Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
5x Ironman Champion/ 4x 70.3 Champion

Swimming With Magnolia Masters – Work In Progress – Updated 4/23/14

Magnolia Masters (1)Since the day I qualified for my Elite License at IMTX, was was told I needed to learn how to swim if I am going to be able to compete at the next level.  I basically taught myself how to swim and have always struggled with the small things…like form, swimming straight, not freaking out in a wetsuit, sighting, etc. No big deal, right? Before the end of last year, the race started for me when I finally got my feet on dry land (and sometimes ‘finally’ was an understatement). My swims were really inconsistent and I was awful in open water when I couldn’t rely on my wetsuit or if the water was a little choppy. So, when I started looking for a coach, one of the biggest criteria I had was to find one that could help me figure out the swim.

I found Tim with Magnolia Masters by luck. I had met Michelle with OutRival Racing last year at IMTX and she was the first person I called when I started the process of looking for a coach. I talked with a quite a few different coaches, but Michelle and I just seemed to be a good fit. Once I started talking with her about my struggles in the pool and the open water, she introduced me to Tim with Magnolia Masters who works with a few ORR athletes. I am blessed to have been able to develop a great working relationship with both ORR and Magnolia Masters. I have seen a tremendous amount of improvement in all three disciplines since they started coaching me.

The first thing Tim had me do was send him a video of me swimming. Here is what that looked like:

 There are quite a few flaws in this video. Most of them, even I can pick up on after some guidance from Tim. The main thing I notice when I look back is how low my hips were sitting in the water. With this form, these were my bench marks:

100 yd PR – 1:06
500 yd PR – 6:12

Test Set (7/25/13):
15×100 Pushing off every 1:30 – AVG pace 1:14


Since working with Tim and Magnolia Masters, I have changed my form significantly. I have been working with him for just 7 months and seen a huge reduction in the times that I am posting. Some of the improvements are fitness related and other are form. We are really working with stroke efficiency and trying to develop top end speed as well as a feel for the water to help with the catch and pull. 

  Here are my  PRs as of 3/1/2104.

100 yd PR – 1:00
500 yd PR – 5:44

Test Set (2/21/14):
15×100 Pushing off every 1:30 – AVG pace 1:06







Coach Tim had me take some more video this week. We are going to start working on some stroke tempo training, so he wanted to get some video of my current stroke rate. Since I had the GoPro out anyway, I took some under water views as well. Here is the latest video taken during the final push to IMTX

PRs as of 4/22/14
100 yd- :57
500 yd- 5:39

Test Set
15×100 Pushing off every 1:30 – AVG pace 1:04


Even with the improvements, there are still things I need to fix, which is why the title of this update is “Work in Progress.” I need to look down more, figure out what I am doing with my left hand, and continue to work on getting my hips out of the water.  There are always improvements to be made in swim technique!

Tim will be the first to tell you there is nothing magical about the sets that he creates (although I wonder sometimes…). In fact, he posts most of the workouts he has me do on his website ( ). The real work and improvements come from the daily e-mails, weekly calls, and constant monitoring of my health and overall workload status. He will also be the first to tell you that you can’t just compare one open water swim course to another. HERE is a sample metric file that he made for me to show improvements from my 2011 Kona swim to my 2013 Kona swim. He uses these forms to track all competitive open water swims and show how far back I finished in comparison to the people I am competing against. 

Since starting up with Magnolia Masters, I have learned to become much more efficient with my limited time in the water. One of the Maverick Multisport sponsors is this year TYR. I am going to ensure that the AWESOME Hurricane Cat-5 Wetsuit and the Torque Pro swim skin I get to swim in this year are used as a tool rather than the crutch I have used my wetsuits for in the past! I am much more confident in the water going into the 2014 season than I was for any 2013 race. I am definitely starting the all of my 2014 races in the water rather than splashing around frantically and actually racing when I finally find my bike. I guess the one draw back is that I will have to look for my bike for once instead of just finding the only one left on my rack!

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