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Practice makes Perfect….Right?

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Perception Versus Reality in the Water…

Have you ever had a coach instruct you to lower your head? Kick from your hips? Or to lengthen out your body?

After you make all of the changes, does the coach come over again only to give the same critique?

At this point you push off the wall confused and likely frustrated.

But you did take their advice and make the changes, right?
At least you thought so…

But It Feels Like I’ve Made a Change…

I have found that two of the major challenges to improving swim form is the complete lack of visual or tactile feedback.

What we feel like we are doing in the water and what we are actually doing are not always the same 

If it already “feels” like your head is down, the kick is from the hips and your body is lengthened there would be no reason to make an adjustment. But what if none of those things are true; Your head is up, The kick is from the knees, and you are not lengthening your body.

The oversimplification of “practice makes perfect” minimizes the conscious effort it actually takes to reach a level of perfection. Just putting in a hard effort doesn’t mean there is any effective change to the quality of a swimmers mechanics. The brain does a good job of mis-interpreting what is actually happening compared to what we feel we are doing in the water. Thinking or feeling you are in optimal positions doesn’t mean it is true.

Practice Makes Perfect, Right? 

We have all heard this statement before and at face value it makes sense. The saying implies that as long as we practice, we will eventually arrive at perfection. But ask the swimmer who’s been stuck in lane 4 having spent countless hours at swim practice (each season) if that is actually the case. Not all practice is created equal and it doesn’t always matter how hard you work physically.

Every stroke is an opportunity to move towards perfection (but it can be elusive)

Perfect practice makes perfect
Okay practice makes okay
Bad practice makes bad

So while practice might make perfect.
No matter how its done, practice makes permanent!

Why Does Our Brain Struggle with Spatial Awareness in the Water? 

Humans are one of only three land based mammals that do not know how to swim intuitively. Although we are great at sinking (which isn’t particularly fun) we do not possess the natural body position and movements to swim. 

The question then becomes, “does the swimmer dictate what they want to do in the water or does the water dictate what they have to do?”

It all comes down to control and comfort

When the water dictates what the swimmer must do; the water is in control. As in other parts of our lives, by sacrificing control, we also give up comfort. No one wants to be in a car that is hydroplaning on the highway, and the brain doesn’t want to be in an environment where air isn’t readily available while it is trying to avoid sinking.

What we do on land naturally (walking upright) does not translate to flotation and efficient  propulsion in the water. When our hips sink below our head in the water, the amygdala portion of the brain senses that we are sinking which is equated with drowning. Although the swimmer is focused on driving forward the brain wants to “get up” and fight the sinking sensation. Because most of the movements a swimmer makes are involuntary (instinct driven) it can become almost impossible to make deliberate improvements to the stroke on your own. The natural lack of balance in the water creates a situation that is hard to overcome by just putting in the laps.

But there is a Solution for the Lack of Control that We Have in the Water…

By achieving balance in the water you regain control of your body which allows you to make voluntary and precise adjustments.


By achieving balance in the water you regain control

Learning how to achieve balance in the water is one of the (elusive) pillars that lead to swimming with control. Balance is elusive for many reasons but it is completely achievable for anyone. How you shape your body in the water leads to balance. It is a position that can be learned by anyone. The trick is to learn how to acquire balance before swimming whole stroke(s) and then how to maintain it once swimming. The lack of visual or tactile feedback makes the process almost impossible so we just rely on working harder and try to “stay up” in the water.

How Can I Make this Happen?

Hands on coaching solves the lack of tactile feedback 
Having the opportunity to train in an endless pool being guided with hands on instruction gives the neuromuscular system one of the things it desperately wants in the water, immediate and tactile feedback in real time. A qualified coach can help guide an athlete into each position by providing anchor points and stability that land based mammals need. This is especially critical during the learning process.

Real time video solves the lack of visual feedback
By using above and below water video the swimmer can see if what they “felt” they were doing and what they actually did were the same thing. Video provides invaluable feedback and the gap between perception and reality starts to close until they become the same thing. 

That’s why the state of the art studio at Bay Shore Swim was designed… to help you achieve perfection permanently

By using above and below water video cameras along with mirrors on the pool floor, critical, visual, observation is obtained. Through hands on coach led instruction athletes receive the tactile feedback that accelerates learning.

Fortunately your swim approach does not need to be “sink or swim”. Everyone can train in a way that engineers the “sinking” out of the process and find balance in the water. 

Joe Petrush is recognized, credentialed leader in the multisport world. As a Total Immersion and USAT Level II coach Joe can help you learn to master technique while transcending barriers to improve swim performance.


Triathlete Specific Strength Classes Starting in January

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Premiere Triathlon Coaching Group along with Bay Shore Swim will be offering dedicated strength training classes specifically centered on the needs of endurance athletes starting in January.

Multi-sport athletes have certain strength specific requirements that need to be developed over time. The goal of any training plan is to maximize results and reduce the risk of injury.  The strength training classes are designed to help make that happen.  Every session is built to identify any orthopedic or muscular limitations that may be hindering an athlete’s progress.  Each class and strength training movement is than custom designed based on each attendee’s personal needs.

Over the next few weeks more details will be posted here. If you have any questions about the services that are offered you can email or call by clicking “contact studio” on the top of the page.

We look forward to sharing all of the new and returning programs be offered over the next few weeks. Check back here for the most up to date information.

Coached indoor cycling classes starting Sunday November 27th!

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Premiere Triathlon coaching group is now offering indoor coach led cycling classes. 

We provide the trainers, fans and hand built/selected workouts, you provide the effort and power.

Each session is designed to get the most return for your training time. Using power, cadence and RPE any athlete can participate and work at the proper level of intensity for their current fitness.

These are overseen by coaches that will provide feedback, insight and tips to help maximize your results.

There is a brick bike/run option at every session. Although the cycling is indoors the run is outdoors. If you want to participate in the run make sure to have the appropriate gear for the weather. 

All classes are 75-90 minutes in duration and cost $20. The first session starts at 7am and these classes will continue all season every Sunday morning.

 To secure your spot in the class click on “calendar” on the top of the page. Put in the password “swim” and then choose the book class option on the left side of the screen. Follow the prompts to register. Once completed  you will receive an email with all of the details regarding the class. 

 Feel free to contact the studio with any questions via email or phone.

PH: 631-665-4254


Joe Petrush                                                                  Guy Leibstein

3x 70.3 World Championships Qualifier                7x Ironman

USAT Level II Triathlon Coach                                  All World Athlete

Total Immersion Senior Coach                                 Ironman Certified Coach

Group classes coming soon! Cycle, run and strength classes built for triathletes!

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Over the next few days Bay Shore Swim and Premiere Triathlon coaching will be sharing all of the the newly designed group training programs available to all athletes!

Each class is structured to help any athlete reach their true fitness potential in a welcoming and comfortable setting. Keep checking back over the next few days as we share the details of each class.  We will explain how to participate, what to expect and why you should join us for intelligently designed training sessions on your quest for  greater fitness.


Holiday Swim Special

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Bayshore Swim’s 2014 Holiday Special:

Give the gift of better health and better swimming this holiday! Our 4 hour special holiday swim package is only $425! This includes a one hour video analysis and three 1 hour swim sessions that focus on the basic principals of efficient swimming.

This package is a perfect introduction to our more in depth 6 and 10 hour swim programs. It is also a great starting point for those looking to begin a swimming for fitness regimen.

All lessons are taught in our state of the art swim studio with Bayshore Swim coach and founder, Joe Petrush.

The goal of all lessons and packages is to help an athlete learn to self coach so they can practice with purpose when training on their own.

Call or email us for more on this, or any of our other, exciting programs.

News Letter 10/11/13

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Swim, Bike, Run
The Newsletter of and Premiere Coaching
What’s Happening Now?

Hello again, friends! Welcome to another newsletter from Bayshore Swim / Premiere Coaching.

Finding the Fun … Again!
It’s easy to get caught up in our daily grind. We rush from one thing to the next, taking care of all our important priorities: work, family, home, etc. Add into that mix the many hours of training all of us squeeze into an average week and it is a wonder we can see straight sometimes. We’ve talked about this before, that elusive thing we call balance.Balance is a key piece of any harmonious and healthy lifestyle, but something else is key too…  

Find the joy!
Remember how you felt after your first race? The one you did on a whim when the sport was brand new and you had no expectations? Remember the exhilaration, the exhaustion, the camaraderie, the pleasure you felt? That thrill you felt is what we are after here. Our October goal is to find the thrill again. We want to recharge our batteries and allow ourselves to draw in all the pleasure we can from this sport.

Swim It In!
So here’s a thought for you for this week…

While the weather is still amenable to it, sneak in a fun open water swim! Don’t worry about distance, don’t focus on stroke count or intensity. Just get out into the water and enjoy. Start with a little float and soak in what is left of this weather we’re having. Then enjoy a long, low intensity swim. Try to swim “quietly” or smoothly. You can focus on some of your technique touchstones if you like. But your chief goal will just be to  be …in the water.
{As always, be safe out there! Swim with a partner and use a Saferswimmer Float.}

Send me some feedback on how it goes after your swim! Periodically, I’ll be sharing your feedback with our group here.

Tales From The Trenches
Feedback from our friends in the Bayshore Swim / Premiere Coaching Network:

…Great speaking with you again yesterday. Just want to thank you for sticking by me this season through the injury…really a crappy time for me. Sorry if I got grumpy!  I’m really, really happy that I came back and did pretty well in my race a few weeks ago. Also…I’ve been taking your advice. I’m taking some time to stay fit but enjoy myself. Here’s the 29er I told you about. I’ve been riding it to work a few days a week and doing some on and off road stuff with it. Just having a blast while getting a good workout. It’s nice to have a few rides for myself where I am not constantly watching the numbers. Thanks, Joe!

…I finished 2nd of 21 men in my 45-49 AG, and 33rd/293 people overall.  So, my first AG podium in a full tri (!).  I usually get hung up in the overall statistics, but the AG break down is revealing of the value of a few sessions with Coach Joe.  I was 2nd out of the water, traded one place at the end of the bike, and took it back on the run.  So, compared to my actual peers, rather than the young guys, I am now one of the better swimmers and my performance is itself balanced among the three events. Whehew.

Driving home, I had this other maybe not profound insight … age grouping is not just reflective of loss of physical ability with age, but also reflects shared lifestyle demographics.  Most of the other middle aged guys I raced with/against are also trying to balance a lot of grown-up things too and wish they had more time to train.  So, overall, I really could not be more happy, and came back feeling my training lifestyle affirmed rather than wanting.
I have wanted to share that I have been having a blast swimming this year.  Generally, I feel like I do not want to get out of the water during morning swims at West Meadow or Cedar Beach. Just love connecting to the water in the mornings when no one is around.  I have been coming out of the water in sprint and Olys in the upper third and was third overall at the Port Jefferson Biathlon/aquathlon (compare to literally last out of the water in 2008), 12th overall at (small) Bassman Sprint. I enjoy coming out of the swims feeling fresh and ready to ride.  I am looking forward to Mighty Man sprint this weekend, Cedar Beach in a few weeks, and a half marathon in NC in November. 

News Letter 9/26/13

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Swim, Bike, Run
The Newsletter of and Premiere Coaching
What’s Happening Now?

Dear Friends:

Summer has slipped away once again. The days are getting shorter, morning and evening are getting cooler. There’s even that tell-tale crispness in the air. Yup! It’s fall. Our racing seasons are coming to a close. Now is a time to reflect and recuperate. Maintain your fitness but give your body and brain a chance to recover from the rigors of the season with some “dialed back” training. Take time to find what you love again with swimming, biking, and running. Soon enough, it will be time to focus on training and technique for next year.

As we shift into fall, here are some pointers to keep you safe and comfortable when you train…

Safety And Comfort– Training in the Fall

Fall may mean great weather for running and bike riding, but it also brings a number of hazards with it too.

Buses and Back to School: Parents are rushing to drop kids off at school or pick them up, buses are out on the roads and stopping frequently, traffic patterns have changed and so has traffic volume. It’s back to school time.  So runners and riders beware!

Smart ways to stay safe:

Run / Ride at off peak times when traffic is lighter. Early morning is a great time for this, but be sure you complete your workout before rush hour. And make sure you’ve got enough light to train safely. Weekends and mid-morning can also be a good time to get the miles in.

Run/ride in lower traffic areas with good surfaces–parks, colleges, bike paths during off hours.

Always follow the rules of the road and stay focused.

Changing Weather, Changing Light:


Wet leaves are a real hazard to cyclists. Be aware and avoid them.

Late summer / early fall storms can dump sand and debris on roadways. Be careful.

Dwindling daylight hours can mean limited visibility. Be aware. If riding or running early or late wear bright, high visibility colors.

Consider a high visibility vest and / or flashers or reflectors on clothing and limbs.


Layers that you can peel easily are the main idea for fall training. Start a bit cool and finish warm is the norm.

Look for snug fitting, breathable sport fabrics. Tighter layers allow moisture to be wicked away from skin.

Don’t give up on open water yet!!! The water, through October and even into early November, is still great for swimming if you are in a wetsuit. Swim with a partner and get yourself a Saferswimmer Float!

Newsletter 9/19/13

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Swim, Bike, Run
The Newsletter of and Premiere Coaching



What’s Happening Now?


Dear Friends:

I am truly excited to be writing to you today. This is our first newsletter in quite some time. It feels GOOD to be reaching out to you, my athletes, my friends, my family. The newsletter has been a great tool for sharing news, ideas, and important information with you, and I’m glad to be back at it.



All of us, as triathletes, know how critical balance in our lives is. When we find balance, our training, our relationships, and our work all flourish and grow. When things get out of whack, though, things can fall apart. For example, we get slammed with a big project and a tight deadline at work, and our training and family lives suffer. Or some challenging family issue rears its head and our job and tri training get pushed to the back burner.


As 2012 came to an end and we approached 2013. I was faced with some challenging family issues. As well, I was unsure of the direction I saw some of the Bayshore Swim / Premiere Coaching initiatives going. I felt the focus was moving towards larger group training—group swim / group ride / race and event management–and away from my core philosophy of individual athletes, one at a time. I enjoyed the group work, but I felt something was being lost.


Furthermore, I found I had fallen away from training side by side with my athletes. I felt like I had lost some of what made my approach special—personal, 1 to 1, side by side coaching. I needed to step back, regroup, and find that delicate balance again.


I am happy to say that after a number of months of work and focus, I have done just that. I spent a number of months studying the programs I offer, reviewing USAT and other coaching materials, meeting with coaches, and speaking with a number of athletes I coach whose opinions I trust. All of this lead me back to where I started a decade ago.


I have refocused my efforts over the last half year with all the endurance athletes that I coach. And, while pulling back from larger group activities was tough for me on many levels, I see that it was the right choice. Now, I am reaching out again to everyone in the BSS / Premiere Coaching network to say that I am excited to be rededicating myself to what I do best: 1 on 1 coaching, personal attention, and pinpoint focus on your personal growth as a triathlete and human being dedicated to health and fitness.


As we move towards 2014, I am certain that it will be our best year ever. I’m hoping to get to work 1 to 1 and side-by-side with many more of you in the upcoming year! I want 2014 to be your best year yet, too.


A Challenge To You

One of my core beliefs is that no one knows an athlete better than the athlete him or herself. As the 2013 season draws to a close, we are all reflecting on the season we had. Hopefully, we all spend some time savoring the highs, the joys of multisport that keep us all going. Hopefully, too, we spend some time analyzing and identifying the lows, the things that went wrong and those areas that we need to develop and grow.


Here is my friendly challenge to you…before September ends, identify one specific high in 2013 and two specific lows from 2013:

The High: this should be a specific something that you did better in 2013. Not just improving a time, but some technique you learned or training you did that helped you get better at some aspect of multisport in 2013. What did you do? How did you improve? How can you leverage this knowledge and build on it for 2014?

The Lows: this should be two things you want to improve. Maybe they are areas of technical weakness, areas that training might improve, areas of limited knowledge, mental, physical…whatever! Just identify two specific things that you want to do better for 2014. How might you attack these two things for 2014?


Share these thoughts on your highs and your 2 lows with me at I’d love to hear from you.


Another core belief I have is that while we all know ourselves better than anyone else, we also grow most and best and with most continuity when we work closely with others…especially with experts. I am hoping that we will all have many chances to share and grow together in the upcoming year. I also hope to see some of you become athletes I train. I want to help you make 2014 your best year yet!


Newsletter Contributors
Steve Brodsky, Editor
Joe Petrush, Editor

O/W training with Coach Joe

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With open water season fully upon us, and triathlon race season in full swing, everyone should be getting in some open water training. This year Joe has been working with swimmers in small private groups in open water settings. If you would like more information on training in open water with Coach Joe, please contact the studio through the website. If possible ,try to avoid these guys.


5 Focal Points to Supercharge Swimming, Part 2

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By Steve Brodsky and Joe Petrush

In part one of this article, we introduced you to three technical elements you can use in your swim. Now, we’re going to introduce you to two metrics you may be able to use in the pool: stroke rate and stroke length. Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming, was one of the first coaches to work with these these metrics and show how they can provide an indication of our swimming in a similar way that measuring power can yield valuable data for cyclists.  We now know that learning to calculate, manipulate and personalize stroke rate and stroke length yields tremendous gains for swimmers.

mzStroke rate (SR) is a measurement of how many strokes you take in a minute. In other words, it is a measure of how quickly or slowly your stroke is turning over. To manipulate stroke rate, swimmers can utilize a tempo trainer (TT), a small swimming metronome. The TT, when placed in the swim cap, beeps at a fixed interval. The swimmer adjusts her stroke so that her lead hand is reaches maximum extension with the beep.

Stroke length (SL) is a measure of the length a swimmer travels with each stroke. We typically calculate stroke length by counting the number of strokes a swimmer takes per fixed distance, usually a length in a pool. Since most of us swim at the same pool with regularity, focusing on strokes per length (SPL) is the easiest way to quantify stroke length.

Stroke length is influenced, primarily, by three factors: your body length, your technique (as discussed in part 1 of this article) and your swim fitness. We’ve learned that the best swimmers in the world cover more distance per stroke (they take fewer strokes per length) and they maintain that number of strokes per length across their swim.

A great example of this is Sun Yang’s world record-breaking 1,500-meter swim at the London 2012 Olympic Games. As analyzed byCamelback Coaching, Yang holds the same SPL across the entire 1500 meter swim (a mere 13 strokes per 25 meters). He also maintains a fixed stroke rate of about .96 for the majority of the swim. And, when he does increase his rate at the end of the swim, his SPL does not change.

From these ideas, we focus here on two goals using stroke rate (SR) and strokes per length (SPL):

1. Find the lowest number of strokes per length that you can maintain with consistency at a fixed rate and then work to lower those numbers. For example, if you determine that you can hold 16 strokes per length at a rate of 1.8 with consistency, work to lower the SPL to 15 at 1.8. And, also, work to lower the SR to 1.7, then 1.6 while consistently holding that 16 SPL.

2. Using the SR and SPL you established, work to elongate the distance at which you fall off the mark. In other words, if you are able to maintain 16 strokes per length at 1.8 consistently for a 200-yard swim, try to elongate that swim to 250 before you start adding strokes or miss the beep.

Why do we focus on these goals? Numerous studies (Costill et al. 1985, Craig and Pendergast 1979, Maw and Volkers 1996) and swim experts have established that speed = SR x SPL. In other words, going faster comes out of controlling the metrics, like with bike and run.

Here’s a simple example: If you swim 25 yards in 10 strokes and at a rate of 1.5 (1 stroke per 1.5 seconds), you’ve just swum 25 yards in 15 seconds (1.5 x 10 =15). By decreasing strokes per strength or by increasing the stroke rate (faster rate), we change the equation and create a faster swim:

  • 9 x 1.5 = 13 seconds (faster by decreasing SPL)
  • 10 x 1.4 = 14 seconds (faster by increasing stroke rate)

In both examples, a faster swim comes through manipulation of SR or SPL, from smarter swimming not simply going harder. Moreover, in addition to easy swim power gains, we have two true measures (SR and SPL) to help you quantify your gains.

Getting Started
As you begin to train with SR and SPL, start by becoming comfortable counting your strokes for each length of the pool. Each time your hand enters and reaches maximum extension, that is one stroke. Once you are comfortable with counting strokes, get comfortable with the tempo trainer. Find a comfortable rate — experiment with rates between 1.1 and 1.8. Now swim at that rate, “matching the beep,” each hand reaching maximum extension with each beep.

After you are comfortable counting strokes and swimming with your TT on a fixed interval, you can begin to combine the two and work on the goals we mentioned. Here is one example of how to mix this sort of training into your current swim routines:

4×50 with decreasing SPL
With your TT at 1.5, swim one 50 at a comfortable rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Count your strokes and try to take one fewer stroke per 25 for each of the next three 50s. So if you swam each length of your first 50 in 18 strokes per 25, try to swim your second 50 in 17 strokes per length, your third 50 at 16, and your final 50 at 15.

Variation: Try substituting manipulation of SR instead of SPL. For the second, third, and fourth 50 of the set, maintain your SPL while increasing your SR (faster TT setting) by .05 for each of these 50s. (Your first 50 is done at 1.5, #2 should be at 1.45, #3 at 1.40, and #4 at 1.35.)

Ultimately, you should work to elongate the distance you need most work. If you can hold a combination of SR and SPL for 100 yards before adding strokes or slipping off the beep, try stretching that to 125 and 150. You’ll find that mental focus and technique are key elements in holding the strokes per length and stroke rate. Note your gains and enjoy the process.

Steve Brodsky is a professional writer, English professor, and avid triathlete. Along with his writing partner, Coach Joe Petrush, he has written articles, newsletters, coaching manuals for USAT, and two chapters in a forthcoming triathlon book for over 50 iron-distance triathletes.

Joe Petrush is a certified USAT Level II coach and race director. Additionally, he is a Total Immersion swim instructor. Joe has participated in USAT’s elite mentorship program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado and frequently shares his knowledge at USAT coaching certification clinics. Joe is the founder and head coach of both Bayshore Swim and Premiere Coaching.