NEW British Triathlon and Swim Smooth CPD for UK coaches.

The first of the NEW Open Water CPD courses went live in the Lake district on Sat the 8th Aug 2015.

Emma Brunning

We had coaches from across the country keen to join the Newly designed course to support level 2 and 3 BTF coaches whilst coaching in the open water.

Emma Brunning

The morning had lots of talks about best practice and then in the afternoon we had a great group of swimmers turning up to be coached for a 2 hour session.

Emma Brunning

Coach Bob talking about the fish in Windermere!!

The swimmers and coaches deemed the course a success and we look forward to rolling out across the country next year.

Emma Brunning

Active Blu Venue


In Cumbria Magazine come to interview Emma about business success.

In Cumbria magazine were writing an article about how does success in business relate to the sporting field and links to athletes normal lives. Can success in one area help through out peoples lives.

A reporter and photographer attending one of my swim squad sessions and interviewed me about how I support my swimmers to achieve in their goals, dreams and aspirations.



All my squad got behind me to support the process – I know I am very lucky to have some great people around me. I also love nothing more then supporting my athletes to take their first steps towards their new challenges.


Thanks to everyone involved. 🙂

7 Steps to developing your open water coaching.

7 Steps to Developing your Open Water Coaching.

Emma Brunning is a British Triathlon Tutor, Swim Smooth Coach and a specialist in open water swim coaching. With the open water season in full swing she shares her top 7 tips for coaching athletes in an open water environment.


Date Published: 03 July 2015
As a coach, tutor and mentor I like nothing more then supporting athletes and coaches to take that first step towards a new challenge, dream or goal. Whilst many people find new experiences exciting and thrilling, others can get overwhelmed and anxious. This is where our position as coaches can be very diverse.
As a coach we have many roles, not only to be technically knowledgeable and emotionally supportive, but also to provide great opportunities for our athletes by developing their skills and fitness, enhancing their understanding and demonstrating best practice.
Studies have recently shown that although the sport of Triathlon is continuing to increase in popularity, one of the main barriers to the sport is the lack of confidence individuals have with their swim ability, especially when transferring it to the Open Water.
As a specialist in open water swimming, I spend most my time encouraging swimmers, triathletes and coaches to developing their open water skills and tactics within their club or squad environments. I will now share with you a few simple things you can do to support your athletes to become more confident in the open water, train effectively and race smarter.

Keep it Simple- Covering the basics in 7 steps.

1 – Power of the Mind: Training the mind for the open water is just as important as the body. Athletes often can neglect this, spending just 5 minutes doing the following before entering the water can make all the difference.
Think positively – The power of your thoughts can be transforming – It is therefore important that we think positively about the experience we are about to have.
Suggest to your athletes from the moment they start to prepare for their training or race to focus on only good things. It sounds simple – but do try it!!
Think about: The lovely surroundings you are in, the warmth of the water, what an amazing experience you are having. (Even if sometimes you have to fake it) Keep these thoughts going through out the training or race. Although it may seem silly, they will help, but like everything it does take practice.
Relaxed Breathing – We all have moments in the open water when we experience a slight panic or anxiety – Make sure before your athletes get into the water you remind them of the importance of a relaxed continued exhalation into the water.
Often when we feel anxious or stressed we tend to hold on to the breath and tense up, making the situation worse. Talk about the cause and effect of the breath – the more relaxed your exhalation the more relaxed your inhalation and this results in a calmer, more enjoyable session with better results. I would suggest practicing this on dry land or in the pool. Getting your swimmers breathing right is the first thing to address, as they will feel a lot better and more efficient.

2 – Strategies: Plan for the unexpected.
Plan – Talk through with your athletes any concerns they may have whilst in the open water. Once this is done, put a few strategies in place so that your athletes have the confidence to deal with them if they were to occur.
Practice – Once the athletes concerns are identified, make sure you address them in training and practice them. This will give the athlete the confidence they need to deal with that situation should it arise within a race. An example: loosing your goggles – Train without them for a set so the athlete knows they can do it if need be. Simple things and good preparation lead to great results.
Performance – Once your athletes ready for their event – Suggest they stick to the race plan, try to ignore what everyone else is doing or how fast they set off – Its now the time to do everything you have practiced in training. Mental rehearsal, mass starts, pacing, sighting, drafting, and turning e.t.c.
3 – Drills and Skills: Train your open water skills all year round.
Specificity – Train as you want to race – Whether in the pool or the open water make sure a percentage of your training focuses on the essential skills needed for your race environment. In open water we need skills such as: drafting, sighting, turning around Buoys, mass starts…and the list goes on.
The importance of practicing these all year round means, that come race season you are accustomed to all the skills required to make the transition from pool to open water. The athletes that have had this training often stand out above the rest, going into the season fully prepared and confident in their first few open water swims.
Take a look at Emma’s pool based open water session plans here.
Read these links: For a deeper insight into the essential skills needed for open water, check these two links out from Swim Smooth: here and here

4 – Pool versus open water: Get the mix right.
Keeping the pool sessions – As the weather warms up athletes tend to head to the open water and the pool sessions can often get neglected. The importance of keeping your pool sessions over the summer season is essential. Pool training allows you greater control in monitoring your workouts and times, keeping your speed and fitness, whilst still working on technique. Although we want you to enjoy the open water, the right mix is essential.
Just add open water – I would however suggest to substitute 1or 2 pool sessions a week for open water (depending on training load) This session could replace your endurance session in the pool whilst adding a freshness to your training and developing your open water skills. If you only swim in the open water, the inability to monitor your sessions means that most athletes will start to slow down over time. The key here is to design a structured open water session for your athletes.
Take a look at Emma’s open water session plan here

5 – A general training week: 3 main components.
The training that will really benefit your athletes:
1 – Fitness (CSS and Endurance)
2 – Technique
3 -Open Water.
Add all three training methods within a week and your athletes will see the improvements and times reducing. Keep the sessions well structured and focused.
Swim Smooth – links for more information into how to structure your weeks training here.

6 – Consistency: The key to success.
Consistency – The key to success is putting in the hours, week in and week out- Try and encourage your athletes to set realistic training goals and keep to them. This seems simple, but getting consistency is generally hard with everything else people have to fit into their lives. Try to support your athletes to train smart and regularly with the time they have. They will see results just from constant, regular weeks of training.

7 – Enjoyment: Most importantly.
Most people take part in triathlon for fun, seeking a new challenge or goal. As coaches we know that the people we coach are amazing – Fitting training around their other important commitments, such as family, work and education. Therefore lets keep supporting our athletes by training them effectively so that they are prepared and confident to race, enter an event or more importantly – lets create a safe, fun environment so that we can encourage more people out there to get involved keep fit and stay healthy.
Just keep Swimming
Emma Brunning
Coach, Tutor and Mentor.

British Triathlon – Come to interview Emma about her Coaching.

British Triathlon popped in to visit Active Blu’s Open Water Venue on the shores of Windermere where Emma was interviewed and asked about how she started coaching, what her future holds and what support she would like to see for open water and Triathlon coaches around the UK.

Emma who is a specialist in the Open Water and on a daily basis works on Windermere where conditions are very changeable – She talks about her ambitions and desires for the future. Supporting coaches across the world her love for the Coach Development is clear from the start….

Check out: 7 basic steps to develop your Open Water Coaching.

Then check out : Interviewing Emma 😉 

Swim Smooth Coach Ed Manager

Coach Education Manager

I am delighted to announce I have taken a part time position as Swim Smooth Coach Ed Manager – This is an amazing opportunity and a privilege to be asked to work for this international coaching company.

AB5V5935My role will start off developing the already existing coach education programme for certified coaches. I will help design, deliver and then mentor the coaches through their training. Part of my job will be making sure this world class programme provides everything the coaches require and meet their individual needs.


What does this mean for you the athlete: Well this means where ever you live in the world, you will be receiving this best possible coaching, from a really experienced, informed team. Meet the already exciting international Swim Smooth Coaches.

I am excited to take on this project and work with such an amazing group of coaches from across the world. I look forward to helping support and develop coach education in: Swimming, Open water swimming and Triathlon.


For more information please feel free to email me:

Great News – Active Blu will continue with out any changes. My passion for my work in the Lakes means the Squads, 121 Video analysis, clinics and open water training is an important part of what I do. Exciting times ahead. 

Thanks everyone for your support that has enabled me to get this far. 🙂

Why we do what we do…!!

Why we do what we do….

 I often wonder why we do the things we do, what drives us and makes us tick. I know this differs from one person to the next and thats what really interests me as a coach and tutor.

This month I have worked with some great coaches, athletes and tutors all over the UK within the sport of triathlon and swimming. In the times in the between work, I often find myself reflecting on what a privileged position I hold. Not only can I continue to learn and educate myself, but also support peoples goals, dreams and ambitions…..


Active Blu – Faults and Corrections Workshop – Triathlon England AGM – Nov 2014.

A few of the squad after a hard CSS set – The Red mist Rises. Nov 2014.

 I often wonder if I have the best job in the world? Ok sometimes its long days and tiring, however for the most part I get to spend my life with motivated, dedicated people that just want to improve and develop their skills or performance.


Tutoring Triathlon England Level 3 Coaches – Explore Video analysis. Nov 2014.

However this has not always been the case and sometimes it takes that step into the unknown and challenging yourself in a way you haven’t been able to before, to really see your potential and be the best you can be.


Assessing Level 1 – Triathlon England Cycling – Edge Hill – Nov 2014

For me it was leaving a job and following a dream to take the plunge into running my own business. Yes there was fear that it may not work, there was concern I may have created a job that was not sustainable, but deep down, in my heart I knew I was doing the right thing and somewhere amongst that I was hoping I could create something that would make a difference to people lives.


                                 Swim Smooth – Swim Types – AGM – Nov 2014.

 I suppose I am writing this as it is nearing the end of the year. It is a good time for us to look back and celebrate the amazing things we have achieved. As a culture we normally shy away from celebrating our strengths. Sometimes not even giving ourselves time to acknowledge them.

                                 Video Analysis – Cause and Effect – Nov 2014

However this month I will be regularly writing stories from people I have met this year that have overcome a challenge, achieved a goal or dream and above all want to celebrate and share what they have accomplished so that it can help inspire and support others.

                      Challenging our New Coaches – Level 1 and 2 Nov 2014.

 If you have a plan, idea or challenge for next year, write it down, think about what you need to achieve it, share it with people and take that step into the unknown.

                           Active Blu – Carlisle Coaches Workshop – Nov 2014.

So if you fancy reading some great stories about athletes and coaches, sign up to my blog at

                                    CSS results are out – A rare treat post Swim.

If you would like to share your story please write to me: I look forward to hearing from you.


Active Blu – Aquathlon Series. 500m Swim – 5km Run.

Active Blu – Aquathlon 2014 – 500m swim / 5km run.

28th Aug 2014



Great results and fun last night – Well done to everyone that took part.



Ben Ashwell


Paul Ainsworth


Sarka Jo Cole


Robert Bramall


Rorick Houghton


Paul Mckenny


Cat Gordon


Cormac Murray


Maria Galvin


Barry Powell


Emily Ashwell



New ASA Open Water Coaching Qualification – FREE Coaching Sessions – 31st Aug 2014.

A fantastic opportunity to get some FREE coaching from 13 New Coaches on assessment.

Venue: Active Blu Venue – Windermere.

Great North Swim Training DAy 2013 069

If you are free in the afternoon of the 31st Aug 2014 and can get to Windermere we are seeking swimmers to come for FREE coaching.

Great North Swim Training DAy 2013 100

The New ASA Level 2 Open Water Qualification for coaches is being held on this day. We are looking for swimmers to volunteer for the afternoon and get some top tips, advice and practise from the NEW coaches.


Please Note: Myself and other colleagues will be assessing the coaches on this day, so there will be periods of rest when we change over coaches.


If you are interested please email me at and I will send you further information.

This will be fun and a great opportunity to learn some new skills – All Welcome. 



Too Shy to Tri….

Too Shy to Tri !!!!

A little something from Maria – Sharing her experience and inspiring others to give it a go…


If I could have seen myself swimming 200 metres and then ripping off my wet suit to run 2km around Brockhole, I would never have believed it was me…. and just 2 weeks later find myself doing a 300m swim followed by a 3k run. But of course it was me and I was taking part in the Auathlon series organised by Emma at Active Blu. And now I find myself looking forward to the next Aquathlon, 400m swim and 4k run and it feels brilliant


Ruth and Maria – 2014 post event.

So would you believe it if I told you just 3 years ago I could barely put my head under the water let alone attempt a freestyle stroke, and regarding running, it was so long ago it hurts my brain to even begin to remember.


Active Blu Open Water Venue – Windermere.

With that said, from a true novice, I would just like to say that if you can see a glimpse of yourself anywhere in this, then definitely give it a go. I really did feel that I would never be able to do it and also felt that it would only be for the super fit and competitive. All I can say is that with the support and encouragement of Emma at Active Blu I gave it a Tri and felt such a massive feeling of achievment. I have even managed a few extra little runs and might just see myself getting into this multi-event malarky. Thank you Emma for all your support and encouragement.Loving it!!


Aquathlon – 200m Swim / 2km Run – 17th July 2014

Aquathlon – Go Tri 2014 – 17th July 2014

Well done everyone for taking part – Next week is the 300m and 3km run.

 200m Swim – 2km Trail Run. 




Paul Ainsworth


Sarka Jo Cole


Robert Bramall


Cormac Murray


Alise Cibule


Maria Galvin


Ruth Corfield


Sarah Weldon