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May 20, 2019

It’s all going swimmingly - the discipline of Aquathon

Jonathan Midwood, General Manager of Up & Running, looks at the discipline of Aquathon

Triathlon has been seen as a trending sport for a number of years now and has received a considerable amount of interest from the media as well as funding from many governing bodies.

It has been at the fore of many weekend warriors’ minds in recent years and while there has been a slight down trend in 2018 from the previous year, approximately 19,000 people participated in triathlons in England, it certainly appears entrenched in the hearts and minds of amateur and professional sports people alike.

Running parallel to this sport, but not as widely written about, is Duathlon and the even less known Aquathon. The duathlon is made up of a Run, Bike, Run format and is something that has made it to the heady heights of televised global exposure. The current champions in the 2018 World Championship, which involve a first run of 10km, a cycle of 40 km and a second run of 5km, are for the men Andreas Schilling (DEN) and for the women Sandrina-Illes (AUT).

Consisting of running and swimming, the lesser known International Triathlon Union sanctioned Aquathon is usually contested over a variety of distances, but is more often than not based around a 5K (run), 1K (swim) and a 5K (run) model. Aquathon can be perceived as occupying a third place in the ‘multi-sport arena’, behind duathlon and of course triathlon, but it covers off, in my humble opinion, some of the most technically challenging elements of any of the classical multi-sport disciplines.

For instance, if you have ever tried to swim a number of lengths of the pool, trying to find that ever illusive ‘catch’ and when you do, hold that form you’ll know that it isn’t that easy. Furthermore, try and do that for a number of lengths and then try and get out of the pool using those chrome ladders at the shallow end of the pool. In my experience it’s akin to a food-friendly panda trying to climb up a greased slope. Not a pleasant sight. Try doing that after you have run your first 5K and you can perhaps see why I see Aquathon as a challenging and physically draining sport.

The other thing to note is that you are doing this under your own propulsion. No bike, no oars, no sails. Just you, the water and the floor beneath your feet. It is the ultimate in self propulsion. However, in order to do it you do have to wear something otherwise your segue into Aquathon may be a short-lived excursion into the multi-sport arena and one that could have legal ramifications!

So, the question is what kit do you need?

Rather than focus on the training, which can involve a lot more expensive training equipment, I’ll focus merely on race day. One thing to note is that the list is not exhaustive, but will cover off most of the essentials.

Firstly, if it is an open water swim then you may want to consider a wetsuit. This, of course, is dependent on the temperature of the water and the rules of an event organiser, but it is often better to be safe than sorry so an inexpensive wetsuit would be a good piece of kit to have in your kit bag. This can be done, after perhaps doing some of the sprint events that don’t require a wetsuit, just to see if you like the events. One piece of advice, if you do get one, would be to leave time to put this on in the transition and to practice this transition.

Secondly you can wear a triathlon suit, a one piece garment that is popular in multi-sport events. These ‘swimsuits with shorts legs’ are put on before the event starts. You can get the suits with padding for cycling, but because you are not on a bike you may consider having one that doesn’t have the padding for this event.

A t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt can be used for the run phases especially if you feel ‘body conscious’ in the one-piece suit and two would be of benefit because after the first run where the T-shirt may have got sweaty it would be nice to put a dry one on. Maybe, in this instance this one could be an old item that you may want to take off and throw away if you feel too hot on the run or lightweight so that you can loop it through your tri-belt. Either way, and this is an important element, make sure that all kit is tried and tested. There are no medals for chaffing and blisters.

Goggles for the swim and two pairs of socks for the run. One for run one and one for run two (the socks may not be worn on run two, but it gives you an option). A towel to dry your feet after the swim and, perhaps more importantly for the run, the running shoes that are your race day favourites. A tip for the transition here would be to put a little talcum powder in your running shoes as this will make it easier to put your wet feet into them. You may not dry them well enough at speed so the talc will help absorb moisture. You also need to make sure your laces are loose enough to slip your feet in but instead of tying laces, it may also be worth considering buying lock laces or elastic laces that will hold your laces tight but are easier to cinch in. Again, a top tip would be to practise putting your running shoes on quickly. Oh yes, let’s not forget the tri belt and the safety pins. You’ll need to have this for both run phases.

This final tip. Many ladies would simply not feel comfortable running without a bra and therefore wearing a good sports bra would be good recommendation. This can be worn under the tri-suit and a good bra like a Shock Absorber or Brooks Bra (non-underwired) would be good – it has to be comfortable and non-chafing. In this instance this is more about comfort and reducing breast movement rather than modesty, after all, the other competitors will all be focussing on their own swim and the supporters will be watching their own competitors! But a good sports bra, that has been tested in a swim and a T-shirt will help out the more self-conscious athlete feel comfortable and focused on the run, swim, run.

An Aquathon, in my opinion, is perhaps one of the more accessible and cheapest ways of getting started in multi-sport events. There is no need for a bike, some of the shorter distances are held in pools and therefore a swim suit and goggles are all that is needed for that phase and the running is something that everyone should be doing anyway (I would say that wouldn’t I).

The beauty is that an Aquathon is simply you using Newtonian principles, to move muscle and sinew to achieve a personal goal. It is you working in harmony with and on three of the four classical elements (Air, Earth and Water) to hopefully manifest the fourth, a Fire in your heart and mind.

Aquathon can give you something new to have a go at and it is relatively simple to take up. For more information on your local Triathlon (Duathlon/ Aquathon) club visit https:// www.britishtriathlon.org/clubs

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