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Formula 1 driver Jenson Button took part in a fitness challenge against 2012 Olympic medalists Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee.
Jenson Button has just clambered into a swim flume—swimming’s equivalent of a treadmill—with two tubes protruding from a claustrophobia-inducing mouthpiece strapped to his face.
One scientist is sitting next to the small pool with two laptops. Another is using what can only be described as a fishing rod to hold up the two tubes, attached to a mobile breath-analysing computer.
Even at the ‘human performance lab’ they couldn’t manage to come up with anything more sophisticated than a wooden rod.
If that does not seem like enough of a handicap for Button as he begins to swim, the Brownlee brothers—the all-conquering force in triathlon—are standing close by, piling on the pressure as they await their turn in this multi-disciplinary head-to-head.
“You’re wearing a cheat suit,” Alistair Brownlee, the older brother with Olympic Gold to his name, half-jokes.
The three have only just met, but that does not stop the two professional triathletes winning mentality revealing itself when up against Button, a keen amateur who stages his own triathlon at Luton Hoo Spa, Hertfordshire.
But there is a snag for the 2009 Formula One World Champion. After a few minutes swimming, with the pace gradually increased, the panic at having an invasive mouthpiece sets in. He has to surrender this challenge.
“That was the most horrific experience,” Button says getting out of the water with his face bright red. “I got so freaked out. I get claustrophobic quite easily. It’s so strange swimming without turning to the side to take a breath. Not to mention having to breathe through a mouthpiece.”
Read the complete story, plus see photos and the results: Telegraph.co.uk