I set off for Switzerland on Monday afternoon and when I landed in Geneva I was cutting it very fine for catching the last train to Leysin but it seemed to go like clockwork and I made the trains and connections without a problem. When I arrived in Leysin late that night it felt like I was the only person there. In pitch blackness I somehow very easily managed to find my accommodation and got to bed ready for my first swim at 7.30 the next morning.
It was Tamsin Lewis that put me in touch with Brett Sutton. Tam had been coached by him when she first turned professional and although she didn’t stay with him and the team (Team TBB) they still keep in contact and she has great respect for him. She had shared some stories of her time there, what she thought and how she felt about Brett and the training. Each time I heard these stories I said ‘I think that’s the kind of training that would suit me’. She agreed and when we were training at Tri Pyrenees in the summer she put Brett and I in touch and he agreed to give me a trial or ‘take a look’ (with no promises). As someone who embraces change and loves a challenge this was one opportunity I wasn’t going to turn down!
On the first morning after finding my way to the pool I made my way on to poolside and as I arrived I was greeted by two athletes one of which was Nicola Spirig, Olympic Champion the other was Reto Hug! I didn’t really know what to say…’umm well done in that wee race in London…’ I just kind of sat there thinking ‘wow, this is THE CHAMP!’ Brett arrived and we set off for the first swim set. Not many words were exchanged at that point and after swimming he showed me the sights (i.e. trails and training spots) of Leysin and we agreed to meet for a run session later in the morning. During my run he stopped me and we had a chat. He told me I looked mechanical in my swim…. OK I thought…that makes sense as I do think a lot about how I’m swimming instead of just getting on with it which makes it look very mechanical. Then he said I looked mechanical in my run and my first thought then was ‘oh crap! That’s where I feel most natural!’ However, recently I had been thinking more about technique and he was able to pick that up right away.
Throughout the week I was introduced to ‘how real swimmers swim’ and yes it was a shock to my poor wee arms. I also did a few other sessions that I wouldn’t normally do, it was new and different and I love a new challenge so naturally I loved every minute of it.
Many of you will have heard stories about what Brett Sutton is like and will have formed your own ideas of him in your head. I went out there with no expectations of what his personality might be like. I found him to be a no bullshit kind of guy who cares greatly for each one of his athletes. There are no frills, no crap, just consistency and hard work. We discussed my situation at present and some options for the future. We also, amongst other things, talked about some elements that would need to be put in place for me to make improvements.
I also had the chance to meet Bella and Stephen (and Charlie) Bayliss. Bella was one of the big names of the sport that I had heard so much about when I was just getting in to triathlon. I really enjoyed talking to her and she has a lot of advice and help to offer. Both Bella and Stephen were great and made me feel really welcome when I was out there.
So for now I won’t go through the ins and outs of how we left things or exactly what’s happening. Let’s just say that I have a lot of HARD work to do and that things could be changing for me. I’m going to see how things go and embrace every opportunity I can. Exciting times!!