Today I'm proud to present another of the athletes training in my squad. Melanie's story has a twist, I'd say about three positive twists. When I first met Mel at a camp for new athletes it was obvious that Mel was no ordinary beginner. She rode well, ran solid too, but couldn't swim. It was a nightmare for someone that wanted to be competitive, and one thing from day one, that one could not help to see, is that Mel is competitive.
Melanie wanted to take it further, so she joined up with one of our coaches and one of my champion ex-athletes, the "viqueen" Lisbeth Kristensen. Lisbeth won Trisutto's first ITU Long Distance World Championship back in 2001. Infact, back then I only trained Olympic distance athletes but circumstances happened and she found her way into our squad and I would state, was the main reason for me to follow my Ironman coaching career. Over 6 years Lisbeth turned Mel into a bike monster and a very powerful runner. Mel became an age group terror, riding and running not only the women but the men in her category down. However that swim just stopped her from taking her dream step of one day being a pro.
Many mini camps with swim guru me, failed to make an impact on the pesky swim. Meanwhile, Mel took an interest in coaching, which Lisbeth and I encouraged. Here is her journey.
Sports have always played a big part in my life. As a child I was very active, and involved in all kinds of sports; both team sports like handball and soccer, and individual sports such as cycling. My Mom and Dad were always very encouraging and supportive in whatever sport my brothers and I chose. My Dad was a big influence for my growing passion for the sport of cycling. I followed his lead and his passion and enjoyed his full support.
In my 20s I strayed off track for quite some time though, leading to a low point in my life, with smoking, unhealthy eating and drinking. I became overweight and inactive. I felt I was on a downward spiral. A turning point came at the late age of 29 years.., I realised that sports needed to be a vital component in my life, being important for both my mental and physical well-being. This led me on a new path. I started swimming and running, and in addition to my cycling, I set myself the challenge of finishing an Ironman!
Up until then I led a quite normal life for a long time, growing up near Basel with my family. I later commenced an apprenticeship as a media designer, a field I worked in for quite some time. I then studied a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of Applied Science, working full time as an accountant/consultant for many years until changing my main focus to Triathlon. I certainly can understand how life circumstances can affect and limit the training.
Setting the challenge of completing an Ironman started initially as a once in a lifetime goal, yet it quickly became a big part of my life. Now, a further 10 years later, triathlon has become my biggest passion!
When I started triathlon I worked with a coach for 5 years before I joined Trisutto. Teaming up with coach Lisbeth Kristensen (for almost 6 years) taught me just how much a great coach-athlete partnership can achieve. Training under the Trisutto methodology helped me in achieving some great results in my age group, upon which we made the decision to step up to professional racing. I really enjoy this beautiful sport, being around like-minded people and living my passion, whilst being able to travel around the world, seeing so many beautiful places and cultures.
Being involved in triathlon has also ignited my passion for coaching. Learning from both Lisbeth and Brett, I have become a big believer in the Trisutto method of coaching; learning from the very best was the logical step for me. A couple of years ago I signed up to study the Trisutto Coaching Certification and upon completion I am now coaching a small group of wonderful athletes. I have also started my own triathlon team. When I decided to start coaching, and as part of becoming a better coach, I also commenced a Master's degree in Mental Coaching at the University of Salzburg. I’m a strong believer that the mind is a very important part in how much of your potential you are actually going to use.
I am excited for the journey ahead.
The epilogue to this fantastic journey is that Melanie's previous coach advised her to take the plunge and join my squad, to be coached on a daily basis. To also learn first hand on deck about 'real coaching' and whilst there, work on the swim. The story has been interrupted by the covid lock down, however what it did is allow Melanie and the swim guru to find a stroke that would enable her dream to race as a pro.
The ending is a happy one, as during most peoples break from swimming Melanie found the key to that pesky swim. While it ain't pretty, she is swimming 10 sec per 100 faster than ever before and now when she looks up the start list, she sees 'pro' next to her name. She is an absolute inspiration, nothing more I can say.
Well done Mel, well done Lisbeth a true happy journey that hasn't ended yet!
Banner photo: James Mitchell Photography