Answering Questions About Channel Swimming

July 22, 2016

swim the channel swimming questions answers
Did you watch the documentary film on BBC4 this week – “Swim The Channel”? It was a touching, very honest look into a world most people know very little about.

I know a fair bit about this random topic – I swam the English Channel solo in 2004 and again in 2008, and have also been part of a relay team that swam there and back. I also swam around Jersey in 2007.

This blog has a decent amount of posts, pages, and FAQs about Channel swimming. So I’m not surprised to see that lots of people have found their way here this week, from Googling various Channel swim-related search terms.

Here follows the laziest blog post ever a timely and responsive blog post 😉 , using exact search terms people have Googled… and answering them.

“what fat do they use on people swimming the channel”

As far as I know, it’s still Vaseline or similar. That’s what Barrie (the guy you saw “greasing people up” on the BBC4 film) used on me last time his be-gloved hand smeared its way around my armpits. I recall (all too vividly) the one day in training that we all tried something different. It wasn’t good. We emerged from our 6+ hour training swims that day red raw and chafed to smithereens. Back to Vaseline, please!

“cover body on goose fat for swimming”

I’m not sure what the three people who typed this into Google meant. Let’s have a guess….why do/do Channel swimmers cover their entire body with goose fat for swimming?

They don’t. I believe they did, once, many many decades ago. They certainly used lanolin (“sheep grease”). If you have a picture in your mind of a Channel swimmer coated head to toe in a thick white layer, that’s probably where you’ve got the idea of “goose fat” from. It’s kind of a Channel myth which won’t die.

Nobody uses goose fat, goose grease, or indeed lanolin any more. It stinks, it’s heavy, it gets cold and breaks off in chunks, and it covers everything it comes into contact with (including your goggles, and your pilot boat when you get in).

“why do swimmers wear goose fat”

See above. They don’t. Goose fat is for excellent roast potatoes, not for swimmers.

“why do swimmers grease up”

To prevent chafing. Think about it: hours and hours (9 if you’re fast, and lucky, 24+ if you’re not) of swimming in salt water. Your costume will chafe you. Your own skin will chafe you. Chaps, your stubble will scratch your shoulders as you turn your head repeatedly to breathe. Even if you shave before leaving for Dover marina, by the time you finish your swim it may be starting to grow back (if you are uber-manly).

A Channel swimmer might maintain a stroke rate of 60 spm during the swim. The average swim time is probably 15 hours. That’s 50,000+ turns of the arms. 50,000 times the armpit skin will rub against itself. 50,000 times your thighs might rub together. “Grease” (Vaseline) goes some way to easing the chafing.

It’s not to keep warm.

“channel swimmers why grease duck fat”

See above. No. This myth is strong in this one!

“why 6 hour swim Channel swim”

I think the four people who Googled this are referring to the 6-hour qualifying swim which was mentioned in the BBC4 film. To be eligible to swim the Channel, you need to do various things (including a medical) – one of which is complete a 6-hour swim in water of relevant temperature. This is part of the paperwork. If you haven’t done your qualifying training swim, you won’t be able to start your swim.

Ideally, that’s the very least you’d do. Be realistic – your Channel swim is likely to take 12+ hours. If you’ve only ever done one 6-hour swim, you have no idea how your body and mind cope from 6:01 until…whenever you finish. I swam in late July, and I did 7 hours (Saturday) and 6 hours (Sunday) several times. If your swim is later in the season, you should be doing 7+7 or 7+6 as often as possible. It sucks, but not as much as aborting your swim at 7 hours because you haven’t prepared properly.

Think of your 6-hour qualifying swim as a milestone in training, not the end goal.

“swim channel in dark why”

Channel swims set off according to tide times. So – unless you’re very fast, or swimming on the longest day of the year – you will probably swim through darkness for some portion of your swim. Both mine started at around 2am (just a coincidence). So I started in pitch dark, and swam through the dawn. It was beautiful, one of my most cherished memories, and something I can’t really put into words. Other swimmers might “land” (finish) their swims in the dark. Just one of those things!

“why do cross channel swimmers not wear wetsuits”

They can do. You are allowed to swim the Channel in a wetsuit. But it won’t “count” as an official Channel swim, and you will not be listed in the record books or the lists of successful Channel swimmers. Why? It’s just the way it is. The rules of real Channel swims state you can wear a swim suit, hat, goggles, ear plugs, and a lightstick for night swimming. That’s it. It’s a bit like asking “why can marathon runners not use roller skates?” They could. They’d still cover the 26.2 miles. But they wouldn’t be in the list of people who ran it.

There are various challenges that involve swimming across the English Channel, wearing a wetsuit. Arch to Arc is one such challenge. Clearly if you do that, you would have “swum the Channel” as part of “completing the Arch to Arc”. But you wouldn’t be able to say you were a “proper” Channel swimmer.

I hope that doesn’t sound elitist. It’s just the rules of a very old (and purist) sport.

Hope that was useful or at least interesting! Do you have any questions about Channel swimming?

I have another Channel swimming blog post planned after watching the BBC4 Swim The Channel film this week. I’ll get to it!

Answering Questions About Channel Swimming is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


“Oceans Seven” Adam Walker on ocean swimming technique

January 11, 2016

Those of you who’ve known me (or the blog) for long enough will know about my other life.

Back in the day, I used to be a swimmer. Specifically, a Channel swimmer. I’ve swum the Channel twice and done other long open-water solo swims. (You can read more about all that here).

But Adam Walker‘s sea swimming accomplishments are something else. Adam was the first British person to complete “Oceans Seven”, thought to be the toughest seven sea swims in the world:

– English Channel 2008 (finished 11 hours 35 mins)
– Two-way Gibraltar Straits 2010 (finished 9 hours 39 mins – he broke the British Record one way and was the first Brit to swim back)
– Molokai Straits in Hawaii 2012 (17 hours 2 mins)
– Catalina Channel in USA 2012 (12 hours 15 mins)
– Tsugaru Channel in Japan 2013 (15 hours 31 mins) (the first British person to complete this swim)
– Cook Straits in New Zealand 2014 (8 hours 36 mins)
– North Channel Ireland to Scotland 2014 (10 hours 45 mins)
AdamW-0265-2t_sm
So when Adam asked if he could grab a guest-blog spot on TFW, I had no hesitation. If I still have any open-water swimming readers, Adam’s story and stroke technique advice will be golden for you. And for the rest of you? Be inspired by his story, and consider reading his book “Man Vs Ocean” by Adam Walker (published by John Blake Publishing and available at Amazon here – Man Vs Ocean, Adam Walker, Amazon).
Man V Ocean Book Jacket

Over to Adam for some serious technique talk.

On 6 Aug 2014 I became the first British person to swim the hardest seven ocean swims in the world, known as the Oceans Seven.

My swim stroke was the conventional style of a high head and winding my arms, entering long and flat.

I trained with this style for 18 months, resulting in a ruptured bicep tendon whilst swimming the English Channel. Having completed the swim I had to have two operations. The surgeon told me that the bicep tendon had attached itself to the supraspinatus, and they were unable to separate them. He advised me to give up swimming as the arm rotations would irritate it and cause more injury. He said “If you do another long swim you will have serious long term problems!”

Giving up was not an option for me. I love the sport so much. So I began studying the front crawl stroke and how to take pressure off the shoulder, limiting irritation, and becoming more efficient.

At this stage I wasn’t concerned with speed, I just wanted to find a way to prolong my swimming career. Here’s what I learned.

Head position

After many months of practice and video analysis I established that having a still head looking downwards is critical in the stroke: if it’s not still, you could zigzag.

If you immerse your head then your legs will come up if you are on your side. It’s better to work with the water than lift your head up (which takes energy), not beneficial when the head is the heaviest part of the body.

Core movement

I thought about other sports such as golf, cricket, bowling, tennis and cross country skiing – they all use core stomach muscles to instigate the initial phase. Therefore it didn’t make sense for me not to use rotation as part of the swim stroke.

Rotating using the core only, allowing the hips to push the arms forward instead of throwing them overhead had a number of big benefits:

– Using fewer muscles
– Less impact when entering the water
– Reduced pressure on the shoulders
– Stronger propulsion in the stroke
– More length out of the stroke

If I drive the arm/hand into the water, I am using my chest as well to do this, using more muscles than necessary. Using the core helped keep my hand and arms as wide as my hips. If your chest dominates, more often than not they will drive into the centre line, particularly when you breathe.

You will then have to push them out again in order to pull back which takes time and is an added unnecessary movement. By driving them into the centre you have the potential to pinch tendons and cause friction which will eventually tether and cause significant damage (something unfortunately I know a lot about!)

Early arm entry

I was taught to enter my hand into the water as far out in front as possible to gain a good pull. However, if your hand enters the water early with a bent elbow and then extends under water this creates less resistance and will take pressure off your shoulders.

If you think about diving off a block in a race, they only allow you to go 15 metres under water. Why? Because you are faster under water than you are on top of the water. Therefore the sooner you get your hand and arm into the water the better.

Recovery arm

I discovered that by holding the front recovery arm in place until the stroking arm is just about to enter the water, I gained constant momentum. This aids with stability, which is necessary if you get knocked by a competitor or if a wave is about to hit you. This happened to me in the English Channel with my old stroke and I was flipped onto my back.

Pulling

Pulling to your hip only is your ‘power section’ – beyond that it turns into a tricep movement with your power significantly reduced and delaying the time needed to get your hand back in for the catch.

Leg kick

My leg kick is just enough to keep me afloat, nothing too vigorous. 70% of energy is used up in your legs and you don’t get that benefit back. The kick is a sideways kick as you are swimming hip to hip (never flat).

By carrying out a simple two-beat kick I’m not wasting excess energy and am limiting the calories burnt. This is also important in colder temperatures.

My suggestion is to swim the majority of a triathlon with a two-beat kick, then kick a little more in the final 50m or so to get blood flow into the legs in readiness for transition. The limited leg kick will serve you in good stead when you get onto the bike as they have had limited use. On my 17 hour Hawaii swim, when I climbed out of the water, my legs were so fresh they didn’t feel as if they had be used.

How my new stroke technique has saved my career

This stroke, which my clients are calling ‘The Ocean Walker’ technique, has not only saved my swimming career but meant I was the fastest man on a 21-mile two-way swim in Windermere, and completed all seven channels including fastest British crossing of Gibraltar Straits one-way, and became the first British person to do a two-way crossing.

I’ve had three operations in total on my left shoulder, I can’t sleep on that side and I can’t hold over 10 kilos of weight with a straight arm, yet with the ‘Ocean Walker’ stroke I can swim 17 hours and am 1:15 mins faster over 1,500 metres and 5secs faster per 100 metres.

And my stroke rate has gone down from an average of 72 SPM to 52 SPM, showing that holding form in the stroke is generating more speed. I am saving 1200 strokes per hour! I am not pulling any harder than I did previously, actually if anything I am pulling with less power, showing the importance of body position and efficiency.

What I have realised is the key to swimming efficiently is to make the water work with you. By being relaxed, getting body position right and reducing resistance you will go faster.

The best athletes in the world are normally the ones who make it look effortless, use timing to their advantage and are efficient in what they do. Just look at Roger Federer or Usain Bolt!.

(It’s me, Nic, back again…. 😉 )

Thank you Adam, what an incredible amount of information. For more information on the ‘Ocean Walker’ stroke and Adam’s swim camps and 1-1 coaching, go to Ocean Walker.

Want to read more about Adam’s amazing swims? He’s on a “blog tour” and here’s where you’ll find him:
Man vs Ocean blog tour banner

“Oceans Seven” Adam Walker on ocean swimming technique is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway)

June 27, 2012

I don’t just train. I do a bit of work, too 😉 I work as a freelance writer, doing both editorial work (features in consumer magazines, mostly, but some trade/industry publications, too) and commercial work as a copywriter (content for B2B clients, B2C clients and agencies).

I don’t often blog about work (I probably should do so more often), in fact there are only a handful of work-related posts on this blog:

Where you could have found my byline back in May 2010
How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers
How I became a freelance writer (and other FAQs)
More bylines
My favourite commissions (at that point!)
A few fitness copywriting examples
– And a few more here.
The importance of quality content for fitness professionals

You can also check out some of my clients on my Pinterest board “my lovely clients” (cos they are all lovely – one of the benefits of being freelance is that you don’t have to work with the non-lovely ones).

On the whole, I am excited by everything I write. Every new commission still gives me a thrill, even after eight years. However, this one’s a bit special and I’d really like to shout about it. Indulge me, please. I promise we’ll be back to photos of my weightlifting belt and reviews of protein powders soon 😉

In March, I was contacted by someone who purported to be a commissioning Editor at The Washington Post. Yeah right, I thought. Ha ha! But… it’s not quite 1st April. So maybe this isn’t an April Fool. Sure enough, it was real. The Washington Post had been looking for a book reviewer for the book “Swim: Why We Love The Water” and had found me. (For those of you who have only known me, or this blog, since I took up bodybuilding, you need to know that I come from a swimming background and have swum the English Channel twice). The Editor had read a few of my articles, blog posts and online features about swimming and decided to approach me.

I was very excited. I mean, come on. The Washington Post?

The review came out and is still online here.

Would you like to win a copy of Lynn Sherr’s book, “Swim: Why We Love The Water”? Because you can. I have a spare copy here (not the review copy with my bits of paper stuck all over it).

To win, please:
1) “Like” “Swim: Why We Love The Water” Facebook page
2) Tweet a link to this blog post, including my Twitter name (@thefitwriter) and Lynn’s (@LynnSherr) and include the hashtag #SWIM in your Tweet
3) Come and leave a comment on this blog post to let me know you’ve done those two things… and then tell me your most memorable swimming experience. I’d love to hear about it, no matter where or when it was. Pool, sea, lake or lido… tell me 🙂

Byline in The Washington Post (and “Swim: Why We Love The Water” giveaway) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Story of a GB age-group triathlete: Ellie Barnes Q&A

April 17, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to represent your country at your chosen sport? Or even at one you can’t do, but dream of being good at? Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones who get to pull on a GB vest. What does it take to compete at international level as an age-grouper? I asked my friend Ellie Barnes, a Personal Trainer, to tell us her story – just before she sets of to compete at the European Triathlon Championships this Saturday.

thefitwriter: Ellie, massive congrats on making the GB team for the Europeans. So exciting! Can you give readers some background on your own sporting journey and history?

Ellie Barnes: Sport has always been high on my agenda (not surprising with a mother as a PE Teacher and a father who cycled from London to Paris for fun!) I was a keen netballer but it wasn’t until I moved to Reading in 2006 that I started to get into competitive running. My first race was the Shinfield 10km. My partner at the time put money on me not completing it in under 60 minutes (tfw: Ha ha, I have a similar story behind my first running race!) Much to his wallet’s dismay, I finished in 43 minutes!

I then did the London Marathon in 2007, training with Reading Roadrunners and finishing in 3hrs 38minutes. Marathons became my mainstay for a few years with my PB a few years later in Amsterdam: 3hrs 07minutes. Whilst training for the London Marathon 2010 I got a stress fracture in my metatarsal, which taught my body a lesson about cross training and I mixed my running up with some cycling and swimming.

I was introduced to a competent triathlete and triathlon coach in 2010 (Jo Lewis of Tri50), who has nurtured me to become the GB Age-Group triathlete I am now!

tfw: For how long have you been doing triathlon?

EB: My very first triathlon was whilst marathon training was very much still my main focus so I really didn’t know what I was doing. So much so, that when I was in transition from swim to bike, I put my cycle helmet on first and then tried to get my t-shirt on over the top. Top tip: this doesn’t work!

My next encounter with triathlon was in May 2011 at Dorney Lake. I still didn’t really know what I was doing, swimming in open water with a wetsuit was rather an alien experience and trying to keep track of how many laps I had cycled proved a challenge! Much to my amazement, I actually was the first lady to cross this line, I really wasn’t expecting that at all! That success gave me the bug to learn more about triathlon and do more races.

tfw: When did you realise you might be good enough to challenge for a GB place?

EB: Once I competed in the London Triathlon in August 2011, I realised I may have potential to go further. I finished 6th in my age group (25-30) at this event and really wasn’t that far behind the winning women. I actually had the fastest run time of the whole day. I spoke to my coach, Jo, about trying to qualify for the GB Age Group Squad and she suggested we look at last year’s results from the European Championships to see whether we thought it was realistic. We did, and I decided “why not?”

tfw: What was the process like? How did you have to qualify?

EB: There are three events per year which are “qualifying races” for the GB Age Group Squad, and there was only one left in the season, so I had no choice but to enter “Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Triathlon” on 11 September 2011. I had no idea where Newbiggin was before I entered it. Turns out it is 325 miles from Reading, yes, this is commitment! And the swim was in the North Sea in September. What was I thinking??

tfw: How did your training, nutrition, recovery and general preparation change once you knew you were going for qualification?

EB: Once I knew I was going for qualification I read up a lot about triathlon specific training and sought expert advice from Jo. I trained with the David Lloyd Triathlon Club that Jo coached as well as the Tri20 Club in Reading. I also learnt that I needed to work on my swimming to increase my chances of qualification, so this became my main focus for the next six weeks, swimming 4-5 times per week including a 6am session on a Friday morning!

tfw: Tell us about the qualifying race.

EB: Five hours in a car is not my idea of fun, however my Mum, Dad, brother and partner all came along for the ride. Arriving in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea was like walking back in time: a quintessentially British seaside town, with the traditional fish and chips shops and beach huts.. and what felt like Force 10 gale winds. Just walking through the car-park to registration was a challenge as the wind was howling. The sea was choppy with seven lifeboats on the course, the bike was a two-lap course with some great headwind sections as well as tailwinds downhill, so not all bad. Then the run, where I usually feel strongest, but not today. It was along the sea wall and back and I couldn’t feel my feet by this point. I actually had one of the quickest run times of the day, though.

When I crossed the line I didn’t know where I had finished in my age-group. I knew I had to finish in the top four and, by the time I went to get my results print-out it was confirmed, I had finished 3rd in my age group, and therefore I had qualified! Woohoo!

tfw: What then – how long between qualifier and GB event, and how did things change for you?

EB: Since that race, the date 21 April 2012 has been engraved on my brain! The remainder of 2011 was spent maintaining base level fitness and primarily working on swim technique. On 1 January 2012 it was time to start SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timed) training – I could not have done this without the amazing guidance and support from coach Jo Lewis: our weekly meeting to review my progress from the previous week and look at the next few weeks training has been invaluable. I also sought expert nutrition advice from Janie Perry of Relax to Revive, Strength and Conditioning advice from Aynsley Fry of Gecko Fitness and regular Sports Massage from Diksha of FixMe.

Training became more intense with two sessions most days, six days a week. A lighter week was welcomed every five weeks. A very intense week training in Lanzarote was thrown in the mix as well as various races to test my fitness including the Green Park Triathlon (1st Lady), Oulton Park Duathlon (1st Lady) and monthly parkrun 5km run timetrials.

tfw: How does it feel to be racing with a GB vest? Is it a dream come true? Does it live up to expectations? Is it different to imagined?

EB: When I received my GB trisuit with BARNES, GBR emblazoned across it it seemed a little surreal. Is this really for me? Then when I put it on for the first time I was a little stunned… yes this is me, I have worked hard for this but need to keep focused on 21 April 2012 when the training will be really put to the test.

tfw: What’s next for you and how can readers look out for you/support you?

EB: Saturday 21 April 2012, 7am in Eilat, Israel, the ETU Triathlon European Championships (2hrs ahead of GMT). I will be updating my Facebook and Twitter, but you should also be able to find results here (select 25 – 29 Female AG Sprint).

tfw: Finally, what advice do you have for any amateur triathletes wanting to one day qualify for GB kit?

EB: Do it! Don’t think about it, get yourself entered and believe in yourself….look here for more info.

Best of luck, Ellie! Perhaps you’ll come back and tell us about the race?

Story of a GB age-group triathlete: Ellie Barnes Q&A is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Guest post over on Girl on the River

March 23, 2012

Hi all, happy Friday: we made it! *wipes brow*

This is very quick post to let you know that I have an interview/guest post over on Girl On The River’s blog: go and take a look. As a bonus, you get to see a bee-yoo-tiful picture of my “muscley fat” Channel swimmer’s back (with a pretty sensational swimming tan!)

GOTR has been doing a fascinating blog series about whether it’s possible to get leaner and stronger at the same time. She’s a journo, like me, so her posts are full of interviews and great Q&As with really interesting people (I don’t mean me! I mean people like Paul Mattick, double World Rowing Champion!)

I hope you like her blog – have a look around – she’s a rower and tackles some interesting issues, tells some funny stories and gives a good glimpse into the crazy world of rowing.

You can follow Girl On The River on Twitter here and Facebook here.

Thanks for the opportunity, GOTR!

Guest post over on Girl on the River is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Channel swimming vs bodybuilding

January 17, 2012

As some of you know, my previous incarnation was as an English Channel swimmer. I’ve swum it twice. In fact, when I started this blog, I wrote a lot about Channel swimming (hence the Channel swimming tab and Channel swimming FAQs, both of which I urge you to read if you’re at all interested in the pursuit).

Sometimes, when I’m pondering my general awesomeness, I wonder if I’m the only person to have swum the Channel and competed as a natural bodybuilder (perhaps one day I’ll do the research). From the outside looking in, they seem poles apart. But when I think about the two sports from the point of view of the athlete, I realise they’re really not that dissimilar. “But you’d never catch me fannying about on stage in a pair of budgie-smugglers,” the Channel swimmers amongst you cry. “And you wouldn’t catch me getting in that dirty cold water,” the bodybuilders agree.

They’re not so different. To prove it, I’ve conjured up this handy chart (click for a larger version, if my formatting incapabilities render it impossible to see…)

Channel swim vs bodybuilding

Which would you rather do? Jump in the sea in your swimmers all by yourself? Or jump on stage in your swimmers in front of an audience?

Edited to add: it has been pointed out to me that the “you are up at 3am because…” answers are the wrong way round. But you spotted that already, right? *oops*!

Channel swimming vs bodybuilding is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Story of a first-time triathlete: Auntie Rose’s race report

August 31, 2011

Remember my Auntie Rose’s foray into triathlon (and her training update post?) She did it! And I’m very proud of her. Here’s her recap of her first triathlon – the Dextro Energy London Triathlon earlier this month:

Race day dawned (it couldn’t come soon enough!) At last, all the training was to be put to the test. Hyde Park was ready for us… and us for it! Since this race was being used as a try-out for the London 2012 Olympic triathlon, we were surrounded by all levels of athleticism, and a massive crowd, too. It was quite daunting really, but what a buzz! I felt so honoured to be part of it all.

As we were not due to start until 16.30, we had a nerve-wracking couple of hours marvelling at the super-fit youngsters and going over the race in our heads. We were all very calm, given the size of the event. Bikes racked, cycling and running gear laid out, we were all ready.

As the water temperature was 21*C, the option of wetsuits was ours. I opted to keep mine on, concerned that today was not the day to try without (all our training had been done in wetsuits). I was glad I did as the Serpentine was cold and pretty murky.

The swim was a pontoon start and turned out not to be the washing-machine I’d anticipated. I made the dubious choice to try and support my two friends, neither of whom were confident in the water. That turned out to be a mistake, and I eventually had to leave them to support one another. I swam the second 400m way faster than the first, but felt really mixed emotions as I glanced back to see Sue and Nikki’s furrowed brows as they got further and further behind.

T1 was immensely long and by the time I reached my bike I felt like I had already run the 5k. In fact it took me a whopping 7 minutes from swim to bike, way longer than I wanted it to be.

The cycle was exhilarating and I actually found myself passing quite a few people. My trusty little Giant did me proud and was a joy to ride.

Three loops later I was back at T2 for my very least favourite part: the run. As it turned out, the training we had put in paid off as I didn’t feel as leaden-limbed as I anticipated starting the run.

It was very heartening to be cheered on by friends and family, and the supporters of my four fellow “triathloonies”, too. It seemed that no more that five minutes would pass before someone would spur me on by name.

All too soon I was approaching the blue finishing strip, but not before I was passed by several of next year’s Olympic hopefuls vying for selection for the Aquathon event. They were gazelles as they breezed passed me as I lumbered along for my final kilometre. I admit to having a chuckle at my own expense as I compared my performance to theirs. But the overriding thought I had was pride in myself at having actually finished.

My finish time? I managed 2 hours exactly, and know that when I do my next Sprint Triathlon, I will definitely be faster. I know I can do the swim faster, I’m sure I can negotiate T1 way faster, I think I can knock at least five minutes off the cycle, and shave 3 minutes or so off the swim. So my next target is sub 2 hours, and I can’t wait to do it all again!

Mid life crisis? Maybe. But if being fit and cheerful means pushing yourself to succeed, does age matter?

Story of a first-time triathlete: Auntie Rose tells all is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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