Why It Pays Off To Follow The Process With Taren Gesell

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Why It Pays Off To Follow The Process With Taren Gesell

Our guest today is Taren Gesell of the YouTube Channel Triathlon Taren whom we had two analysis videos. The video analysis was six months apart and over that time he really made some impressive improvements and continues to get better.

01:07 How Taren started with Triathlon and YouTube
04:07 What viewers get out off from the Triathlon Taren YouTube Channel
06:05 The Hero and the Guide
07:02 Interviewing Lucy Charles
09:08 Pool and Open water swimming
09:53 Stroke Changes for Open water Swimming
13:29 The Kick
21:46 Letting It Go
24:27 The Way You Do One Thing Is The Way You Do Everything
27:42 Focus On One Thing
33:40 ” I Had To Get Slower Before I Got Faster”
43:38 Have Some Adventure
47:42 What To Expect With Triathlon Taren


Taren’s swim analysis on Youtube:


Brenton: Welcome to the Effortless Swimming Podcast. My guest today is Taren Gesell. Now, if you’ve been following our YouTube channel in the last couple of months, you will have seen two analysis videos of … It’s titled Triathlon Taren. But these are two videos where I analyzed Taren stroke and we did them about six months apart and Taren has made some pretty impressive improvements over that time and it just continues to get better. So Taren, welcome first of all to the podcast.

Taren Gesell: Thanks for having me. I’ve been excited to do everything we’ve done together. When you originally agreed to take a look at my stroke last summer in 2018 I was like, no way. This is going to be fun and it worked out really well. So I’m pumped to be on the call here.

Brenton : Well for those that are listening who may not know about you and your background and I guess you’ve got a big audience on YouTube and through social media, sort of following your journey in triathlon. What’s your background and how’d you get into it?

Taren Gesell: I got into … Well I guess a question, either YouTube or triathlon?

Brenton : Both.

Taren Gesell: Both. Okay. Well, I got into triathlon about 10 years ago and I was not a very healthy person as I was growing up. I had a family that our version of healthy eating was like chicken fingers and homemade Honey Dill sauce and the high end instant fries. That was our healthy eating as I was growing up. And in my early 20s I ballooned up to about 215 pounds and on a 5’8 frame, that’s not a very healthy weight. So in my early or mid-20s, I started gradually losing weight, but I was doing it through bodybuilding and eating boiled chicken breast and didn’t really know what I was doing. I got down to about 175 pounds, but it wasn’t healthy and I didn’t really enjoy it. I certainly didn’t enjoy the eating. I didn’t really enjoy the training because going and lifting dumbbells when I was really solitary by myself and grunting out like dead lifts, it’s not fun.

Taren Gesell: And thankfully I ended up getting fairly injured trying to do a max bench press. And that ended up basically ending for a few months, any sort of weightlifting that I could do. So I started walking on the treadmill one day and then I thought, “Oh, this is boring.” And then I intersperse walking on the treadmill with riding a stationary bike. And then I was riding the stationary bike one day and I look over at the pool and I went, “Yeah, I used to swim as a kid. I betcha I could go in the pool.” And I piece it all together and I remembered that there was a friend who I went to university with who I later found out was an elite, like top 30 in the world, under 19 kind of triathlete. And I called him and I said, “Hey [inaudible 00:02:58], do you think I could do a triathlete? That’s what I’ve been doing lately.”

Taren Gesell: And he went, “Yeah, absolutely.” I said, “Well, how do you do a triathlon?” And being [inaudible 00:03:06] he said, “Well, you enter the race and then you do it and that’s how you become a triathlete.” So that was how I got into it. And that many years later eventually kind of spawned into wanting to have a little bit of a creative outlet. So I started teaching myself how to make videos and I wanted it to be about something that I have the most fun with in my life. And that was doing triathlons. So I started this YouTube channel just kind of kicking around on iMovie and editing some movies on an iPad at first. And that was how it all started.

Brenton : And now you’ve got also 60,000 subscribers on YouTube. So it’s not a small audience by any means. And what do you feel like is really has drawn in the audience? Why do you think people like to watch your videos, what do they get out of them?

Taren Gesell: It’s hard for me to say because I’m not sure if it’s the fact that when I started there wasn’t that many triathlon channels out there. There was iron man, there was the world triathlon channel, and that’s about it. So for the longest time I was just kind of talking into a vacuum and that helped me grow at the start. But there is a-

Brenton : When was that? When did you start?

Taren Gesell: I started four years ago now, almost exactly. And there was a time about two years into it that all I was doing was just giving tips and I was standing in front of a camera just giving tips and I realized that it was kind of a one way conversation. So February 1st of 2017, we changed it to a daily video, which was kind of a vlog format and that’s when it really started expanding because I think people saw what I was doing for a living and they met my wife and they met the people that work with me. They saw my dogs, they saw that I was just an age group or like them trying to fit in triathlon to everyday life. And maybe I’d been in it more years. So I had a few more tips than they had. And it’s hard to say exactly why people tune in. I mean, I’m just kind of a short, slightly chubby guy that isn’t tremendously fast from a really cold country. So it’s still kind of shocks me when people tune in, in the amounts that they have that you mentioned there, it’s kind of baffling to me.

Brenton : And the reason I was sort of asking, yeah, what do people get out of it? I think I sort of asked that in a way where I know that you do give very good tips [inaudible 00:05:53] but it’s also very entertaining. You do it in a way that’s natural and you’re just being yourself and in a way, I think you’re very much the sort of guide. So that why I had it, I sort of heard it a few months ago was, you’ve got the hero and you’ve got the guide in a lot of stories and one of the things that people want to be is they want to be the hero of their own story. And if you can be the guide for them, if you can maybe point them in the right direction, then that’s a much sort of better way to be if you’re the sort of person in front of the camera.

Brenton: And I think you’re there to help people and also entertain and make jokes and all sorts sort of stuff. And I think you do a really good job at that. And one of the things that you’ve also done really well in terms of being the guide is you’ve brought in a lot of high level professional triathletes and high level coaches and you’ve had them on the podcast and on your YouTube channel and just getting all these different perspectives and sharing that. And one of those ones was with Lucy Charles where you’ve done some videoing with her and interviewed her and got a lot of information on what she works on with her swimming and what were some of the things that you learned from Lucy over the last couple of months?

Taren Gesell: Yeah, I got to spend about a week with Lucy and her new husband, Reece Barclay, who is really interesting to see the two of them together because one of the things that I ended up learning from them is how different an open water triathlon stroke is from a pool stroke because Lucy is this amazing open water swimmer that’s setting records and gapping the field with the best athletes in the world. Meanwhile, when she and Reece were growing up and they were swimming in the pool, Reece was way faster. He was a pure pool swimmer and you can see his stroke right now he’s got the really high elbow, recovery. He’s got a really strong kick, like very, very pretty. Whereas Lucy is kind of scrappy. And then when they went into open water, started taking up triathlon, all of a sudden Lucy was way faster and to hear and see them swim side by side and see the differences between their elbows, between their stroke rates, between shoulder driven versus hip driven between their kick. It’s like it’s a completely different sport and to see how different they are when they perform in the pool versus open water. It’s really neat.

Taren Gesell: And then also just the dedication of the amount of yards and meters that they’ve had to swim over the years to become that good is pretty inspiring.

Brenton: Yeah. And it definitely feels like a different sport, doesn’t it? When you go from just swimming in the pool to maybe doing your first open water race, you can get out of it and go, oh my God, what was that like? I remember the first water swim I did, I was about 14 years of age and I was good at distance swimming in the pool, but did my first open water swim and just got beaten by people that shouldn’t have beaten me. And I didn’t even know what siding was. No idea about any of that or drafting. I remember some of the parents talking about drafting and it took me three years to actually understand what that was. And it’s just completely different. So I think one of the things that helps with that is just getting the experience in the open water. You just can’t, you can’t beat the experience in training and racing open water.

Brenton: But then, there are certainly those stroke changes. And what sort of changes have you made in your stroke to go open water? Have you been able to change that in the last couple of years as you’ve gotten more and more experienced in racing?

Taren Gesell: Yeah. One of the things that I battle over the last about 18 months or so is I ended up developing a really, really long slow kind of catch-upy style stroke and I did this because one of the first big swim projects that I did, I want to say it was 2013 or 14. Basically when I became like a proficient swimmer, I wanted to set a bit of a mark in my life that marked a turning point in my life where growing up I was always quite afraid of the water. I overcame that as I got into triathlon and I want to have that stamp of approval that said, I’m not afraid of the water anymore. I’ve changed my life and I decided to do a 27 kilometer open water swim. And I did that and a few years later a couple friends and I, we did another open water swim. This one was 37 kilometers.

Taren Gesell: And in training for that, I trained myself just to go long and slow and be as loose and relaxed as possible. And what I developed was this long catch-upy glidy pausing like kind of a pretty pool stroke but really wasn’t very good for anything besides going long and slow. And over the last 18 months or so, I’ve tried to make that a lot scrappier, a lot quicker with the turnover. Tried to get that into the 70s and 80s, and sometimes even set the tempo trainer up to 100 and see if I can hold that for five or six strokes.

Taren Gesell: And also, in addition to just getting rid of that pause at the front of the stroke, having like firmer arms, I don’t really know a good swim term to describe it, but just being more forceful with the water instead of letting the water kind of turn me into a noodle and just going with it to conserve energy for those nine hours swims being more forceful and punchy. Which you, you commented on, I still have a long way to go, but if you had seen me two years ago, I looked like an 80 year old guy in the pool. That was just like, just out for like, “Oh, I’m out for a little little morning swim.” And I’m trying to get away from that.

Brenton: Yeah. And it’s been good to say those well, the changes. So we did the video late last year and then we did another video a few weeks ago. And if you haven’t seen it yet for those who are listening, jump on YouTube and jump onto our channel and you can see those two before and after videos and the changes are very subtle as you know, one of the things that you changed was you’d improved your kick where you were coming up higher on the up kick. Your heel was just breaking the surface and your thigh was coming up above the hip line and that allows you to have a bit more room and a bit more space to then have a more effective down kick and really subtle changes like that. Add up to a couple of seconds per 100 and to develop your kick, you’ve done quite a bit of work on keeping us through the core and just developing the kick overall. As I know your fellow Gerry Rodrigues’s Tower 26 workouts, what sort of stuff were you doing to help with your kick?

Taren Gesell: Yeah, that was really interesting. If you talk to Gerry or listened to Gerry’s podcast, I’m sure as anyone who hears it will hear inevitably that you aren’t really concerned about your kick as a triathlete. And then my first winter swimming with Gerry, all of a sudden there are sets where 70% of the set was kick and I’m like, “What is going on here?” And he coaches you through all of these workouts and he would explain that we weren’t really kicking for the sake of kicking, like from the sake of getting propulsion up and getting a lot of speed out of it and being able to kick like a one minute, 100 like elite swimmers can. It’s more to tighten up the body and tighten up that kick.

Taren Gesell: And it’s almost like a queue to activate your core because if you’ve got all these real loosey goosey legs that are going and scissor kicking and flailing all over the place and are separating a lot, you’re not going to be really tight in your core and you’re not going to have a lot of body awareness to … I compare it to being like a log getting pushed across the surface of the water. You can push that log across the surface of the water, even if it’s 10,000 pounds and you can push it across the surface of the water really quickly. But a pool noodle, even though it weighs one pound, you can’t really push it across the surface of the water very quickly because it’s all wiggly and loosey Goosey. So the kick was like developing your body from the toes up into that log. So we did a huge amount of kicking, starting with fins, a snorkel and a board. And then we gradually took away the board and then we gradually took away the fins and then we added the fence back in and went onto our side.

Taren Gesell: And then we took the snorkel away on the side and then we added in hand channel swimming with and without the snorkel, just all different kinds of variations of kick that as I was going through it, I’m like, I don’t think I’m getting any faster. And then magically when we started getting away from the pure drill work over the course of this past winter and actually getting into some real good fast pure swimming, my times, they just plummeted like three seconds off per hundred average, four seconds off per hundred average, 10 seconds off per hundred average. And it didn’t feel like I really changed that much when I sent you the video is like, I don’t know if there’s going to be much of a difference from six months ago, but to your trained eye you, you saw, I guess what Gerry had me working on and like you say it was subtle but really effective.

Brenton: Yeah. It’s so interesting isn’t it? I had someone in our membership who had a similar thing in terms of his legs. He had to work on keeping them closer together, more behind the body. They were just splaying out too wide on most of the strokes and like you’re talking about that or there sort of that Leanne loosey goosey behind the body and it was just creating a lot of extra drag. So one of the things that I had him do was wear a [inaudible 00:16:34] boy and band and just get used to keeping the legs in closer together. And he said for, four, and that was five weeks he practiced it and he just didn’t feel like it was making any improvement with it. It just, it was kind of like, I’m just stuck in this rut with it.

Brenton: And then two weeks after that he had this breakthrough moment where his times came down, it was five seconds per hundred for his normal swim sets. And it was a result of just focusing on the legs and what the legs are doing. So, while with a lot of triathletes, yeah, you’re not looking to work on propulsion with them, but you do need to keep them tight. You need to keep that kick effective and that leads into that tightness through the core. So it was really, really good to say because I had to look hard at, I’ve really had to look hard at what were the differences between before and after because they were so subtle. And I had to look at it a few times to see what those differences were.

Brenton: But it was just really interesting to me just as a coach to be able to see a couple months of work on the kick to then see what changes it actually makes when you slow it down on the video. So it’s really, really, really good. And so now one of the things … Oh, sorry, you go.

Taren Gesell: Oh well yeah, I had a question for you. Do you think that you would have had the eye to spot that different say five years ago, 10 years ago?

Brenton: No way. No, not at all. It’s over the last four years, four or five years is when I’ve really started doing a lot more video in with people and I’d like, even today I’m still learning and I still talk with other coaches and I like to get their take on things and they just helped me look for, to look at other aspects of the stroke and in more detail. And no, definitely not. Even two years ago, I don’t think I probably would have spotted that, or necessarily looked for it just because, yeah, I’ve, over the last couple of years has been or it would be at least 3000, if not 4,000 analysis videos that I’ve done with different people over the last few years. And it’s just the more you do it, the more you start to look at things. And this, I guess the easier it becomes. But yeah, it was … And I think taking the time to do it too where I wanted to make sure that I did a good job with this video and that I gave something that was sort of valuable for people watching.

Brenton: And so I really looked at it quite a few times to make sure that I was right in those, in those things. So, yeah, just that alone. And that’s another thing that kind of, I’ll add to my memory bank and then be able to use with other people who might be in a similar situation. So it’s, yeah, no, definitely not. I wouldn’t have seen it a couple of years ago. And our bank action, these two young kids, these two junior kids who I’m helping work towards getting a national time for some of their 1500 meter events and with their kick, well they weren’t doing much kick all in training. And that’s one thing that I’ve been coaching twice a week. 60% of the session is kick for them because especially for those pool swimmers is such a big part of the stroke. And so we’ve just been doing yeah, 56% of the swim sessions is just kick. Some of it’s just longer kick. But we’re also doing a lot of 50’s time just going fast.

Brenton: And in the space of six weeks, these kids dropped down both of them a bit over two seconds in there 50 freestyle and now their 0.04 and 0.1 off their national times. And majority of that I’d say it’s down to their kick. That’s one of the main things we’ve worked on. So, it is really important even though you don’t need it necessarily as a triathlete.

Taren Gesell: That sounds like an awful swim set. 60% of the swims being kick.

Brenton: Well, I used to catch a master squad and whenever I’d put kick up on the board there’s just like, there was a roll of the eyes and people would just switch off. So you’ve got to pick your audience and, but these kids are motivated and they want to get their national time. So as long as I tied into, “This is going to help you.” Then they’ll do it. So it can be a bit hard if you do it with that.

Taren Gesell: Try that with triathletes.

Brenton: Yeah, exactly.

Taren Gesell: I love triathletes like bouncing off the bulkhead going backwards.

Brenton: Oh, it’s like, yeah, that’s right. And Jay can get away with it. He’s got the credentials and everything too. So, yeah, do this kick and it will help. But yeah, try doing that at most squads you’ll have a hard time.

Taren Gesell: Yeah, exactly.

Brenton: And now one of the other things that we looked at was … Well, we talked about is letting go, letting it go just being a bit a bit more assertive in the stroke and not trying to be overly controlled with it. And so how are you going with that, first of all, and, how do you interpret that? I guess that kind of offhanded phrase of just let it go a bit and how do you interpret that and put that into your stroke?

Taren Gesell: That’s actually a really interesting thing because as you said it, I started thinking, okay, well yeah, I think I could be a little bit less mechanical. And by nature I’m really analytical and I want to get each aspect of it right. But then I started looking, actually, interestingly enough at some run footage of me and I went, in that I’m really stiff too. There my upper body is really stiff and I’m trying to hold my arms in a certain position. And I think that that’s kind of just the nature of me as an athlete that I’ve never been a really natural athlete. My brother is a guy that you could give him a ball and be like, all right, so what we’re gonna do is we’re going to throw this ball into that hoop and you’ll score point and he’ll be like, “What’s this called again?”

Taren Gesell: Like basketball, don’t worry about it. And then he’ll go score like 60 points and he could do that right-handed, left-handed. He once won at our yard game Olympics with a broken collarbone playing left-handed. And he’s just that natural athlete that doesn’t have to work at anything. I’ve had to always work at everything and as you mentioned that I should just let it go. I start thinking about just kind of that nature of how I’ve always approached sports that I’ve always looked at it as like, all right, if I can figure out the mechanics of this, I can be successful at it. But I’m at the point now, like you say in my stroke that it’s holding me back because I’m not having that momentum from the arm of just letting it fly. I’m not rotating enough, I’m too stiff. It’s like I’m forcing it and it’s forcing me to think about it in other aspects of the sport and that’ll hopefully make it easier for me to run faster and open up the stride and kind of let it rip and open.

Taren Gesell: It’s just different for me because it’s always been a really stiff approach that I’ve taken to all sports. So, am I going to get there? I really hope so. It’s just a complete paradigm shift for me beyond just that swim.

Brenton: Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? And one of the best pieces of advice I got, I can’t remember who it was from, but it’s the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. And that was more in relation to, if you apply yourself in sport, then usually that will transfer over to your work and to family and everything. So you don’t, you normally see that there’s a lot of similarities in how people approach things and, but I guess it applies as well to maybe that rigidity and stiffness in swimming if that transfers across to the running. And it is certainly one of the harder things to develop in swimming. It’s really the art instead of the science of it. And, yeah, I’m really curious just to see a video of you in the next couple of months’ time to see how you go with just being that little bit looser with it and a bit more assertive in the stroke and just, and getting into that flow.

Brenton: And there’s no reason why you can’t do it with the amount of practice you put into it. And, yeah, it’s just, are you more sort of an engineer type where you just think things through and analyze everything? Or are you more of the airy fairy sort of artsy type?

Taren Gesell: Very much more the engineer type. My mom has a story of when each of us, there are three of us gazelle kits and each of us in the little aquarium that she calls it, that you get wrapped up in the bundle after you’re born and then you get put in this little aquarium. She says that each of us were in those first few hours as humans, the way that we turned out in life. So my brother, the airy fairy guy, he was smiling and looking at all the nurses and making them laugh and that’s what he’s like in life. My sister was screaming bloody murder and I was trying to figure out the world. I was sitting there like, all right okay, I got to figure out what daycare I’m going to go to. I got to think about the pros and cons of this. Yeah, I mean, what am I going to do? Am I going to be a soother person or am I going to be a blanket person? I don’t know.

Taren Gesell: So she says right from day one I was tremendously analytical and that’s how I’ve kind of taken to everything. I’ve always thought that there is not something that I could not figure out. If I was on a desert island and somebody needed heart surgery, I would try my damnedest to figure it out.

Brenton: Oh, that’s so funny. And Yeah, and I think you’ve used that to your advantage, the analytical side of things where yeah, you’ve dug really deep into all of Gerry staff and you’ve worked with Lucy and seen what she does and pulled all of these really good resources and information together and you’ve sort of figured that out and put it into your stroke, which is really good too to see. So, yeah, it’s almost going against what feels natural. And when I’m running clinics, one of the funny things that I often say is we do a filming at the start and then we do analysis and then we do the drills section and we’re working on making a couple of key changes with people. And then we do a final filming at the end. And in the final filming, people are so wrapped up in their head with, “All right, I’ve got to get this right and this right and this right.” And for that last swimming, what was happening for a while there was because I think of so many things now just they were sort of almost not even in their body. They’re just so much up in their head that that’d be focusing on three or four things and none of it would happen.

Brenton: And so what I’ve gotten to do now is just, I say to them, “All right, pick one thing that’s all I want you to worry about.” And then I kind of make a joke with them that you’re going to … Most people are just, so I’m overthinking things that they end up just very mechanical and controlled. So what I want you to do here is just find that natural rhythm and flow as best as you can and just pick one thing to think about. And that has made a world of difference to how that final filming looks at the end because they’re just, they’re much more relaxed. And especially with swimming you’ve got to be relaxed. You’ve got to be not overthinking things to really just get the feel for it. So it’s a very hard one to do, isn’t it? Because as soon as you don’t think about something, then it’s very easy to go back to what your natural habit is. But yeah, it’s finding that balance between the two.

Taren Gesell: Well, I really liked how last year when we started off you, you gave me, I think it was four or five things that you pointed out, but in the end you said, “All right, here’s the first thing I want you to work on. Work on it at the start of a workout, maybe during your warm-up and then just get into the swim.” And I think that’s why it felt like I wasn’t really making that much progress because hey I’m doing a little bit of work on I think it was like, it was my catch that you had me working on the positioning of the catch and the length of the pull through. And I worked on it a little bit in the warm up and then I’d just get on with all my swims over the last bunch of months. And it allowed me to, I think swim without focusing on nine different things. And I relate it to back when I was golfing, if you had to think nine different things with every swing, every ball would be in the bunker or the bushes and swimming’s not that much different.

Taren Gesell: You don’t end up in the bushes, but you can certainly have an awful stroke if you’re thinking about too many things. And I love that you just simplified it down to pick one thing, work on it a little bit at the start of the workout and then just get on with your workout. I love that.

Brenton: And part of the reason that I take that approach now is, when I’m working on my own strike, if I ever do a filming, I know all of the ways to change anything that I need to in my strike. But even then, if I’ve got two things to think about, I’ll usually do none of them because it’s too much for me. So I think, all right, if this is my bread and butter, if I’m thinking about swimming six to eight hours a day because I’m coaching, I might be in the pool and if I can’t, if I could still get confused or if I still forget and I still got you back to those things that I don’t want to try and avoid, then what chances someone who might be in the water for three hours a week and that’s all they’re thinking about, that, that’s three hours of swimming that to think about a week instead of what might be 30.

Brenton: So it’s more of a realistic approach and it’s an easy approach. And, as you know, things don’t happen overnight do they? It’s just, it’s a really gradual progression and it’s incremental and you’ve got to look at it at least 12 months, 18 months in the future, and have that sort of long-term approach. Because if you’re wanting to get down from a 2:15 till 1:45 in the space of six weeks or even six months for that matter, then your time frame’s too short and you’re just going to get frustrated. Was there some, what sort of feelings were you having going through these changes and working on things? Was there some frustration there?

Taren Gesell: Not really at all. It didn’t feel like I was really changing much. I don’t know. I just kind of felt like I was going through the process and trusting that the workouts from Tower 26 combined with doing your drills during the warm-ups, that it would end up resulting in good things. And I very much take the approach that I can’t look at it week by week. I have to look like at most quarter by quarter. It’s like looking at your investment portfolio. If you look at it every single day or every single week, you’re going to freak out and not really think that you’re making much gains. But if you look at just consistent work or patients, whether it’s stocks or swimming, if you’re doing the right things, it’s going to be an upward trajectory. But when you’re in the weeds looking at it on a week by week basis, it might not seem that way. So I really didn’t look at it from the standpoint of am I making progress until, I probably went from August until when you and I did the swim analysis to really see if there was progress.

Taren Gesell: And it wasn’t until probably end of February before I started doing some timed efforts to see if it really manifested in actual faster swimming. So yeah, not a a lot of frustration. It was just kind of like trust that it was going to work out. I had some good people helping me between you and Gerry

Brenton: And I remember you posting a video, you’re just sort of looking at those the data from your watch I believe, and just tracking the overall 100 meter pace over the course of a couple of months. And it was quite an interesting graph. It had some ups, it had some downs, but their overall trajectory was downwards in terms of getting faster. Can you talk a little bit about that data, if you remember that video?

Taren Gesell: Yeah. So what happened there was I got the Garmin 9:35 on, I want to say it was April of last year, 2018 and for some reason people who follow me on Instagram really like seeing how far I swim and how fast I swim. So I’m not a big believer in always swimming with a watch. But I did it just so that I could get the good Instagram photo. And I started tracking my distance swam and the average time per 100 meters or yards depending on what pool I was swimming in. And what happened is from April until my key race, half IRONMAN worlds in South Africa, I saw a slow progression of getting faster and faster as we started, including more and more speed work. And I got a little bit better. And then from that time until middle of January, my time is actually about slower because we’re working on so much technique during the off season with the kicking and tightness in the body and alignment.

Taren Gesell: The time actually went up and I wasn’t tracking this as I was doing it. I was just hit save on my watch and whatever happened and then when I started looking at it for that video, it would have been middle of February, I want to say or end of February, probably middle of February. And we had started doing more speed work and what happened is as soon as we started doing speed work, the times plummeted. So it was like I had built the foundation of swimming and better technique, but I had to get slower before I got faster and now that I am faster, my ceiling of my potential is that much higher than it was last year because within about four weeks of adding in some speed, my times are already faster than the fastest average times that I was putting out last year. So it was really neat to actually start analyzing that and seeing how a season unfold.

Brenton: Yeah, it is really interesting. And it also, I think it terms of the mindset with swimming, when you start to do that, you level up and once you bring that time down another couple of second, what you believe is possible changes as well. And that helps a lot with then getting faster in the next six months, in 12 months. What mentally for you, how has it been, in terms of your belief of what you can do with your swimming? How’s it changed?

Taren Gesell: Well I just did half Ironman Puerto Rico this past weekend and I still don’t think that I’m a front pack swimmer. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a front pack swimmer because that’s often filled with X swimmers and people that are swimming 25, 26 minutes per 1900 meters and a half Ironman. But I got up to the start line and it wasn’t even a question this weekend of am I going to line up right at the front? And sure, I’ll let the front pack swim away from me and I know that I’m not going to get on their feet, but there was no question in my mind of should I be in the second pack or not? Am I capable swimmer enough to, regardless of whether it’s a wetsuit or a non-wetsuit or there’s chop, can I have a successful swim? And this was the fastest by far non wetsuit swim that I’ve ever done and it’s actually faster than some of the previous wetsuits swims that I’ve ever done. So it’s like the swim is not even a factor in most races. I kind of just look at it as a warm-up now.

Brenton: Yeah, it’s so good, we were talking before the call about one of the guys that I do some video for and who’s a part of your team training, he’s banned and this was his first half Ironman race and hade never swim that distance nonstop in the open water. And it was, yeah, it was something that in the back of his mind, he was like, “oh, I don’t know. Hopefully I can make it there continuously. I might need to stop every now and then to get my breath back.” But coming from no swimming background, being afraid of the water, he got through that swim and now he’s tick that one off and it’s just going to add a feather to his cap in terms of confidence in himself and belief in what he can do. It’s just … Did you see him after the race? Did you get to chat to him afterwards?

Taren Gesell: Yeah, we actually went for dinner. I saw him during the race and it was kind of funny when I saw him when were passing each other on the run. My instinct was to go up and hug him. And normally I don’t really even give people thumbs up when they say like, good job Taren. But just to see that Ben actually existed on the run because that meant that he got through the swim. He was so happy and when we went for dinner the next day or the day after, he was thrilled with the fact that he got through that swim and really excited for I think what the next race is going to be.

Brenton: Yeah. It’s so good to see, and as a coach and I’ve coached people from who are quite brand new to swimming to those that are at the very sort of top of their game and everyone’s at different stages in their triathlon or there swimming career and everyone’s got different goals. And once you really get to know people and you get to know what their background is and what their stories and why they’re doing these crazy triathlons or crazy swims and you actually get to see them overcome these fears and achieve these things that they’ve set out to do 12 months in the future. It’s just, yeah, that’s what’s really enjoyable from a coaching perspective, but also just in seeing friends and other people do those things. That’s what I really get a kick out of. And I’m sure you probably see a lot yourself with the amount of people that you’re in contact with through all the stuff that you do.

Taren Gesell: Well, I’m so much more motivated by the people that are working really hard to finish a race and have the confidence to finish a race or starting multiple half Ironmans not making the cutoff time and the next race is the race that they want to actually finish under the cutoff time and that’s their goal. Then I am motivated by like, I’m sorry Lucy, but you’re a fast person trying to be faster or in my case like I wanted to do a 137 half marathon at the end of the half Ironman and I did a 142, like, ah, boo hoo. I think the life changing goals that people set to change who they are as a person, that gets me way more jazzed up than the goals of improving your swim or improving your bike marginally or improving your run marginally. I really like those stories of Ben going from like, as you know when he came and saw me and we did a training camp in September, he couldn’t swim the length of the pool and now he’s a half Ironman now because of the work that you did with him.

Brenton: That’s awesome to say. Yeah. And there’s a friend of mine, I’ve known her for a couple of years. She is doing open water swimming and one of the things that she wanted to do over the summer holidays was swim half of the bay in Melbourne. So Melbourne’s got to Port Phillip Bay and she wanted to do 10 kilometers for 10 days where she’d start at the entrance of the bay and then she would swim around the coast there and make her way up to basically Melbourne city. And I’m looking at this guy, oh my God. I don’t know if I need to put in some serious training and, I don’t know how old she is, but she’s probably Oh shit twice my age. Right. So, and she did this over the summer holidays and got through it. Didn’t complain. Just, yeah, every morning got up and swam the 10k, she had a husband in the Kayak next to her with the feeds and helping with direction and everything.

Brenton: And it’s just incredible to saying 99% of people couldn’t do that, but she just sort of set a set in mind on it. Just did it, it wasn’t an organized event. They just kind of mapped out where they wanted to go and, went down there and did it. And I just look at that and think, man, that’s awesome. That’s something that I would love to do. So it’s very inspiring and it makes me think about what things would get me get me off the couch and and get me out of out of bed in the morning to train and sort of achieve or challenge me I think. So it’s stuff like that that really fires me up, so It’s really cool to see.

Taren Gesell: Yeah, I like the concept of that. The [inaudible 00:43:20] who I mentioned before, that was a really, really talented ITU athlete. He was one of the people that did the 37 kilometer open water swim with us and he was actually our nutrition guy for the first 27 kilometer open water swim that I did. And when we were doing the 37 kilometer open water swim, because it was in a pretty dirty body of water, a lot of people really didn’t like that we were doing it. And his response was always, “Why can’t, you guys just have a sense of adventure.” And people would ask, “Why are you doing this?” “Can three buddies just going on an adventure and try to do something cool that they don’t know that they can do?” And that was his attitude. Like even though he is trying to get to the Olympics as a kid, he’s still trying to find those adventures of feeling that sense of not sure if he can do it or not.

Brenton: Yeah. And that’s what’s really fun. Yeah. I like looking at the map and guide, I’d love to run from here to here. I’d like to bike from here to here or swim from a certain point. And it’s that a … I don’t know, it’s like just that call to adventure. It’s what I think we all, we all really like liked to do as kids and then when we become these grown up in serious adults, we just kind of lose that sense of play and adventure. And yeah, once you get that back, that’s what, I don’t know, that’s what I find most enjoyable. I bought a mountain bike the other week because we’ve got these really good trials around my place, but I’ve just never got the chance to ride them. So I went to a LD, I don’t know if you’ve got LD where you live, but it’s kind of like a supermarket, like a discount supermarket and every week they have these deals and it’s just random things. I might be tense one week it might be cooking stuff another week, last week they had a mountain bike, which was $90 I couldn’t find one secondhand for $90.

Brenton: so I bought a [inaudible 00:45:25] mountain bike, put it together. And for the last couple of days I’ve just been riding around these trials and just kind of going off, not just tracking where I’m going, just exploring and just finding some trials around the place. And it’s been so much fun just getting out there and set off for an hour and a half or two hours and just sort of see where I end up. And yeah, just getting back to that sort of sense of play is really enjoyable. Now, the bike did fall apart two days ago where I had to stop in at my in-laws place and the wheel had almost come off and the handlebars had almost come off. But luckily I I was a K away from my in-laws place and I could get it tightened, but I will eventually upgrade to a better bike, but I just wanted to say if I was going to use it or not. but that was all part of the adventure as well.

Taren Gesell: Sounds like when my wife, Kim and I, we go to Kona often when we travel to anywhere, instead of renting a car, we’ll go and buy some bikes from Target or Walmart or something like that and bike around. And there was one year that we both bought these cheap bikes and Walmart wouldn’t let me actually put it together, so they had to put it together. They wheel it out and they’re like, “Here you are sir, here’s your bike.” And I’m like, “Okay, must be safe.” He probably does this all day. And we ended up going down the hill and I’m going like 40 kilometers an hour and the handlebars fall off. And I’m like, “What the … ?” So I took it back and as we were trying to take it back, the chain on my wife’s bike fell off. I’m like, “All right, give me the tools. I’m going to need these.”

Brenton: Yeah, I think I should have not trusted LD in putting it together. I should have tightened things up a little bit first. But I-

Taren Gesell: I don’t think they’re certified bike mechanics.

Brenton: No, not at all. It’s all part of the fun. So what’s next for you? What have you got coming up in the next couple of months in terms of races? What things have you got in terms of your YouTube channel and other things happening?

Taren Gesell: We’ve got Challenge Roth is the next big race and I might throw another half Ironman in between there. I’m not totally sure, but this is going to be my first full distance race that I’m doing at Challenge Roth and that’s middle of July and interesting project that I’m doing with that is yeah, a guy named Dan Plews who might be actually more familiar with a lot of people from down under. He’s in New Zealand right now. He Won Kona in 2018 he won the amateur race and set the all-time amateur course record in 8 24 and ran something like a to 50, like the fifth fastest run of the day as an amateur. And he’s a sports scientist and the coach of Terenzo Bozzone and he does all of this with a low carb diet and he does the research on it and publishes, I think he’s been published in a couple of dozen papers and he’s actually going to be working with me just as like a fun project to document on YouTube to see how I can or can’t adapt to low carb, high fat training.

Taren Gesell: So we’re doing like fat oxidation testing and I’ve got an adaptation period of three weeks coming up where I’m doing full keto and still training for it and then backing off and re-adding in some of the carbs. So that project is going to be really, really fun. I’m looking forward to that a lot. And the couple of things that you mentioned, we launched team [inaudible 00:49:01] .com at the beginning of the year and just this is like groundbreaking news. This is like the official worldwide announcement just now launched protriathlontraining.com. So that’s where we’ve got the courses that we’ve put together with Lucy talking about how to swim, cam worth, talking about how to bike [inaudible 00:49:25] with how to run Merinda Carfrae, Tim O’donnell and their strength coach Aaron Carson with how to strength train for triathlons.

Taren Gesell: So it’s kind of a neat period where last year at this time all we had was a bunch of YouTube videos and I was thinking, I had my engineer mind like, how in the hell do I make a living off of this? And now we’ve got actual products and things that we are offering and things that we can say like, oh, here’s a program that we’ve put together and think is really cool. And hopefully people think the same thing.

Brenton: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Congratulations on putting everything together, and it takes time doesn’t it? I mean four years ago you started and now it seems like it’s on that trajectory where it’s just, you’re really getting that exponential growth and you deserve it. I mean, the amount of content that you put out there and I know you’ve got a bit of how with that, but it’s still just a video day. Is amazing. I’m lucky if I do one a week. So I think I could maybe I can put it out of course on that. I’ll definitely do that.

Taren Gesell: How to put out more videos?

Brenton: Yeah.

Taren Gesell: Just set your expectations way low.

Brenton: Yeah.

Taren Gesell: That’s all. Don’t worry about them being good. Just talk.

Brenton: If I spend less time in my hair in the morning, I’ll be able to have more time during the day to do it. [crosstalk 00:50:58] I’ll just … Well thanks for joining me on the podcast Taren.

Taren Gesell: Thanks for having me.

Brenton: Been really good chatting with you. And, yeah, you had me on your podcast the other week, which I really enjoyed. And yeah, looking forward to working with you in the future and doing some more follow up videos and then six years down the track when you’re in the front of the pack and you’ve got people on your feet that’d be a good story to tell.

Taren Gesell: Oh yeah. And I’m already planning out my, my finish line. Thank you to Gerry Rodrigues and Brent from Effortless Swimming and now I’m going to Disney world. Like, yeah, you’ll get a mentioned in my winners acceptance speech.

Brenton: Thanks [crosstalk 00:51:40] Thanks so much.

Taren Gesell: Thanks so much for your-

Brenton: [crosstalk 00:51:43].

Taren Gesell: Over the last, last year. You are a big part and the entire stroke wasn’t just Gerry or you, it was a real big team effort. And both of you together. It was great to go through last year, so thanks a lot.

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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