Finding Inspiration Together with Bree Soileau
If you're a member of San Antonio's small triathlete community, you might know Bree Soileau as one half of the husband and wife team behind the popular Crossfit Box and triathlon club, Alamo 180 . But what you might not know is that Bree is making a splash on her own with the launch of the Swim Simple Method, a virtual swim coaching program that allows participants to learn on their own time and at their own pace. Based on her years of experience as a competitive swimmer, triathlete, and USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Bree's approach combines a variety of drills in a systematic way that makes learning to freestyle fun. You can follow her on Instagram at @swimsimplemethod and, in the meantime, you can get to know more about this inspirational athlete and "mompreneur" below.
How long have you been swimming?
My mother enrolled me in swimming lessons at Blossom Athletic Center when I was five-years-old. She had a traumatic experience in the water as a child, and was scared of water as a result. She still won't wash her face in the shower. She didn't want to pass that fear along to me so she made sure I learned properly. I joined the swim team at Blossom in middle school and participated in my first tri in high school. I earned a scholarship in running to the University of the Incarnate Word, so swimming got put on the back burner for a bit, but I got back into swimming and triathlons after I graduated.
Why did you develop the Swim Simple Method ?
When I met my husband, we started doing triathlon coaching together just for fun because we wanted to train with other people. When we turned it into a business, I started to realize that most people could run and bike, but the swim was the thing that was keeping them out of the sport. I started with a program through Alamo 180 called Rookie to Race that was a tri training program, but people were intimidated because they didn't think they could put all the pieces together. The swim was holding them back.That's when I decided to create a program that focused entirely on swimming. I wanted to get people confident and excited about triathlons and tri training.
Describe the Swim Simple Method.
The Swim Simple Method is a series of drills that build upon each other week after week. Each module is a drill, and there are 12 drills to get to freestyle. The course is self-paced, and students are instructed not to proceed to the next drill until they have mastered the current module. Each video has a voice-over audio where I explain the movements and offer simple cuing such as, "point your bellybutton to the corner." If students want feedback, they can film themselves performing the drill and we can meet virtually through a platform like Zoom and talk through it.
Why a virtual program? Why not live coaching?
I started with a live coaching program that took people from blowing bubbles to freestyle using a similar, modular method. Every week we reviewed the previous week's drills before moving on to the new skill set. The problem was that if someone missed class, they missed an important component of the program. To remedy that, I began using my phone to shoot these really amateur videos of me performing the drills so the students could practice and review them prior to class. What happened was that the students really started improving and showing up to class with the drills perfectly executed. It made sense to me that if I wanted to help people, I could reach more people virtually.
How do you help people overcome a fear of the water?
The Swim Simple Method is all about fun! When I was in college I taught swimming lessons to young children and I've discovered that the same methods that work for kids work for adults as well. The sillier you are and the more games you play, the more you are able to take your mind off of any anxiety you are feeling. We learn proper stroke form by pretending to scoop ice cream, and we hum songs underwater to learn how to exhale water from the nose slowly and gently. Humming is actually the first thing I teach!
Who can benefit from the Swim Simple Method?
EVERYONE! From the triathlete looking to improve her form, to the newbie who's terrified of putting his face in the water, to the runner who wants to cross train, or anyone recovering from injury. Because swimming is a great cardio exercise that tones the body while going easy on the joints, it's a great exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. Plus, learning to swim properly opens up a world of possibilities because when you are confident in the water you can enjoy more things like boating on a lake or snorkeling in the ocean.
What are your top tips for the beginner swimmer?
1. Wear what's comfortable for you--whether that's a swim suit or shorts and a sports bra. If you are self-conscious you won't be able to concentrate.
2. Stay in the shallow end until you feel comfortable. If your pool lane gets gradually deeper, turn around when you can no longer touch the bottom.
3. Swim with friends. It makes it more fun, keeps you accountable, and adds an extra measure of safety--especially in open water.
4. Get nice goggles. Nothing is more stressful than water getting in your eyes. To know if your goggles are a good fit, hold them to your face and gently press. If they suction to your face without the strap, they will not leak in the pool.
5. Just start! Don't wait until you are confident to begin. The confidence will come as you learn. Every drill you accomplish is one step closer to freestyle.
Where can people sign up?
The program will officially launch in mid-March, but you can purchase it now through the links on my social media pages.