Having taken part in the team triathlon with my friends and colleagues from Hiscox, my appetite had been whetted to take on a solo. I was routinely endurance spinning as well as cycling, swimming most weeks, and ran 5K once or twice a week.
My first triathlonI signed up for a SuperSprint at Eton Dorney rowing lake, and set about upping my training, time-trialling from Compton to Peasmarsh as the thing closest to the event itself. I arranged to borrow a wet-suit from one of my spin instructors, not wanting to buy one in case I didn’t take to triathlon. In the days running up to the event, anxiety about the swim started to set in. I’d never open water swum in an event, and had never worn a wetsuit. I started to back out, looking for excuses not to take part. A couple of weeks before the event, I wimped out, cancelling spinning so I couldn’t collect the wetsuit. I felt awful. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a coward. On the Monday before the race, I grew a pair, and arranged to collect the wetsuit, and while my stress levels went up, my sense of pride went up much further.
On the Friday before the race, I put the wetsuit on. To describe it as snug would be an under-statement. It was like a second skin… Or even a first skin… Saturday arrived, and I found myself at Eton Dorney rowing lake – completely decked out and ready for the 2012 London Olympics, which were only a few weeks away. I sorted myself out in transition, and after a 90 minute wait, most of which was spent in the portaloos, went to the marshalling area for the swim.
Reflection I made so many mistakes it was almost comical. The experience lived with me for a long time, and at some level the swim experience still does. I should have had a lesson in open water swimming before taking to open water. That way I’d have been more confident, particularly on the point that you basically can’t drown in a wetsuit. I’d also have bought prescription swimming goggles, allowing me to see where I was going. BUT. I started it. I finished it. I wasn’t last. And this has formed part of my triathlon mantra – I finish what I start. It was a good couple of years before I donned a wetsuit for open water swimming again. My advice would be: