Life Stuff with Donna Waltmann

By | Life Stuff, Meet the Athlete, Swimming | 3 Comments

Lately, I have been wanting to write/post about people in a different way than my usual Q&A “Meet the Athlete” format. I’ve been stirred by the stories of others, some of whom are very close to me personally, and others who have absolutely no idea who I am. I want to share some of their stories with you in hopes that you will take some encouragement or lessons from them. I believe that regardless of what our own “life stuff” is, we can grow in empathy by getting a sneak peek into others’ lives, and perhaps learn something valuable for ourselves in the process. I am so proud to share the story of a woman I met at the Ventura Aquatic Center nearly four years ago. I have the pleasure of seeing her everyday when I walk onto the pool deck at 5:50 a.m. (she is in the water at 5:30!). She has an aura of joy that those around her can’t help but notice. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Donna!


Life Stuff 1st ed.

Donna Waltmann


    Someone once gave me some very wise advice.  She said, “You didn’t gain weight overnight so you won’t lose it overnight either”.  My name is Donna and I have been overweight most of my adult life. I have tried almost every quick fix diet on the market.  I have tried “no fat”, “no carb”, and protein shakes. I even allowed myself to be hypnotized once!

    Nothing worked in the long run.  I would lose weight only to gain it back plus some extra.  In my research for the “magic cure” I soon realized there isn’t one.  Weight loss requires hard work and discipline if you want long term results.  

   I knew that exercise, along with dietary changes, were going to be what was necessary to achieve long term results.  In September 2014 I found BuenaVentura Swim Club and Ventura County Masters. I had been swimming by myself at a gym for a few months, but I was bored and not as consistent as I wanted to be.  A coworker was talking to me about how she was on a soccer team and I thought, “I want to be on a team!”.

   Swimming with people that are so accomplished in the sport has been very motivating.  To have someone that has achieved so much take an interest in my progress means so much.   I have also greatly benefited from coaches who have helped me set goals for myself in regards to swimming times.  I never played sports as a child and did not come to swimming with that mindset. Having people help me set goals turned swimming into a fun activity and not just an exercise program that can begin to feel like a chore.  It also doesn’t hurt that if I skip practice people notice and ask where I was.

   In the past 3 ½ years I have lost 126 pounds.  When people ask me how I did it I tell them swimming 6 mornings a week, but there is more to it than that.  Surrounding myself with people who are motivated to be healthy and active has translated into a desire for me to be healthy and active.  When my coaches and teammates started believing I could get faster in the pool I started believing it too. This translated into a belief that I could lose weight and become healthier.

   I have a ways to go to reach my goal weight, but I am confident that I will.  That person who ate whatever they wanted and never exercised isn’t me anymore.  With God’s help and my swim team I know I can achieve my goal.


Freestyle Swim Tips

By | Coaching, Fitness, Swimming | No Comments

To all those resolving to start off 2015 with renewed focus on technique, I wanted to share some freestyle swim tips that have helped me in my training and coaching.

I like to think through each arm stroke beginning with the finish, then recovery, entry, catch, and push*:

1. As the hips rotate, finish the stroke, pushing water back past the hip.

2. Use momentum from the finish to “swing” the arm forward (relaxed forearm) in recovery.  The armpit should clear the water’s surface during recovery. Avoid trying to control the arm.

3. During the hand entry, the shoulder should be internally rotated, so that the elbow is higher than the hand. This sets up a good high-elbow catch.

4. The fingertips drop and point to bottom of pool, with the wrist remaining straight (to prevent elbow dropping!).  The elbow stays forward and high during the catch.  The latissimus dorsi (aka. “lats”) should be engaged here!

5. Push* the water back (behind you) using your forearm (fingertips to elbow) as a paddle.  Don’t forget to use those lats!  They are large muscles for a reason.

*I like to use the word “push” vs. “pull” to emphasize a high elbow position and make a point of pushing water back.  The word pull makes me think of a “pull-up” movement, which is not an appropriate analogy for the freestyle stroke.

Thinking through the stroke backwards helps me to see how each movement builds on the previous movement. For example, without a strong push back and finish, the recovery can become flat and lazy, leading to poor hand entry and catch positions. Without a quality catch position (internally rotated shoulder, high elbow, straight wrist), the push is less effective. Besides the efficacy cost, a poor catch position (dropped elbow) may lead to shoulder injury over time.

A proposed drill set to include in your training sessions:

3 rounds of the following progression (round 1: right arm focus, round 2: left arm focus, round 3: both arms focus)

2 lengths with focus on strong finish
2 lengths with focus on recovery with exposed armpit
2 lengths with focus on internal shoulder rotation and entry with hand below elbow level
2 lengths with focus on straight wrist and high elbow catch (engage lats!)
2 lengths with focus on pushing water back (use lats!)

Swim Smart!

The (Very) Official BrittFit Gift Guide

By | Fitness, Swimming, Triathlon | 2 Comments

Titles like “Athlete Holiday Gift Guide” have adorned many a blog post, magazine article, tweet, and hash-tag in athletic social media circles lately.  After navigating page after page of supposed holiday must-haves for athletes, I decided to formulate my very own list, based on what myself and fellow endurance athletes actually do want for Christmas this year–no marketing schemes attached!  Here is the Official 2014 BrittFit Gift Guide of endurance athlete  “essential” and most-desired items:

The (Very) Official BrittFit Gift Guide- What your fit friends (probably) want for Christmas

1. Big Ticket Items (*important to select proper fit, size, style, cut, color, function, etc. as these items are very athlete-specific)

  • New bike**
  • Bike components: saddle* (aerobars*, pedals*, water bottle cage)
  • Bike accessories:  helmet*, bike shoes*, stationary trainer*, power meter*, bike shorts*, jersey*, cycling vest*
  • Swim gear: wetsuit*, swimsuit*, snorkel
  • Run gear: run shoes*, run shorts*, run shirt*
  • Triathlon gear: transition bag
  • GPS watch* with or without compatible heart rate monitor
  • Multisport Services: coaching gift certificates, massage gift certificates, yoga pass, swim class pass, run club membership
  • Excursions: race entry fee, travel/hotel moneys
  • Recovery/Core tools: foam roller, yoga mat, swiss ball

2. Stocking Stuffers

  • Bike accessories: fuel/tool bag, socks, arm warmers, gloves, bike light, water bottles (good ones that don’t leak all over your face when sipping)
  • Swim gear: swim cap (silicone or latex, based on athlete’s preference), goggles (make sure they are the athlete’s favorite style and that they fit!)
  • Run gear: hat, headband, hair ties, gloves*, socks*
  • Triathlon gear: race belt, elastic shoelaces
  • Fuel: gels, bars, drink mixes, COFFEE
  • Gift certificates to multisport shops, and/or places that carry yummy coffee, fuel, and treats
  • Books on training, technique, sports nutrition, and FOOD
  • Recovery tools: compression socks/tights*, pedicure/manicure gift certificate, chocolate
  • Hygiene products: chlorine removal shampoo/conditioner, dry shampoo, deodorant, face cleansing wipes, sunscreen, lotion, Body Glide or other anti-chaffing product

Hope this list is a help to all who fear giving uncool gifts to athletic friends and loved ones!

Please refer to my “BrittFit Gift Guide” Pinterest board for more specific gift ideas (i.e. brands/styles).

Meet the Athlete: Teagan

By | Coaching, Fitness, Meet the Athlete, Swimming | No Comments

Welcome to the first edition of “Meet the Athlete”, where you can learn a bit about BrittFit athletes– newbies, recreational athletes, and future Olympians.

Let’s meet Teagan, BrittFit High-Performance Youth athlete since Fall 2013.

age: 12
sport: swimming
favorite post-swim meet treat: In-N-Out strawberry-vanilla milkshake, double-double, & fries
post workout snack: chocolate milk, or bow-tie pasta w/ butter
favorite swim set: relays
favorite drill: floatin’ (aka. buoyancy drill)
fave event: 200-yard individual medley, & 100-yard butterfly
best times: 2:16(ish), & 1:02, respectively
best accomplishment: qualifying for Senior Zones
hobbies: watching movies, playing with Mowgli (miniature schnauzer)
last thing you ate: an apple
dream job: Olympic swimmer & marine biologist

Want to see yourself featured in a future edition of M.T.A.? All BrittFit Athletes are eligible. You could be next!