Living in Noosa, home of the world’s largest Triathlon Festival, and as someone who loves keeping fit, I was really taken by the idea of entering the annual Noosa Triathlon. When I decided to enter I had been a keen runner for years and was teaching several high intensity Spin Classes a week, but I couldn’t swim.
I’d been promising myself for years that I would learn to swim properly. I mean, I could do a very slow British style breaststroke/doggy paddle. You know, the kind where you don’t get your face or hair wet? But moving from England to Australia and seeing how people really swim, I realised I had a long way to go! I’d tried one-on-one swimming lessons in the UK but had no success. I realised I needed a real incentive to force me to reach my goal of being able to swim freestyle. So, I entered an Olympic distance Triathlon with no prior Triathlon experience and a strongly instilled fear of open water. I had 10 months to learn to swim and train for a 1500m swim, 40km ride and 10km run. Game on!
I tried a well respected local Aquatic Centre’s swimming classes but again, I made no progress. I couldn’t get the stroke right and most definitely couldn’t get the breathing right. I sank, coughed and choked my way miserably through the classes. A friend encouraged me to try a small swimming group she went to. I was apprehensive but decided to give it a try. I still can’t believe it, but it was at my very first session with this small group that I swam (slowly, poorly and with fins) my first 25m freestyle! Heather Klieve (fromthepoolsedge.com.au) was our coach and she instilled in me the confidence to just keep going when I stuffed up the breathing or the stroke and to make it to the end of the pool instead of giving up. I was so relieved as we were just 6 months out from the Noosa Tri! I stepped up my training with Heather and was in the pool several times a week after that.
Less than a month after my first 25m swim I decided to enter an Ocean Swim Event in Noosa. It was a 500m Ocean Swim as part of a wider swim festival held every year. I had never in my life swum in the ocean before and wanted my first time to be an event where there would be plenty of lifesavers keeping watch! I wasn’t brave enough to swim without my flippers but didn’t want to get in trouble for wearing them, so I asked my husband to check with the organisers if it was ok for me to use them. The organisers response was that, ‘it might be an issue if she wins’. My husband replied, ‘No need to worry about that, she’s NOT going to win mate’! 😊
I swam the 500m in the ocean and I loved it!! I posted on Instagram that day; “Today I faced my fears and I loved it! You’ve got to keep challenging yourself if you want to grow. Trust me, it’s scary but it feels amazing!”
1 November 2015 came around all too quickly and the same day that I became the new owner of EFM Health Clubs Noosaville I also completed my first Noosa Triathlon! I was incredibly nervous in the but I knew once I got started I would relax. The swim was a lot harder than I anticipated but I did it! And the ride! And the run!
To this day I am so proud that I set myself that goal, that I worked hard to achieve it and that I enjoyed taking part! A few years earlier I would have let lack of confidence dictate to me that I wouldn’t be able to achieve this goal and so I would not have even tried.
So what is my message?
When setting fitness goals or challenges, it is important to remember the SMART goals rule (talk to your coach about this) but that doesn’t mean you cannot think outside the box. Can’t swim but want to take part in a triathlon? As long as you have the time (both in terms of fitting training into your daily or weekly schedule and in terms of allowing enough time long-term to train up before the event) and have the resources and the self-belief – you can do just about anything you set your mind to!
I will always remember that feeling of elation having achieved something I never thought I could!
Thank you for reading my story and I hope that this inspires some of you to take a leap of faith and challenge yourself to learn a new fitness discipline or attempt a new sport in the future.
Kate – EFM Noosaville