Fall Down 7 Get up 8

Week of September 1st. 2010

Actual Results - Client Improvements

Week 18: I love to swim

Swimming with an Olympian:

Last Saturday I had the honor to meet and be coached by Sheila Taormina who won a Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympics in the 200 Freestyle Relay.  Sometimes an elite athlete is an incredible athlete but not a good coach.  Sheila is both.  I wasn’t looking for an easy fix.  I was looking for someone to tell me what I was doing wrong and what Olympic swimmers do right.  Ok, you might think, Patti…there is a HUGE gap between you and an Olympic swimmer.  And of course I agree.  But they know something I don’t know that I want to know. 

I went to the clinic having read Sheila’s book: Call the Suit.  It’s a reference to a card game where you get to call the suit or let your opponent do it for you.  Sheila said she always calls the suit.  Never let your opponent do that for you.  In card games, in swimming, and in life.  It’s a valuable lesson that I’m ready to apply in my life.

I also went there knowing that my head position, my foot position, my breathing etc etc had little to do with why I wasn’t swimming well.  I knew that it was my pull but I just didn’t know how to fix it.  Or what it should look like.  OR more importantly, what it should FEEL like.  Because you can’t really look at yourself while you are swimming.  But if you discover what it “feels” like to be swimming with power, with force, with a feel for the water, then you know when you are off or when you are on. 

I spent last year in misery when I swam.  I hated every single Monday night practice.  I even wrote to a sports psychologist when I found myself CRYING on the pool deck after each practice.  I wanted to quit.  Triathlons were only slightly better because I was anonymous during the swim and people didn’t know me and there was always someone slower than me….and I knew if I could just hold out for the run, I’d be happy.

Then enters INJURY.  IT band issues, ankle issues, shin issues.  And by the end of last year, I wasn’t allowed to bike or run so I had to swim.  And so I began to let go of my frustration with swimming but I wasn’t any better at it.  Until that is, Maria Thrash of Dynamo videotaped me and gave me advice on what to do.  That was the beginning of me understanding what I was doing wrong.

Sheila’s instruction took it to a whole new level. I have only swam twice since her course on Saturday but I was smiling the entire time I was swimming.  Seriously SMILING.  Last night when I swam alone, I was humming and singing to myself while swimming I was so happy.  There were parts that felt like I had a tailwind like you have on a bike and instead of me pulling through the water, I was being pushed. 

You can ask my friend Jeannine, who I told last year that I was ready to quit triathlon, just how miserable I was.  I was going to do duathlons.  And I’m so happy I held on.  I can now feel better that I had to stop running.  So I could be a better swimmer.  And find something that I love to do so much.

Am I a ton faster?  No, I’m slightly faster.  But as Sheila says, and as I know in my heart, life happens in very small steps.  It’s happens when every single day you work towards a goal.  You don’t get to sit back, do nothing, and then take a huge leap.  And I’m excited that between now and November 5, I’ll get to take a lot of small steps.  In the end, they’ll add up to 2.4 miles of swimming.  And you can be certain, I’ll be smiling at the fish in the Gulf of Mexico while I’m taking them.


Dear Shelia,
The recommendations and advice in Call the Suit, after only two weeks of training, are taking my swimming of the crawl to new levels I never imagined would be possible. I’m about as tall as you and always that my plateau in crawl was due to my height. I compete in triathlons and simply was not improving despite endless swimming classes and coaches. You book fills the gap.  Thanks so much.
I live in Spain, so I can’t make to one of your clinics. Otherwise I would love to. Have you thought about a swim clinic in Europe?
Kind regards

We decided to add this page, as we keep getting real time feedback and results from those of you who have been faithfully working on the Call the Suit swim technique, and applying it!
 ~Here are Your results!
...as they say.."The Proof is in the Pudding !"


This is one of the first results of many we recieved,
 (Greyson, -Has been, up until this season and following the "call the suit" techniques development...a middle of the pack/back of the pack swimmer!)


Dear Sheila,
I attended one of your swim clinics earlier this year. (My coach is MJ Slikas, and we were at a high school in the SW suburbs of Chicago.)
I wanted to let you know that I've been using the Halo bench for several months, and working hard on my catch all year -- and shaved nearly 16 minutes off my Ironman swim time. :-)
   I just learned to swim 4 years ago, and have never been able to break 1:30 for an Ironman swim, but swam a 1:14 at Ironman Florida. I'm hoping to continue honing my technique to get even faster!
So, as a non-swimmer who feels like she's made a huge leap forward this year, thanks so much! I fully credit the Halo bench and your clinic with my success.



Dear Sheila,
   I thought I would share my success after taking your clinic with the HFP group
this summer. I have taken 15 seconds...(on a good day 20 seconds) off my 100
yard swim! IT WORKS...........
  I have spread the word to my friends and Ken
F. (who contacted you) bought the book and swim bench after he
saw my success. I am always looking to get faster and hope to take your clinic
in Oberlin. Thanks and hope to work
with you again......
Henry H. (Ohio)



   Jen B. invited me to your clinic on October 10. We have been using your book for drills and information for the past couple of months and it has made a huge difference already.
I’m 5 ft tall and flunked Beginner’s swimming 5 times as a kid. I thought I couldn’t swim until a couple of friends twisted my arm really hard and convinced me to try triathlon. I was convinced that if I could survive the swim and just accept being one of the last out of the water, that was what I had to do.
This winter I plan on swimming four times per week, coaching with Jenny and spending quality time with the tubes. Thank you for giving me hope!

Beth G.


Here is A great Blog post by A "Call the Suit" swimmer In Ohio;


   *I  wanted to say that the Farmington Hills, MI clinic was great and I just ordered a copy for my buddy in Portland, OR. I had accepted the fact I was not a swimmer but I’ve now changed my mind. My 100 yd time immediately dropped 6 seconds and I’m now on the journey. I’m now almost swimming as fast as my 12 yr old daughter but that may not last long since she’s also reading your book.

Belleville, MI


Dear Sheila,
   I did the drills you showed us at the clinic twice a week for the past two weeks. Tonight I started up back up with my Masters group and kicked BUTT!
    I wasn't even trying hard -instead ; focusing on technique,  but found I routinely clocking 1:20-1:25/100yds. The fastest I had swum prior was 1:40/100y and that was going all out.
 Thanks so much for the coaching!
Now I just need to work more on the catch, learn a flip turn and overcome my paralyzing fear of open water and I will do a triathlon!
MP, Michigan


 (* please feel free to send us your results once you have worked on , and been able to apply the Call the Suit technique!) -Go get 'em!

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