Friday Feature – Claude Pilette

OAC Team Triumpher

When I started with Team Triumph I had been an avid runner for more than 10 years and on & off cycling and backpacking all my life.

While being a member at the OAC, my wife Ann pointed out that Team Triumph had a great spin class on Wednesdays – great music, great spirit and she also mentioned that the instructor was a triathlon coach that knew her stuff. I did a few drop in spin classes and realized that the coaching style was a good fit for me. During a spin class, the instructor mentioned that her passion was teaching swimming, so I decided to approach her about swimming lessons. She mentioned that she was following the Total Immersion (TI) approach. After a bit of reading on the TI, I joined the Fall swimming group in 2016 and started to learn a new sport.

My goal was to learn swimming and to swim the Ironman practice swim lane (3.8 km) at Mont Tremblant. Having a secondary home at Tremblant, I have encouraged Ironman athletes for years during the events. I thought that one day, I would be able to do open-water swimming.

This goal was important me because learning a new sport would give me more options and choices when I get up in the morning and look outside – what am I going to do today for exercise? Not knowing where to start was holding me back, but Coach Julia made me realize that it is all about one step at a time. I was excited about learning a new sport under professional guidance, but also a little nervous at first, not knowing where I would fit in the group. I did have some challenges when I started. A slow and steady pace of training allowed me to overcome them as they arose and asking the coaches about stroke correction on a weekly basis for a while helped a great deal…. I just loved the challenge.

What I like best about Team Triumph is the relaxed environment. The ability to go at your own pace, but with gentle encouragement from the Coaches to push a little harder.

It took me about 2 years, but I reached my goal. I was able to swim the 3.8km distance this year that I had encouraged the Ironman athletes to do each year at the race.
What I am most proud of though is coming from a running background and having learned to swim, so that I could participate in my first triathlon. But first, I had to buy a road bike! With the help of Coach Julia, I bought my first road bike in the Fall 2017 and completed my first triathlon in Perth of this year followed by the Olympic triathlon in Mont Tremblant in June 2018! Came in 6th in my AG! Not bad for a 56 year-old guy! Turned out I came in 2nd (AG) for the shortest transition time, thanks to Coach Julia who instructed me in the Spring on how to set up the transition zone and practice the in/out routine.