A few hours after the official announcement of the collaboration between Ilaria Cusinato and Shane Tusup, presented by the coach himself on his YouTube channel, the Italian IMer talking about some details of this choice and his expectations for the future to the SwimSwam Italia staff.
SwimSwam Italy: When did you make this decision?
Ilaria Cusinato: After the World Championship in Gwangju, when I left Ostia, I imagined to return to Cittadella and prepare for the Olympic season here with my first coach. We worked well despite the limited time available. But then I thought that this is a year when you can’t leave anything behind. There can be no gray areas and I believe that in Shane Tosup I found the coach able to devote himself to the cause 100%.
SwimSwam Italy: Have you made a list of Pros and Cons before taking this decision?
Ilaria Cusinato: Absolutely not. I believe in this project from the first moment we hypothesized it and I threw myself into it instinctively. I strongly believe in the potential that we can express together. I just said “I do it”. I can’t think of wasting this year. In the past few years I have learned a lot and I have no regrets at all but I have always felt that something was missing inside me, that there were some aspects that were a bit careless. Shane takes care of both, water and gym practices, and also nutrition and food supplements, that gives me a lot of confidence.
SwimSwam Italy: What can you tell us about the first training sessions with Shane Tusup?
Ilaria Cusinato: I’m very happy: I cried two days out of two. Shane has a completely different style of training than anything I’d been used to doing before and I have to adapt quickly. We’re starting full speed by doing 6 gym sessions a week plus cardio in the afternoon. Water workouts will be the “classic formula” 4 doubles with the half free day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We only swim in the 50-meter pool even if the first appointment will be the European Short Course Championships. However, we prefer to focus immediately on getting to know the Olympic pool.
Swimswam Italy: Which are the biggest differences between Shane’s way of training and your previous coaches ones?
Ilaria Cusinato: I believe that there is not even one point in common with what I have done so far. Right now we are doing about 3 km for session, but all the meters at full speed. That’s the philosophy. He doesn’t ask me for specific paces or times to respect. “Give everything you have and it will be fine, tomorrow we’ll do something more.” Even in the gym it works like this, we load right away and if I can’t finish a serie I take a little break and then pick up where I left off. These workouts are exhausting but I’m really charged. I set myself certain limits, such as not being late at night and limiting distractions, not because someone forbidden it but because I feel it’s the only way to deal with these workloads.
SwimSwam Italy: Is the program of each individual training shared with you and your partner before Shane’s session?
Ilaria Cusinato: No, I’m totally unaware of what awaits me during the session but I know the general project. Shane has the perfect knowledge of the times I have to swim to make a big step ahead at the international level and he has studied a precise table of trainings, races and movements. With him I have the feeling that nothing is left to chance.
SwimSwam Italia: Are there many competitions planned?
Ilaria Cusinato: I will participate in several circuits: ISL, FINA World Cup and also the US PRO SWIM SERIES. I will compete mainly in the 200 and 400 IM but we are training the 200 meters of all strokes. We will travel a lot but it doesn’t scare me at all. I suffered a lot the opposite problem, I found myself often suffocated by being always in the same place, traveling will be the most fun part of the project.
SwimSwam Italia: What are the technical aspects you will focus on the most?
Ilaria Cusinato: We focus a lot on technique, I have many things to correct in particular in freestyle swimming. He anticipated that we will also take care of fundamental aspects such as turning and starting. About the race strategy, I’m ready to play it exactly as Shane will ask me to do it. It doesn’t scare me to change my characteristics, neither the idea of starting strong nor the attempt to make a comeback. I’m sure my coach knows all the strongest opponents well and will find the key to try to attack them. I believe that in this moment the best one is Katinka, behind her I think there’s plenty of space to increase the medium level.
SwimSwam Italy: Will be difficult for Shane the comeback on the pool deck?
Ilaria Cusinato: I don’t think so. He’s very calm about it, I know that he is not talking with Katinka, but he has no problem at all. I obviously don’t know what she thinks. I haven’t had many opportunities to talk to her except during the Glasgow races but these are personal topics.
SwimSwam Italy: So now you have returned to living with your family?
Ilaria Cusinato: Actually no. I live with the rest of the team. For now we have rented a house in Camposampiero (Padova). It’s me, Shane and his girlfriend, Zsombor Bujdoso and a cameraman. In this way we facilitate the realization of the “Olympic Dark Horse” project. We are awaiting news for the future. We made this decision at the end of the season and there was not so much time for planning on availability and water spaces, this bureaucratic part requires a little patience. Then from January we will move to America in Los Angeles.
SwimSwam Italy: What is the “Olympic Dark Horse” project?
Ilaria Cusinato: It’s Shane’s idea. He called some of his friends from the entertainment world and decided to document our training and much more. All the way from now to (I hope) until the Olympics. Two episodes per week will be released on his personal YouTube channel and then, hoping on having enough interesting material, he would like to make a real movie.
SwimSwam Italia: Is communication between you and Shane good?
Ilaria Cusinato: Excellent. Both in terms of language and in terms of how we interact. Shane is exuberant, but so am I. We speak in English between us, learning new languages has always been one of my passions and as soon as we have outlined the organization of the coming months I will try to resume my studies, Shane is the first who wants the athletes to have interests outside the pool. I really like his attitude and his determination, we get along very well even though I’ve already raised my voice with him a couple of times. He’s very good at motivating me constantly, I’ve never had anyone stimulating me like this. It keeps me focused. And then luckily we don’t talk about swimming outside the water.
SwimSwam Italy: Your entourage supports this decision?
Ilaria Cusinato: Yes, starting from my family that immediately showed me its love and supports me in all my decisions. Last night we had dinner together at my mom’s house so they got to know the rest of the group. Even my boyfriend is happy with my decision, he sees me convinced and serene. He knows that it will be a tough year because we will see each other way less than usual but he fully understands the reasons. Even the “Polizia”, my military team, has given me full support and with a proper compliance of the procedures the adventure overseas will not be a problem.