Joel Filliol – swimming checklist

December 10th 2020

By Matt Hill
Categories: Athlete Resources

Joel Filliol – swimming checklist

Joel Filliol, revisiting his swimming checklist

The original checklist Joel wrote was one of the first “controversial” resources I was introduced to, by Martin. It was written way back in 2012, a lot has happened since then!

It was a pivotal point in my coaching development, it was the first time I had reassurance that my “rogue” approach to coaching triathlon, swimming, and strength and conditioning WAS ok, and was how lesser known world class coaches coached.

These “lesser” known coaches were the ones developing the champions, behind the scenes, unheard of.  They were not the coaches that were always featured in the media – they don’t have egos and like to be in the public eye and their training approach is simple and repetitive (it doesn’t sell!).

The “coaches” that were featured in the media (those with connections, egos, were ex-pro’s, and prescribe complex/exciting/experimental sessions) were the gurus and supposed to be our role models. Yet, as it transpires, these were NOT the coaches producing champions – even though they continually refer to the champions as if they DID coach them!

To get the BEST results you often have to go AGAINST the normal / traditional approaches; as advised by governing bodies in coaching course, the media and the words of the “gurus” (who all say the same thing). We, Martin and I, were often criticised, belittled or ostracised for doing things differently – it was sometimes hard going. But after reading Joel’s article, then finding more material from Brett and other coaches from other sports, it became clear:

Those that strive to provide the best for their athletes are not always accepted by their peers, even when the athletes became more successful, healthier and happier!

So, back to the topic of the podcast, what did Joel conclude by reviewing his 8 year old checklist? What has he changed? Pretty much NOTHING! 8 years later and he is still prescribing swim sessions in the same way (5 swims per week, over 8 years, that’s a lot of repetition – point number 21!)

You will recognise a LOT of similarities between his 21 points and the training you receive from us, notably the simplicity and non-swimming approach to swim training for TRIATHLON.

There are some areas that we differ on, but these points are so minor, eg, we don’t find the Finis Agility paddles to be effective – we find they distract and create tension as the swimmer grips with the thumb all the time rather than releasing the grip underwater (there’s already too much to think about, let alone more thinking about releasing / gripping the thumb every half an arm revolution).

But the core approach is the same – forget symmetry, prettiness, drilling, kicking, and fluff, instead, swim more, use tools that build upper body strength, use lots of short repetitions and build towards sessions that exceed race distance.

Variety is for the weak minded” Keep it SIMPLE and REPEAT the processes!