British Triathlon – Open Water CDP – Review

Open Water Pilot Review

Active Blu
As part of the continued development of British Triathlons coach education and development programme we have been working on a number of coaching CPD workshops. With the continued growth of triathlon and open water swimming, supporting coaches in the delivery of open water sessions has been highlighted as a priority. Working alongside Swimsmooth we have developed and piloted a one day CPD workshop.

BTF Coaches

The ethos for the workshop was to make it as interactive and practical as possible, and to deliver the workshop with high quality tutoring and resources to create a supportive and reflective learning environment for those attending.

A total of 18 coaches attended the two pilot workshops, one in the North West and the other in the East Midlands. The group were a mix of level 2 and 3 coaches with a wide range of experience coaching, and coaching specifically open water sessions. Both workshops were delivered by Emma Brunning, a Triathlon England tutor and the swim smooth Coach Development Manager.

The days were split into morning and afternoon sessions, with morning being focused on the what of open water coaching and the afternoon being the how.

Active Blu Venue

In the morning session the coaches covered topics that included

What types of activities can go into an open water session and how to integrate these into a session plan
The health and safety of open water coaching and what to look for in a venue
Session planning for the afternoons
Meeting the safety team and gaining an insight how to best work with them.

The afternoon was all about practical coaching. With the coaches working in small groups to deliver their sessions to a number of swimmers across a range of abilities. To finish the day of the coaches spent some time getting feedback from the group they coached and then a peer feedback and reflection session closed the day off.

Active Blu - OW Day 2015


After the workshop we asked the coaches for feedback, below are some of their comments. Please note these were made anomalously via an online feedback system.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to do much open water coaching but the workshop has given me confidence to do it and the necessary training to be able to coach open water swimming for triathlon”

“Even though I class myself as a more experienced coach in relation to others throughout the day, having the opportunity to talk and discuss topics was invaluable. The information given throughout the day was thorough and informative, also reassuring”

“The workshop was invaluable in every way. To see how a professional set up works and the lengths they go to ensure it does, but how we must all as coaches have a responsibility to make all OW sites professional and effective”

“It was just a very well put together course, and has helped me a lot , so I will defo put together my own OW session with on my club”

“Ensuring that these workshops are delivered by individuals like Emma are invaluable, this not only encourages other coaches but gives the whole workshop huge credibility and kudos. This is imperative to maintain this and only utilise coaches such as Emma rather than others who are less experienced and knowledgeable”

“I would have liked more resources on the coaches’ hub as in skills and drills videos to enhance my coaching.”

“I feel some of the resources are still quite basic in that an experienced L2 coach will already be utilising. I appreciate that this is aimed at developing L2, so perhaps give additional/further information for other coaches to work from”

“This CPD, has reinforced my confidence to now move forward and deliver my own OW session, as before I was feeling unsure and nervous”

Feedback overall has been positive and highlights the importance and value of brining coaches together as this often provides the best learning environment. It has also highlighted the importance of having quality tutors delivering the session.

An area that needs further development is the resources provided for the workshop. We are working with swim smooth to develop newer resources that will be spread across online platforms as well as providing better physical resources on the day.

Next Steps

The British Triathlon Open Water coaching CPD workshop is due to be launched nationwide from May 2016 onwards. Before we do this we will be doing the following.

Developing better resources for future workshops. A mixture of on-line and physical.
Train tutors to deliver the workshop.
Work with regions to establish venues to run the workshop next year.