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Catching Up With Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow

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After winning the ITU Long Distance World Championship last year, a lot of people thought that Jodie Swallow would take the natural step into long distance triathlon. She didn’t. Instead, the Londoner made the bold decision to focus on getting a place at the London 2012 Olympics. We caught up with Jodie to find out about London, her move to Switzerland, an what she’s planning in 2010.

Triathlete: How did you end up training in Switzerland?

Swallow won the 2009 ITU Long Distance World Championship. Photo: Delly Carr/
Swallow won the 2009 ITU Long Distance World Championship. Photo: Delly Carr/

Swallow: It’s difficult training outside of a group in the UK unless you are lucky enough to have a full time coach. I’m primarily of a swimming mentality (I have competitively swum since I was 10) and as such like to be able to communicate with my coach on poolside or trackside daily. I guess moving to Switzerland was a step in finally appreciating where I come from and what I need in a training environment and also a step in ascertaining how far I am willing to push myself in order to be the best I can in preparation for 2012.

Triathlete: Have you noticed an improvement in your training since you’ve been over there?
Swallow: Definitely but I have to be patient and learn my environment and measure my progress calmly and sensibly. I have enough progression and feedback to be able to start dreaming again….

Triathlete: You seem to be training a bit with Bek Keat – does having athletes like that around help and what kind of training sessions are you doing with her?
Swallow: Yes I train with and laugh with Bek. We ride, run and sometimes swim together as I do with the rest of the guys and girls here. Me and Bek suffer together too because we moan when one another is moaning and to be frank we are both pretty tough too (when the hard work sets in).

I think we have loads of different personalities around and they can each spark off one another if put in the correct environment and given the right stimuli. This is of course no easy or simple feat.

Triathlete: Is it tough being a largely self-funded athlete?
Swallow: It’s tough and I have had to heavily rely on my parents and on sponsors to get me out here. I can swallow that reliance on them though because I am convinced what I am doing here each and every day is going to get me where I want to go.

Triathlete: You recently wrote about the Olympics. What’s your take on the BTF selection policies and how do you think they’ll affect your bid to be part of the team?
Swallow: Well, I think that obviously policies are important to federations and to make things clear to athletes about what they are aiming for but I concentrate on being the best athlete I can be and the first across the qualification line – then there’s no better bid to be part of the team.

Triathlete: Having bagged the Long Distance World Championship, a lot of people would have thought you would naturally aim for Ironman and 70.3 now and yet you’ve chosen to focus on Olympics. Is London 2012 the sole goal for you at the moment and was that a difficult decision?
Swallow: Yes it is the main goal, but not the sole goal. If I am top at ITU then I can be top at longer stuff too. This is a home games for me. I am a London girl and that could be amazing.

I won’t set limits on myself in terms of time scales and ages and distances etc. I just work hard and do what I’m told by the best in the business and I know I will be correctly focused and successful at what I choose to race. That’s not an easy thing to do but it is fairly simple.

Triathlete: How do you feel the season is going for you so far? Are there any races in particular you’re aiming to peak at in 2010?
Swallow: Well my training has stepped up, that’s for sure. I was getting stale training alone at home, I missed having a coach there and was swimming on my own and stuff so it is certainly progressing. Race wise, I’ll be hitting August and September very hard and hopefully results will follow the work I put in.

Triathlete: What are the sessions you least look forward to?
Swallow: I like my sessions in general. What I don’t love is the hour climb up the hill after doing these sessions – it’s hard arse. Or gives you a hard arse (one or the other)

For more information about Jodie visit