Mid Season Report

by The Coaches on July 28, 2016

End of July feels like the “Dog Days of Summer” this year in the Mid-Atlantic. Start-tri is just back from (a little bit cooler) Lake Placid where many triathletes competed in the now iconic 18th annual Ironman Lake Placid. This year the race presented itself with no rain, but a blazing sun that did not let up the whole day! While the temps were not as high as in years past, the dropout/DNF rate of 9% was the highest ever! That being said, Start-tri athletes all crossed the line safely and can call themselves an Ironman:) We were also lucky to witness the engagement of two first time IM finishers Hallie Halsey and Justin Berutich at the magical finish line!
Congrats to Ian Davis, John Mackin, Ed Riley, Bernie Garruppo, Justin Berutich, Hallie Halsey, Matt Lefkowitz, Amy Campbell and Leon Herszon!!!

Next up, Tuckahoe Tri, Belmar Tri, Rev3 Poconos Oly/70.3, West Point Tri, Ironman Mt. Tremblant, Lake Welch Tri, Skylands Tri, Savageman 70.3, Ironman Maryland, Ironman NC and others…Good luck at all races:)

This season has brought many podiums and AG wins in short course races. We have been updating along the way on Facebook and Twitter.

I want to thank all Start-tri athletes who have been competing and who continue to compete through the summer.

Justin Berutich
Alminda Brundyn
Kristin Cacicedo
Mickey Cassu
Ian Davis
Hallie Halsey
Leon Herszon
Pete Kavalus
Zoltan Kemecsei
Matt Lefkowitz
Susan Levy
John Mackin
Max Marell
Morgan Miller
Lori Morris
Deirdre O’Mara
Ed Riley
Steve Schepps
Matt Stock
Mike Tropea
Dave Swezey
Tom Whelan

See you all at the races…

Coach Mickey


Summer almost here…

by The Coaches on June 16, 2016

Action is heating up (and so is the weather) for Start-tri athletes this weekend…Tom Whelan will be hitting the Atlantic as he takes on the Asbury Park ice breaker swim.

Traveling to Staten Island to race the classic Flat as a Pancake Triathlon will be Steve Grimes, Mike Grussgott, Coach Mickey Cassu, Coach Kristin Cacicedo ???, Scott Johnson and long-time queen-bee Patty Willetts MacNaught from Paramount.

Further down the coast Morgan Miller will be racing the Manahawkin Triathlon.

In northern NJ, Steve Schepps will be tackling the hilly Wyckoff Triathlon.

Turn to Father’s Day and Asbury Park will be host to the annual Jersey Shore Triathlon. First timer Max Marell, Susan Levy and coach Mickey Cassu will be trying their luck in the Atlantic.

Not content with short races, recent Start-tri campers Hallie Halsey and Justin Berutich will be tackling the always difficult Syracuse half-Ironman.

Next weekend brings some more half-iron races. Leon Herszon will be looking to PR at the classic Tupper Lake Tinman in the hilly Adirondacks.

Iron-couple Matt Lefkowitz and Amy Campbell as well as Dave Swezey will be traveling north of the border to take on the challenging Mt. Tremblant 70.3.

Good luck to all racers!

See you at the races…


BY BRYAN MINEO | Fellow Swim Mechanics Coach (info below)

How are you breathing? Do you notice that you tend to hold your breath during stressful moments? Does your breathing become shallow or rapid when overwhelmed at work or school? Few of us give much thought to breathing. We breathe 10 million times per year! It comes naturally. However, we’re not fish. In the water, knowing how much air you should be ventilating the lungs with can be tricky but is necessary to creating an efficient freestyle.

There are two extremely common breathing errors I find in swimmers: working with too much air and late timing to each breath. This creates a slew of negative effects in your stroke, from a dropped body position, to excessive drag, to increased heart rate and wasted energy. The breath is the foundation of your stroke and should always be considered closely first before any other element of your stroke. With discerned breathing focus in the water, you can raise the ceiling of your swimming potential.

How Much Air Do I Need?

Take notice of the natural rise and fall your breath maintains on it’s own before you push off the wall for your next lap. Because of how regular you take oxygen in, about 20 times a minute, your body isn’t demanding a great volume of air each breath. The same approach should apply during your swimming. The goal is to utilize about half of your lung capacity each breath, meaning your inhale and exhale should be equal, leaving a bit of dead air in the lungs, opposed to completely emptying the lungs each exhale. This dead air volume will allow you to maintain neutral buoyancy and body position in the water. Many swimmers take too large of inhales, causing extra buoyancy in the chest, subsequently causing a drop in the hips and legs in the water.

Each inhale should be a small sip of air through the mouth, rather than a large, frantic gulp of air. Knowing that the next inhale is only 2-3 seconds away ensures that your body isn’t demanding any more oxygen each breathing cycle than the small sip.

As for your exhalation, in a relaxed, sighing sort of manner, allow both your nose and mouth to gently expire the same volume of carbon dioxide each breath. Strive to gently blow small bubbles out of your nose and mouth the entire time your face is in the water. Pay close attention that you are not holding your breath when you face first enters the water each stroke. The split second your face enters the water is when the exhale should begin, creating a smooth, seamless breathing cycle and stroke.

Sync it up

Knowing how to properly and effectively ventilate your lungs is one thing, but equally important is maximizing the amount of time you have for each breath during freestyle. It’s common to feel as if you don’t have ample time for each inhale, and luckily the fix is quite simple. The problem lies within the timing of your inhale, meaning literally when you start and finish the breath.

There is a specific unilateral breathing pattern you should be employing specific to open water swimming. Breathing every stroke, but occasionally alternating sides for symmetry and balance, allows you to sync the cadence of your stroke precisely with the rhythm of your breath. Using the mental device of saying in your head, “inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale,” will hold you accountable to focusing on your breathing. This will help to eliminate any breath holding that may be occurring while your face is in the water, as well as help you time the breath precisely with your stroke. For a left-sided breath, assign the inhale to your right arm and the exhale to your left arm. During freestyle, as your right hand slices into the water, your head and body rotate to the left side. Precisely when your right arm reaches full extension is when you should begin your inhale. If you find that your right arm is already dropping or pushing down on the water as you begin your inhale, your timing is late.

On the following stroke your left hand slices forward and body rotates to the right. Your face should return to the water simultaneously as your left arm reaches its most extended position. If you’re able to see your left hand pass your face and slice into the water, you are finishing your inhale late. This creates a hitch in your stroke and break in momentum and power.

Practice these two precise timings by slowing your stroke rate down a hair, and/or using a pull buoy to take the legs out of the equation temporarily. More often than not, you’ll find that the timing of your breath is late, causing a snowball effect of bad habits. The easy solution is to sync the breath with your stroke.

Focus on Your Breath

Our brains are only able to process and focus on one thing at a time. Your breath should always be your first focal point when swimming. Once you have the effort and timing of your breath dialed in, you can then move on and focus on an additional element of your stroke. If at any point you find yourself breathing shallow and constricted or feeling especially tense, tune back into the breath to reset your stroke. Keeping close attention to your breathing while swimming open water is particularly valuable as it helps to isolate your focus, and distract your mind from any negative self-talk or pre-existing fears. Remember: Focus on your breath.

The Swim Mechanic, Bryan Mineo, is an open water swim mechanics coach based in Los Angeles. His methodology is uniquely specific to the needs of triathletes. Bryan teaches an ‘order of operations’ by educating athletes on the cause and effect of their stroke inefficiencies. The Swim Mechanic holds clinics around the country, as well as writes monthly articles on swimming mechanics for several national publications.


Lake Placid Training Weekend Workshop June 9-June 12, 2016

January 28, 2016

PROGRAM OBJECTIVE: A focused and fun to intense weekend of pre-season training and informative presentations to prepare triathletes for successful racing in 2016 @ IMLP or other venues. Schedule is adaptable to individual needs. PRESENTERS /TRAINING GROUP LEADERS: Mickey Cassu and guests. USAT certified coach and multiple IMUSA finishes. WHERE:Training and activities will take place [...]

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Why Triathletes Should Go Trail Running

January 9, 2016

Hit the trails! Try trail running for better balance, power and fun Republished with permission of VeloPress from “Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running” by Lisa Jhung with illustrations by Charlie Layton. For more, visit velopress.com/trail. Why: Your Body Running on trails does a body good. Thanks to varied terrain and softer natural [...]

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Fundamentals of Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

December 20, 2015

Good Points by fellow USAT coach TONY ZAMORA With the cooler and shorter days among us, now is the perfect time to head indoors and focus on strength training. Triathletes live busy schedules and have to find the time to train for three sports. Adding in a fourth of weight training always seems to get [...]

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Season ending races…

October 19, 2015

Well Autumn is upon us… Congratulations to all of the Start-tri athletes (past and present) that tackled everything from sprint triathlons to Ironman races, 5K runs to marathons and even a ride across the USA! We were at 100% finishes for all athletes that began an Ironman!!! Recent finishes included numerous awards at the Triathlon [...]

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Need some motivation through the hot days (Dog Days of Summer)…

August 31, 2015

Start-tri athlete, Lawrence Writer, is taking on the journey of a lifetime. He is biking from Portland, OR to Portland, ME. Discovering our great country along the way. Be sure to follow his blog (along with some great pictures): http://p2p2015.blogspot.com/?spref=fb Train smart, Race hard, Have fun… The coaches

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Happy Bastille Day!

July 14, 2015

As Le Tour de France heats up and heads into the Pyrenees (home of my paternal side), I continue to be amazed at what these athletes can do! Here on the home front our own Start-Tri athletes have had some very impressive results! At the Flat as a Pancake Tri, the Start-tri Team brought home [...]

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At the races…

May 26, 2015

Racing season has hit the Northeast in the last few weeks!!! After a long winter many Start-tri athletes emerged from hibernation at the Jerseyman Triathlon. Zoli Kemescei, Dave Swezey, Tom Whelan, Matt Starr, Mike Tropea and Coach Mickey tackled the tough course and all had good finishes. This weekend saw racers Tom Whelan, Matt Starr [...]

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