I originally met Andy at a running group session approximately 4 years ago. His super friendly, happy and encouraging nature made me instantly know that this is one of the amazing people in life. Andy has since then inspired me with his dedication and hard working character. He has always offered me positive words of encouragement whilst out on runs together.
Andy is a talented ultra-distance runner and this year has decided that he would like to further challenge himself by entering the Lake Wanaka Half triathlon in February next year. “Living here everybody I know is super active, be they runners, cyclists, multi-sporters, snow sports athletes, lake swimmers, triathletes or in many cases all of the above! I’ve had fun training and going on all sorts of fun missions with my friends with one major exception, yep that would be the swimming. To go back to my childhood back in Scotland we didn’t exactly have the same approach to being in the water as Kiwis do, where in summer in particular the whole of New Zealand appear to be in lakes or the sea.”
Whilst Andy did learn the basics of swimming as a child he never enjoyed it and stopped swimming lessons as soon as it wasn’t part of the school curriculum. He was never comfortable having his head under the water and still doesn’t to this day. Andy has embarked on learning to swim and has made great progress but isn’t finding it the easiest thing. “Here’s the thing about learning to swim when you’re in your mid-forties versus being a child. Children just do what they are told to do “you go sit on the bottom of the pool for a while” – and they do, where as I analyse and think about consequences and all possible outcomes. Becoming calm and relaxed in the water is not a natural state for me and is something I’m really having to work on.”
Andy is already super fit so is finding it a somewhat frustrating process as “swimming is unlike other sports I’ve tried and I cannot just power though to balance up a lack of talent. I’m finding swimming is all about technique and poise and calmness, where currently all I have is some power… it is getting better, where I have some good days and some bad in the pool though I’ve not got to the stage where I can just keep swimming and swimming.”
We are aiming to start introducing lake swimming in November once the temperatures start to increase. “Getting into the lake in the spring, now that will introduce a whole new set of challenges: it’s cold and there’s no end to hang onto after every 25 meters for starters. The challenge will be to get me to be calm out there and then introduce swimming in rougher conditions, in a group etc. to the point I can be confident of being able to compete in an open water event. There’s a whole lot of work to do to get ready for this and I will need a huge amount of help!”
Andy has also drawn inspiration after volunteering and spectating for a few years at local events. “Seeing pretty much every single type of body shape and style and watching friends winning age groups or outright to one particular friend who completed his first half distance this year having only learning to swim the year before. I became inspired by all of these people and events to learn to swim to the point I could happily and safely swim in the lake.”
Andy and I are super excited and motivated to start ticking off all of our little goals towards the big one. I feel extremely honoured to be able to work with Andy and together I am sure we will achieve!