Why do swimming Drills….

Good article on USAT… It discusses the reason for drills. Drills help correct problems in the stroke, if you know what the purpose of the drill is and how to do them correctly. Once you have done the drill with a particular focal point, swim for a bit (25 yards or meters) and see if you can maintain the focal point like keeping patient lead arm in place after getting a breath. Drills for drill sake won’t help as much as drills with a purpose for doing them! Early season is a great time to follow Gary Hall,Sr. advise. You still build endurance while working on technique.

Here is the link:




Finishing up the 2015 season

Tri 4 Fun athletes had an Amazing 2015 season and so did  Coach Thea.  Congrats to Jennifer Redmond, Gappy Tjan and Howard Uniman on becoming an Ironman.  Ironman Maryland was truly a challenging race this year and you all did amazing.  Congrats to Karen Okupniak on NYC Marathon, Atlantic City 70.3 as well a several 1/2 marathons.  You came back from injury like a champ and all the slow and gradual work paid off!  Tri 4 Fun Athlete, Ian Davis had another solid year of racing in Black Bear Olympic, Unite Half marathon (PR), an epic bike tour in the Colorado mountains, NJ State Olympic(PR) and finishing out with Toughman on the Croton 70.3.  New  Tri 4 Fun athlete for the 2015, Jill Corrigan, also had a strong year.  She PR her “A” race the Pumpkinman sprint by 10 minutes! Jill also completed her first Olympic triathlon at Black Bear.  Brave girl tackling that for her first and hopes in 2016 to get to AG nationals.

This was a busy year for me as a coach and athlete.  I managed to place in the top 3 in my AG at every race I entered and placed 1st in AG at Patriot 70.3 earning a spot at the AG Nationals.  Unfortunately, I was unable to go to nationals as we already had a family vacations planned but maybe I can do it again next year!  Quakerman Olympic+ (38mile bike) ended my season and allowed me one more AG 2nd place for the year.

Once the season started winding down, I took on the new Ironman Coach Certification program and passed, becoming an Ironman Certified Coach in December.  I throughly enjoyed the program and all the continuing education it provided me.  The next Ironman program that I hope to take on is the nutrition program.  I always say the more I can learn the better and there is never one right way, so the more places I can learn from the more broad my knowledge becomes.

The 2016 season is looking exciting already too.  I am once again full with clients that I can one on one coach on a monthly basis and I am working on offering Beginner Plans in all three race distances that will not require one on one coaching but will provide athletes a solid training plan to get them to their first race at any distance.  These new plans will use Training Peaks to deliver  the plan to the clients and I will have a Facebook page for answering any questions these clients may have about the plan.

Mid way through the 2015 season

Mid way through the 2015 season…

Wow!  The 2015 season has been a good one so far for both my athletes and myself. My athletes are working hard at their individual goals and may have exceeded their expectations. What I love about coaching is working with the new triathletes or especially those attempting a race distance for the first time.  I love introducing athletes to the sport and  how to train properly for each race distance.   This season,  I have 3 clients working toward Ironman Maryland as their first Ironman and all doing well. One of my athletes  is training for Toughman as his second 70.3 with me and plans for Ironman next year.  A female athlete has completed her second 70.3 with me and  has plans for Eagleman 70.3 and Ironman Maryland next year.  Can’t wait to see them both reach their goals of becoming an Ironman.  There is nothing like being part of somesone’s first!

I managed to place 1st in my AG in both the Navesink 1.2 swim and Patriot 70.3.  I had a nice PR of 5:27 for the 70.3.  Was going to another AG placement at NJ Sprint but the weather decided to change that plan.  NJ State  was forced to cancel just as I finished the bike, but managed a 5th place female in aquabike partly due to the fact, I saw the storm clouds as I was coming in and knew it was going to be done so I slowed up. Lesson learned, don’t give up just cause it might get called.  Just as I did, 2 ladies my age group passed me on bike!  BUMMER!  I am hoping to do well at the IronGirl in Sandy Hook and maybe one more race by end of Sept.

It is that time in the season, where I take a few weeks off from teaching swim lessons and racing to get the family vacations in, kids ready for school and one son off to college.  I will be starting my swimming lessons back up in Mid Sept for those interested in lessons.  I will also start taking clients for the 2016 season, starting in Mid-October.


Starting the 2015 season

Looking forward to the 2015 season…..

My favorite athletes to help are the new ones just entering the sport and those attempting a new distance for the first time.  In 2014, I helped 7 athletes reach their goal of completing a 70.3 race for the first time.  Along with that I helped other clients complete their first races ever. Keeping my client load to a small group helps me give more time to my athletes.  I usually never work with more than 6 clients and last year I had 10.  Along with Tri coaching clients, I worked with many other triathletes and swimmers as well using the Total Immersion Method of teaching and improving their freestyle stroke.  It was a busy but successful year for Tri 4 Fun.  Another miles stone for Coach Thea was that 2014 was the first year that I had not done a race in 13 years and the break was well needed.  I am looking forward to a new season for my athletes and myself in 2015.   I am currently booked as I took on less athletes this year so I could train. I want to wish all athletes a happy and healthy 2015 Season!!

Coach Thea

Great 2014 Season!!

Princeton 70.3 Ironman:

Congrats to John Mackin, Ian Davis, Frank Grande, Karen Okupniak, Lisa Glazer, Maggie Subhas and Mickey Neuhauser who competed in their first 70.3 in Princeton on Sept 21st! You all did amazing and it was an honor to coach you to your first one.

Rugters Half Marathon- Congrats to Ian Davis, Maggie Subhas, Lisa Glazer,  and Henry Sacco

Cape May 10 miler- Congrats Karen Okupniak

Cape May Marathon- Congrats  Jay Skanes(hubby) who got his Boston Qualifier!

Bassman- Congrats to Karen OKupniak on your first Triathlon!!

Jersey Devilman- Congrats to Dan Tannenbaum on your first Dualthon!

Jerseyman-Congrats to John Mackin who killed this course and place 10th in a tough field of contentors in his age group. Your times over last year are sick!!  Can’t wait to see what you bring to the rest of the races.

Wildwood Half Marathon-Congrats Karen Opukniak on your half marathon PR!  Woot!

Black Bear- Congrats to Ian Davis on a 20 minute improvement over last year and PR on course!  Woot!!  Watch out Chicago ITU!!

Flat As Pancake- Congrats to Dan Tannenbaum and Maggie Subhas on your race!  Maggie got 3rd in her age group.  Way to Go!   Maggie also just got 3rd in her age group at a local 1 mile swim!!

Escape the Cape- Way to go Karen Opuknaik on this race!  Way to stick to the race plan.

Chicago ITU- Congrats to Ian Davis on his race.  Nice Strong race!  You will be ready to PR at NJ State.

NJ State Triathlon weekend- Tri 4 Fun Athletes all did an amazing job.  So many firsts and quite a few PR’S!!!

West Point Triathlon-Congrats to Henry Sacco. You had a good race.

Shoreman Aqua Bike- Congrats to Lisa Glazer and Maggie Subhas on your finish.  Both ladies got 1st in their age groups!!

IronGirl- BIG congrats to Roopa Makhija on your very first triathlon!  You just learned to swim and did your first 25 yards without stopping in June and look at you now!


Coach Thea


Swimming is always changing

Each day as I work with clients, I explain all the reasons for working on form to be able to swim more efficiently and faster.  Today, on Beginner Triathlete, they posted this article and I thought I would post out to all my swim clients and those following my website.  Over the years swim technique has changed and research has shown us how to change our strokes to get more efficient.  I love teaching Total Immersion swimming because it addresses the main areas spoken of in this post.  As a swim coach for many years, I try and incorporate both Total Immersion and traditional swimming drills when teaching my triathletes swimming or when coaching my masters classes.

Post from Beginner Triathlete by Gary Sr from The Race Club;
Much has changed in swimming over the past 30 years. I will summarize the most important changes in two categories; swim training and swimming technique. Both are critical to fast swimming.

Swim Training:

  • Swim yardage in practice is less overall, but much more intense on the hard days, with more training closer to race pace. Swimmers train smarter, not harder.
  • Recovery days have been appreciated as being as important as the intense training days.
  • Training cycles, changing the type of training in a season, have become much more appreciated and utilized.
  • Training in all five disciplines (swimming, strength, mental, nutrition and recovery ) have become essential to maximize swimming performance.
  • Much more equipment and technology are used today to train. Once a kickboard and pull buoy were the only required equipment. Today, a large mesh bag is needed to hold all of the equipment such as fins, paddles, snorkel, bands, tempo trainer, resistance bands etc.
  • More emphasis on kicking as a critical component of fast swimming, particularly the dolphin kick.

Swimming Technique: (All taught and focused on with Total Immersion Swimming by Tri 4 Fun Training)

  • Much greater awareness today of the adverse consequences of frontal drag, with more emphasis on technique that reduces drag.
  • An appreciation of the need to develop different techniques for different distances and different skill sets. One size does not fit all in swimming.
  • Clearer understanding of the two basic different freestyle strokes, hip-driven and shoulder-driven, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • More emphasis on developing sustained tighter kicking and kicking in both directions.
  • Learning to pull in freestyle with more of a straight path backward and a high elbow rather than the big S-shaped pull with a deeper drop.
  • Using the body rotation more in freestyle and backstroke to increase power and distance per stroke

We will never have all of the answers in swimming, but we seem to get a better understanding each year of the complex movements and training required to reach one’s potential. As soon as we think we have it all figured out, though, a swimmer comes along that proves we still don’t know enough. That is what keeps this sport interesting.

As 2012 Ends and 2013 Begins…..

It has been a while since I have posted anything.  Life seems to just get busier and busier and so much time passes before you realize it.  I never seem to have time to write especially this past year.  As 2012 ends and 2013 begins, I would like to say goodbye to a year that brought happy and sad times for me and my family as it does for most.  I am so thankful to have my family in years like 2012. They are what gets us through all the tough times and makes the happy times all the better.

As 2013 begins, I am looking forward to an active year.  I have signed up for another Ironman even though, a year ago I would have not thought it possible.  I spent 2012 with a hamstring injury and hit a real rough spot after my bike crash in May 2012.  I did manage to squeak out one full Olympic tri and two Half iron distance Aqua Bikes.  I even set a couple PR on my bike times which I was thrilled at.   I have signed up for Rev3 Quassy Half Ironman distance in June, Lake Placid Ironman in July and hope to sneak some sprints in as well in the spring.

I want to thank my clients for a great year.  My RWJ Tri group completed in their first triathlon at NJ State and all did amazing.  They were such an inspirational group of people who got up and started training 3 days at week at 5:15am.  The program is now going to be called the “Team 5:15″.   So appropriately named by the group not me.  I love it!  The program starts again in March 2013 with a program for first time Sprint and Olympic Distance triathletes.  My Tri 4 Fun Training clients all did amazing in 2012.  Several clients placed in their age groups or set PR’s.  The best part of coaching is in watching your athletes compete and do well.  I was fortunate enough to get to see alot of my clients races this year.  Seeing their faces as they cross the finish line is what it is all about!

The Central Jersey Tri Club finished its second year in 2012 and my last year as the club president.  The last two years as club president were hard, frustrating, exhausting  but most of all extremely fufilling.  All of which I was warned it would be by a local race director, when I helped get the club started.  The best part is that I have met,trained and worked with so many great people.  There is nothing like the Triathlon community to be part of.  We each come to this sport for different reasons, race or compete with different goals, but always come together to have a good time and celebrate the fact we can ALL do it.  As 2013 starts, my role with Central Jersey Tri Club will be as Vice President and coach.  My role will be more coaching than administative and I am so happy to get back to what I truly love, Coaching!

My journey with Total Immersion continues in 2013.  I hope to become an even more efficient swimmer and hope to help others to swim more efficiently.   I have classes scheduled and full already for the winter session and more private lessons starting every week.  I am always excited to see my Total Immersion clients make the discovery of swimming with ease and fluidity.  As a tri coach, I love helping those who would normally never consider participating in a triathlon because of the swim, learn to swim with confidence and ease.

I hope you are thankful for what you were able to do, learn and experience in 2012 and are setting goals for a fantastic 2013!!  I sure am!

Happy New Year!!!!!



Running in the Snow

What a great way to start my day today.  I ran a long run in the snow!  If you never tried it, you should.  Of course be prepared for it with correct apparel, shoes and find a course that is not heavy on traffic.  Most of the time in my long runs, I am going faster than I should.  In the snow, I am forced to slow down and be careful.  It felt like I could have gone forever today.  The snow made the run so peaceful and zen like.  The world was quiet and still it seemed as the snow fell around me.  It was a great way to center myself for the day.  Can’t wait for the next snowy day.

Starting a New Triathlon Club

I am so excited about being part of the new triathlon club that is starting up in my area.  There has never been a club close until now for this community and the response to this has been overwhelmingly great.  The Board and Committee members are putting so much into this there is no way it will not be a success. I am sure we will have some growing pains to get through.  All we can hope is that everyone is kind and understands that we are all volunteers doing this.  Most of us have full times jobs and families that have to come first then the club activities.  As a community club, it is up to all the members to chip in and help out.  As they say it takes a village to raise a family and it will take a village to run a successful triathlon club.

Being Thankful!

This is the time of year when we reflect upon what we are thankful for.  When I look back over the year I have had, I am thankful for so many things.  First is for family.  I have two great boys and a terrrific husband who without their help and understanding, I would never be able to do what I do.   You make me a better women and coach.

I am thankful for friends who are always there to support me and help me in my goals.  There are many of you out there who deserve a pat on the back.  Thanks for having come into my life for what ever purpose or time I get with you, I am grateful.  Some of you put me in my place when I get too crazy, bring me back to earth when I need to get real, support me when I feel down, and share my joy when things are good.

I am thankful for the clients that honor me by allowing me to help them reach their triathlon goals.  I started my passion in triathlons solely in a selfish manner.  It was all about me and how I did.  Through coaching, you have allowed me to realize that the real joy in being part of the triathlon commmunity is in seeing  my clients achieve their goals.  This year was especially amazing for me.  I coached a youth, who has challenges, do his first triathlon and place 3rd in his age group.  I got to witness that face as he crossed the finish line and got his award.  I will never forget it!!   It will always be a highlight of my coaching career. I have a client that faces getting out of bed everyday with unbearable pain, do her first olympic triathlon and has a goal of doing a Half Ironman. I hope that I get to be part of that goal! I got to help clients who never imagined every doing an olympic triathlon not only do one, but do great in their age groups.  I had several swim clients that I coached place in their age groups for the first time ever and others who were amazed at what they did in their swims.  Some clients did their first triathon ever and did not stop.  They went as far as to do a Half Ironman in their first year.   It is true that real joy comes from helping others. 

May we always remember those who enter our life , even if only for a brief moment in time.  They impact who we are today and forever.  Thanks to those who have entered my life this year and made it what it is.  AMAZING!!!