Graham Cockroft, 42
I was a regular gym using Car Sales Executive - first to lose weight and then to improve my overall fitness. I got in to running and completed my first half marathon in 2011 (1hr 37mins), but shortly after this picked up a stress fracture, which made it difficult to continue run training. I had already considered a Triathlon and this injury meant I decided to work on my swimming.
I first of all went to some swimming classes at my gym, with very limited success and it was clear to me that I needed something more personal and focussed. At this point I was introduced to Annie. This was before Annie worked with SwimSmooth but her techniques were very similar to what they are now. We trained at a pool in Oxford and very quickly I started to see improvements. The first issue was with my breathing (or lack of breathing out). My freestyle improved massively due to the focus in each session. When Annie coaches on a 1-to-1 basis you always feel like you have a her full attention and that you are her most important athlete/client. Once we realised that I was never going to be massively comfortable kicking (gotta love that Pull Buoy!) we focussed on developing my stoke and while I still have a way to go I can at least feel at home in the fast of lane of most pools.
As well as 1-to-1 pool sessions and open water sessions I have attended group open squad swimming sessions and regularly attend a CSS Squad.
One of the most useful sessions was a video analysis. First, I wasn’t as bad as I thought it was but it really brings home where you can improve. Having had a second analysis session, it is clear the improvements I have made, but also where I have work to do. Sitting down with Annie after the session means you get a real insight in to what is working but what can be done to improve further.
I've been coached by Annie for years, it's has been a great experience and I can not recommend her coaching style/techniques highly enough to anybody who wants to improve their swimming for triathlon. Since taking up triathlon I have completed several Sprint Distance races (including Blenheim), 2 Olympic Distance and 1 Middle Distance event. And that is all thanks to Annie’s coaching in swimming.
I'm now having regular training with Ali in cycling and running which has really improved my speed and efficiency in the longer distances. He writes me a training plan to follow with sessions that are easy to understand and follow independently and he's extremely motivating- not least as he's so quick himself!