We’re a relatively small triathlon club but proud to have several British Triathlon level two qualified coaches, planning and leading our training sessions. Each brings their own coaching, experience and characters to the club, working together to offer training across all three disciplines and professional advice. Whether you’re new to the sport, a seasoned triathlete or just looking to join us for training, our coaches are here to help and provide any assistance.

Jon Pressling (Lead Coach) – BTF Level 2

How long have you been involved in triathlon and coaching?

My triathlon journey began back in 2009 when I entered my first triathlon – Exe Valley Sprint Triathlon. I had only been a runner on the local circuit up until then and the first club I joined was South Devon AC. My dad has been involved with the sport since it’s early days and so challenged me to give triathlon a go and race against him at Exe Valley to see if I enjoyed the sport – which I instantly did and all the more so for beating him on a hybrid bike while he rode a fancy TT bike! From here I set myself the challenge of taking on the rather formidable Ironman 70.3 at Wimbleball for my 30th and the rest as they say is history.

From a coaching perspective I gained my Level 1 qualification in 2012 and then proceeded to achieve my Level 2 in 2015. As lead coach in the club, I take responsibility for our coaches and ensure we are all working towards delivering professional sessions that suits the needs and requirements of our athletes. A lot of time and effort goes on behind the scenes in preparing our training and I’m proud to be part of a club that has a such a dedicated team of coaches.

Which triathlon discipline / distance do you specialize in?

Although I come from a running background, you’re most likely to find me poolside coaching our swim sessions although like all our coaches I’m completely adaptable and confident in coaching any of the three disciplines. Even though swimming is my weakest discipline for competing in, I find that by coaching it then my understanding has vastly improved and go by the adage that you don’t have to be the best at a particular sport to successfully coach in it.

In terms of my preferred distance then even though I’ve completed everything from sprint to Ironman, I’ve yet to find my specialist one. It entirely depends on my commitment levels and time, particularly for longer events and although there’s a great satisfaction from middle and long distance races, there’s also reward from the fast and furious shorter disciplines. If you could put me on the start line for any event though, with all the training behind me,it would have to be Ironman as there’s something special about lining up with thousands of likeminded individuals as you know it’s going to be a very long day in the office.

Favourite events?

Exe Valley was my first and will always remain a favourite due to its professional approach and being organized by a local club so they know exactly what they’re doing. Every race I’ve done has held special memories and although I’m never at the podium end of the competition, I strive for times and own personal achievements. Challenge Roth remains very special and there is no other experience like riding up the famous Solar Hill as the crowds part in front of you just like in the Tour de France. If you could bottle this moment and sell it then I’d part with good hard cash for it!

Best triathlon experience

Any event which is well organized and professional in its approach makes for a great experience and so despite the cost there’s no denying that Ironman offers a world class experience from start to finish. Crossing the finish line at Ironman Lanzarote was a pure of emotions – relief, excitement, pure exhaustion, hunger – but worth every single second of training to have the medal put round my neck and be called an Ironman. The goose bumps cycling up solar hill at Challenge Roth as thousands cheer you on is like nothing in the triathlon world and has to be experienced to be believed. Any time you cross the finish line having given it your all is always a special experience and a feeling you can’t describe as it’s been you against the clock and any achievement is down to yourself rather than a team so you can take all the credit and praise.

Outside of triathlon then at an ultra running event I was honored to join multiple world champion Chrissie Wellington for a few miles and had a very down to earth chat from such a legend of our sport. Her positive attitude is truly infectious and kept me going through some dark hours in the race. How many people can say they’ve run with the Queen of Kona but just many competitions who have gone before I was also soon dropped.

Triathlon in just a few words

Inspiring, motivating and rewarding OR “normal limits do not apply”

What advice would you give to someone new to the sport?

Simply enjoy yourself and take things one step at a time. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of fancy kit but remember why your doing the sport in the first place.

Ask questions, seek out coaches or those with more experience in the sport. Everyone started somewhere and will be happy to share their thoughts. Also decide what you want your triathlon journey to be as it’s all too easy to be swept up in entering events which you may not be ready for. Your coaches can help you with this.

In the words of triathlon legend, Chrissie Wellington, then just keep smiling!

When not coaching, where’s you favourite spot for training (swim, bike and run)?

When it’s warmed up enough to brave our chilly British waters then I’m often down at my local beach, Goodrington, swimming out around the headland or along the beach and on a calm day it’s also nice to put in some distance from Paignton to Preston. There’s not many places where you can swim through a pier but it helps with the sighting. On the bike then it depends on the distance or terrain but Slapton Sands is always a popular spot for some fast action on the flats while there’s no hiding from Dartmoor to build up the hill strength so Haytor is always calling. When it’s time to lace up the running shoes then if it’s a speedy short session then then it’s the tried and tested Paignton to Torquay route but going off road and the coastal path from Goodrington to Broadsands really tests the legs but the views are always worth it.

Anything else you would like to share?

Keep similing and remember you chose to take part as no one is forcing you to do it. Give back to the sport wherever possible – be it event volunteering, helping the club committee or just cheering on your team mates at events. You never know where your triathlon journey will take you as 10 years ago I’d never even considered it, I’ve now completed two long distance races, part of a fantastic club, was awarded local coach of the year in 2015 and even met my fiancé at training. Not bad for just an average age grouper!!

Hamish Renton – BTF Level 2

How long have you been involved in triathlon and coaching?

I participated in my first triathlon in 2004 and been at it ever since. Coaching wise, I have been coaching multi sports for around 8 years and this began with helping coach junior swim sessions in 2010. In 2013 I qualified as a Level 1 British Cycling Coach and in 2017 completed my Level 2 studies to cover MTB, road race, time trial and CX. I qualified as a British Triathlon Level 2 coach in 2017 and later this year I also passed my Level 2 road and time trial CPD. Admittedly I’m a bit of a sports science geek and enjoy staying up to date and reflective about changes in coaching theory, practice and also sports nutrition.

Which triathlon discipline / distance do you specialise in?

I’m happiest in flattish roads time trials, despite being genetically suited to the second row of a rugby scrum! Also enjoy middle distances but it’s a time thing, so you need to be seriously smart about your training.

Favourite events?

Either the 2005 Dorney Lake Olympic Triathlon where I came 18th from 530 competitions which was a real high point of 2007 London Marathon in under 3h 53. I also achieved second in age group at 2016 Plymouth Aquathlon – combination of choppy Barbour swim and almost all other competitions having an off day!

Best triathlon experience?

Ironman 70.3 Wimbleball 2008 – delighted to get round in just over 7:30. Having another crack at it a decade later in 2018 to try and defy the laws of physics (and age!) by beating my previous time set a decade earlier. Same course, 10 years older, same person…in less time.

Triathlon in just a few words?

Put work in, get results OR don’t take it too seriously.

What advice would you give to someone new to the sport?

Start with the answers to above but above all enjoy it and enjoy the social side. Don’t be too quick to get a Garmin and surround yourself in data, PBs, pace and all the rest of it – just enjoy the craic.

When not coaching, where’s you favourite spot for training (swim, bike and run)?

The cliff path to Ansteys cove. I know it so well that I always feel my trainers could run there by themselves if I let them. Or the cinder 400m running track in St Albans – if you got there before 9am the attendant wasn’t on duty and you could use it buckshee. It became a favourite pre-work ritual – maybe a cheeky Yasoo 800 or two with a glimpse of the Cathedral, the hum of the M25 and the sight of hordes of bankers rushing across the park to catch the commuter trains headed for London. Bliss.

Anything else you would like to share?

This is your club so get stuck in. There’s lots of ways you can help with the committee, or in organising events or maybe joining the coaching staff. Don’t sit back – get involved.

Graeme Kay – BTF Level 2

How long have you been involved with triathlon and coaching?

Back in the 1980’s, I always used to cycle to work from the Clennon Vally area to Brixham Police Station, and when D&C Police held their first Triathlon at Exeter in 1990, they asked each station to enter a team. Being the only ‘proper’ cyclist, I was made to take part. This was the first time I had ever raced anybody and I found I was quite good at it. I enjoyed the competition so much that I decided that I would enter as an individual the following year and so my sporting life began. I only did Tri for about 4 years though as my children were still young and fitting in the cycle training took too long, so I concentrated on being a runner.
I did the old Torbay 10K when it started and finished at Paignton Rugby Club, and as I was coming down the finishing straight, the announcer said, ‘And here comes Graeme Kay, and this is still a decent time for a club runner’. I had no idea that this was the case as I thought you had to be ‘good’ to join a club, so spurred on by that one comment, I joined Brixham Running Club. I competed in all the usual distances working up to Marathons. I managed a 3 05 at Manchester then sought advice from a Coach as to how I could break the 3 hour barrier. His advice was to train on the track once a week with his 800m group and get some speedwork done and get out of my comfort zone. After 2 weeks of training on the track, I decided I enjoyed that more and so switched to being a track athlete for 16 years. I won a fair amount of County Championship titles at 200, 400 and 800m, which sounds impressive, but there weren’t that many old blokes stupid enough to hurtle around a track. Still, I had to beat the qualifying standards each time as they didn’t just give the medals away!

I retired from the police in 2011 and decided that I would have more time to train and so took up triathlon again. When my Athletics Coach retired, I was coerced by my training group to go and get qualified as a Coach so that we could stay together, so I did the mandatory Level 1 Run’s Coach Course, so that I was covered by the UKA insurance. I coached the group for a while, but then my wife and I had to spend 3 months in Wales. So, the group went back to train with their clubs – mainly Torbay AC .

I had also wanted to transfer to that club so that I could also join Torbay Tri, which at that time was part and parcel of Torbay AC. I would like to say that I have been a full time triathlete since 2011, (which means I should be better than I am).
I helped out at club sessions at first and was then asked to do my Level 2 Coaching Course, which I completed in December 2017.

What has been the highlight of your triathlon career?

I won a Bronze medal at the English Championships in 2017 and also represented GB as an Age Group athlete at the European Championships in Dusseldorf in 2017. Let’s not mention the result (!) but I did scrape into the top half of the results, but only just.

What’s your favourite triathlon event event?

On a personal level, the most recent event at Thorpe Park, which was a qualifying event for the 2018 European Championships. I cane 2nd in my AG but it was the head to head battle with Frank Reay, my good friend and team mate, that made it special. We constantly overtook each other on the bike, headed into T2 together then had to battle it out on the run course. A ‘proper’ race.

What advice would you give to someone new to the sport?

Prepare to remortgage your house. There’s always something that you ‘need’.

When not coaching, where’s you favourite spot for training (swim, bike and run)?

The ‘Goodrington Mile’ for swimming in summer. The Torbay Velopark for safe and focused cycle training, and Paignton Green for focused running.

Anything else you would like to share?

Never say to your partner, ‘I think I’ve bought everything I need now’, as they may make you sign a statement to that affect.