Last week, the state’s emerging talent squad recently completed a six-day pre-season training camp in Mudgee as part of Triathlon NSW’s development pathway program for juniors aged 16-19.
We sat down with Triathlon NSW Coach Education and Pathway Manager Mick Delamotte to discuss the success of the camp.
At what state in their development are the Emerging Talent Squad?
This is a late specialisation sport and these kids are in the very early stages of the development cycle; physiologically, psychologically, tactically and technically.
How important is a quality pre-season camp in preparing the athletes for the season ahead?
The camp provides another opportunity to develop skills that other race style environments are unable to. The physical training component is only part of the camp objectives. The camp is not a flog fest. We are really focussed on providing the tools for the athlete to manage themselves outside of training sessions so they develop the complete independence so they can cope with life on the road as a professional triathlete.
What were the key focus areas of the camp?
The camp provided athletes with opportunities to develop their 'life skills' to be able to cope with the demands of travel & independence required as a pro triathlete wishing to perform on the world stage:
Budget, shop, cook & clean daily. Maintaining personal hygiene standards appropriate for performance environments, keeping personal space and group environments clean & tidy, daily equipment checks, hydration monitoring through USG testing, time management to ensure the athletes are on time for all activities, team play, co-operation, tolerance, patience, respect, appropriate rest & recovery strategies and down time.
Training sessions provided opportunities to develop skills with draft legal racing, running efficiency, open water swimming, pilates, strength & conditioning, MS Screening opportunities and general body awareness, maintenance and stability.
How important is teaching the young athletes the importance of the non-training elements of diet, nutrition, rest and recovery?
We deliberately designed a camp for six days which meant the athletes could not get away with poor nutritional habits and recovery strategies. As a result, the athletes were very focussed on the importance of nutrition, hydration, rest and recovery as the week wore on and valued the benefits of not simply 'getting through' a session, but being as well prepared as possible for each.
We are a multi-sport & training demands at an elite level are far higher than what these athletes are normally exposed to. The difference in professional management means greater potential to perform as required in each training session. There were lessons in managing cumulative fatigue and mitigating the risks of injury & illness. Successfully managing these issues creates one of the most underrated benefits of being a professional athlete - long term consistency of training.
Why was Mudgee chosen as a destination for the camp?
Logistically Mudgee provides a safe and easy camp structure. The roads are wide, traffic is low and cycling is therefore safer, which is the number one consideration for any development camp.
The accommodation allowed for athletes to cook each day, the local shops are close by and provide a variety of supermarkets and produce choices for athletes.
The local community are tremendous: the Triathlon Club, the local athletes & families, they all want to contribute to ensure we have everything we need; it’s like an oversize homestay environment. I’ve personally conducted annual camps in Mudgee for over 10 years, so I know the area well and this makes daily camp management easy.
Can you explain how the local Mudgee Triathlon Club and their athletes were involved in the camp and why you chose to do so?
We have always had a strong relationship with the locals, the Kastelein and Pitt families have been amazing support each year and like last year a few of the local Mudgee Devils joined us for the skills sessions.
The local coaches emerged themselves into our daily training environment, helping with logistics, suggesting venues to best meet session objectives, and conducting sessions as well.
It was great to have the local Tri Club involved. Our juniors took on a leadership role with the young pups from Mudgee, and they held their own in the skills session which was awesome.
I told stories of the 'old days' where Mudgee often hosted the State Junior Championships where a few of our current professional athletes once competed. It is also the home of Nick Kastelein Jnr who competes as a professional in Hawaii next weekend, and comes off a season where he won Ironman Switzerland. So, like most regional areas, it is a production ground for champions.
Matt Sweeney from our sponsors at Precision Athletica came to the camp. What were his duties and how beneficial was his presence there?
Matt was great to work, we shared a cabin for a couple of days and he certainly shares a similar view with regards to long term athlete development and the fact that stability, developing good movement patterns and being very body aware are critical foundations for talent and development post school years.
Matt provided great support to the athletes in the time he spent in the camp, conducting MS screenings, doing some dry land sessions and post session recovery work and lectures. He was of great benefit to the environment.
What is the next camp coming up for NSW Development athletes?
We have a record 56 Youth to U/23 athletes registered for the Runaway Bay Super Sprint weekend in December which will see us all in camp for four days, so that will be a huge logistical operation and no doubt plenty of fun and development opportunities for each of the athletes.
Clinic dates, venues and objectives continue to be organised which will include Talent Transfer opportunities for athletes to be invited into the clinics that currently don't compete in triathlon but may wish to give it a go. So, you if anyone is reading this and thinks there is a Youth or Junior who may have what it takes, please get in contact. We are certainly interested in enticing kids to try the sport and make it part of their multi-sport environment. Maybe one day they decide to choose triathlon as their primary sport...