the door at five o’clock run for at least half an hour, that’s a really good start to the day.

Brenton Ford: And I think from having that background of swimming and early mornings and early starts …. If I’m not in an early morning routine of waking up early and doing some sort of exercise, I feel like I’ve lost the day. And I like having that win at the start. And so that’s what I’m trying to keep up is just doing some sort of exercise in the morning and just being in that routine because that is when I sort of feel like I’m in control of things a lot more. Whereas if I wake up late, I tend to eat worse, have more coffee and just not get as much done. So for me, it’s all about winning the day early on.

Jason Cram: I’m the other version of you where I sleep in, have too much coffee because [inaudible 00:42:45] in the afternoon. But you know what? We just got back from an amazing dive trip on the yacht that I work on and I’m the scuba diver on the boat and go down with the owners and make sure that they’re safe and do the underwater videography as well, which is something that I absolutely love. And every morning we’re up flying from five, 5:30 sort of thing or my watch if the boat was moving was from 4:00 AM in the morning till 8:00 AM and then 4:00 PM in the afternoon to 8:00 PM if the boat was moving. And so you’re up for the sunrises and the sunsets. And where we were in Indonesia with some of the best sunsets and sunrises I have seen anywhere in the world because we were pretty close to the equator and it just energized you, either for your day or was able to wind you down for the end of the night.

Jason Cram: It also helped in between that. There was a lot of diving, doing three to four dives a day and some of the most incredible animals you will see. Everything from eight meter whale sharks. We had five different whale sharks swimming around us at one point, one on two days at the dives and in the early couple of weeks, some of the most amazing brief life you’ll ever see or we even found like three different types of pygmy seahorses. Now look at, what am I looking at? I’m looking at like a USB cable and like a micro USB cable and look at the little plug at the end of that. If you’ve got a Samsung phone or one of those Android phones or headphones, look at that little plug and that’s the size of the creature that we’re looking at. And that’s a sea horse.

Jason Cram: And we found those in the middle of the ocean with the help of our diet guide. And for me being up in that morning, being in that routine is something that I do miss. What you have to do, when you have to do it, at what time you have to do. And of course, there’s always things that are thrown in different tangents, scuba equipment starts to fail, camera’s are tripping out or something else. So you’re always fixing something. But just to be in that routine is something that it does speak volumes and coming from 20 years of that routine, especially when I was into my early teenage years, all the way through to my early 20s, from four o’clock in the morning, I go training two and a half hours in the pool, two and a half hours at nighttime in the pool.

Jason Cram: And then you’ve got your gym that you put in there half an hour in the morning before the pool, an hour after you’ve done the morning session and then an hour and a half after the session in the afternoon and you’re doing that six days a week. That’s the routine. That’s what my body knows. So I guess I could have a few mornings off sleeping in. But it’s good to know that putting yourself back into that routine just makes everything so much simpler. And you look at kids as well. You’ve got a couple of kids and the moment that you put them out of their routine, everything just goes completely anarchy and it’s to quote the joke from Batman. And it’s one of those things we just have to have everything in place and just be consistent. And sometimes that’s the hardest thing is being consistent because there’s so many different options out there these days.

Brenton Ford: Yeah. I can completely agree. And it’s all about what suits you best as well. It sounds like you’re more of a night hour than an early morning.

Jason Cram: Well, I think I’ve just done too many damn early mornings that I don’t want it. But the funny thing is if I’m put into a routine when it’s early morning, I’m fine. I’m happy with that. But if I don’t have to be up, I won’t get up.

Brenton Ford: Yeah. Well, I guess for me now, especially like the kids are up at just after six and if I don’t get something done before that, then good luck trying to get much done for any part of the day. So I’ve got to get it done early. So I guess that’s the driving force at the moment. But I’ve really enjoyed chatting to you on the podcast and I know we’ve been out, I have a few good chats in person, but it’s always good to do this and I appreciate your sharing your experience and a lot of the lessons that you’ve learned over the last, I guess 20 plus years of your swimming and being an adult. So thanks very much mate. Is there any way that you’d like to … if someone wants to get in contact with you, what’s the best way to do so?

Jason Cram: Look, the best way is probably through you. That’d be the easiest way. Come through the athlete swimming background and if you want to do some clinics, come down and see us at the clinics. I don’t do a lot of them because my full time takes a lot of my time. But I try and do as many as I can. But if somebody wants to get in contact, get in contact with Brenton through Effortless Swimming, and I’m more than happy to answer questions, more than happy to chat, because sometimes in life that’s what we need. Sometimes we just need to chat.


Read More

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 !!!!



Join the 5 Day Catch Challenge
for Only $10


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur
sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Already have an account? Sign in.

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