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Into the open water


In September, Phil Downes set up GO TRI Active sessions to introduce new people to open water and give them confidence in swimming there.

As a triathlon coach, Downes is regularly supporting different people into swim, bike, run and helping them to develop their skills.

Organising open water sessions at Bicester Performance Lake, he ran the GO TRI Active sessions to give more people the opportunity to give it a go for themselves.

“With Covid-19 restrictions allowing for the sessions to take place it felt like a great time to give people the chance to try something new,” Downes said.

“The physical and mental health benefits of exercise and outdoor swimming are well known and, as a triathlon coach, these sessions are a great way for me to offer support.

“Running them under the GO TRI banner also helped give new people confidence that it is for beginners and that they can come with zero experience and fit right in.”

GO TRI Active sessions are designed to help build confidence in the disciplines that comprise triathlon, with Downes using his experience of coaching athletes at various levels to build confidence in those attending.

“Confidence is key when people are trying anything new and the same applies to open water swimming,” he commented. “We try and make them as comfortable as possible and help ease their nerves and build their confidence by taking it step-by-step.

“We try and give them a good idea before we enter the water of what to expect then, when we’re in the water, we take it at their pace.”

Downes ran the sessions out of Bicester Performance Lake and is looking to work with the venue to run more regular activities next year.

“A couple of people who attended the GO TRI sessions have since gone back and continued to enjoy open water swimming,” added Downes. “The lake have been fantastic in helping the sessions to take place and get people active and, regulations permitting, we’re looking to try and organise more regular activity in the new year.

“Working with the lake and facilities at Bicester Gym, these triathlon sessions will be open for all abilities because I really want to help existing triathletes to fulfil their potential as well as introduce people who are looking to try something new.”

You can find out more about Downes and his coaching by emailing phildownescoaching@gmail.com.


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