As the community of SwimMastery coaches continues to expand rapidly we thought it would be a good idea to profile some of the coaches in more depth, exploring their background, philosophy and inspirations. First up we spoke to Claire Sutton who runs her business, Swimfinity, from an idyllic village less than half an hour from Leeds and around seven miles from Selby in West Yorkshire.

Claire kindly took time out to talk to us from her preparations for her forthcoming freestyle workshop at The Forum Centre in Leeds on October 31st which she will be running jointly with SwimMastery co-founder Tracey Baumann

“When did you start coaching?” 

I began in 2018 when I decided that I needed a career change. I had re-discovered my love for swimming a few years earlier and it seemed to be a very logical step to take this to the next level

“Do you remember learning to swim?” 

I remember winning a gold medal at Butlins holiday camp aged 6, up against all 6-9 year-olds in an outdoor unheated pool. My only memory of actually learning to swim is of holding the side, refusing to move! I do remember following a pole that the teacher was holding to get my 10m badge.

“What were your early experiences like?” 

Learning to swim was an adventure and swimming for the City of Leeds was really cool. Travelling to Ireland, Germany and all over the UK to swim was totally inspiring. We swam in Stuttgart and Dublin, both times staying with exchange families. Those memories are still very vivid 40 years on!

“What gives you the most satisfaction when coaching?” 

I love video analysis, 30minute lessons showing the progress people make is really motivating. Taking a splashy, panicky front crawl swimmer to a calm relaxed smooth swimmer is the favourite part for me.

“What are the most challenging aspects of coaching?” 

Access to open water is hard where I live, there is loads around Yorkshire but getting to coach in those venues can be tricky. Fortunately, I have a number of locations I can use including the River Wharfe near Boston Spa, Leeds Docks and the east coast sea.

“How has your coaching style changed over the years?” 

I’ve been in teaching for over 20 years and always knew I wanted to teach from being as young as 7. Coaching is so much more effective and giving the swimmer, child or adult, the tools to take away and improve by themselves is the biggest change.

“Where is the best place you have ever swum?” 

I guess the English Channel was cool but not the cleanest water so maybe the Caribbean for the fact that the water was so clear.

“Where would you like to swim that you have yet to visit?” 

Iceland is a must for me, where the tectonic plates meet and you can swim over them. It’s on my bucket list to do before I’m 50!

“Who do you most admire in the swimming world and why?” 

You know, my daughter was asked this question about which footballer she admired most and she said, she thinks a lot of people inspire her but she wouldn’t want to be like them. I think this is the same for me; Olympians, World Record holders, ocean swimmers, all are inspiring but actually ultimately I swim for me and my health and wellbeing, not to be like anyone or to copy anyone.

“How do you feel when you swim?” 

Now that depends on the water, temperature, location and company but I can say, a swim never makes me feel bad!

“Who gave you the best advice/information about swimming and what was it?” 

That has to be my swim buddy Andrea Hall. Recently we’ve decided to swim for peace, not pace and for this reason, every swim is relaxing, not pressured and in our own time.

“What do you aim to provide for your students?” 

Whatever their goal is! That could be a Channel swim, a 5m swim or just putting their face in the water. Every student is different. That’s what makes the job so interesting.

“Why did you choose to use the SwimMastery method of teaching and coaching?” 

That’s easy, Tracey Baumann and Mat Hudson were both respected coaches in the world of swimming already. Tracey trained me originally so to follow her and Mat and be able to learn more from them is crucial for both my development in swimming and for my students to know that I personally have the best coaches working with me.

“What are your ambitions for the future both as a swimmer and also as a coach?”

A Channel solo has to be on my long term swimming list but in 2022 it’s Lake Windermere one way. As for coaching, I am planning on installing a cold water plunge pool at the studio soon. I also have the first SwimMastery workshop to deliver on 31st October. After that, I would like to start swim camps around the world, when the world opens up again! 

Thank you, Claire and good luck with the workshop!”

There are still a few places available on the workshop so, if you hurry, you may still be able to bag a place. Please contact Claire for details.

Swimfinity summary

Area covered: Yorkshire

Facilities at the studio: Endless Pool, private change area, refreshments, Video Analysis

Open water facilities nearby: Leeds Dock, East Coast Sea, River Wharfe, Boston Spa.

One to one or small group teaching available for: Kids, Adults, Nervous / novice swimmers, Triathletes  Channel swimmers, Cold water swimmers, Open water swimmers.

Other teaching: Workshops, Camps – soon hopefully!

Claire can be contacted at:

Website: http://swimfinity.net 

Facebook: [email protected]

 Email: [email protected]

 Phone/WhatsApp: 07947730830

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