Hot on the heels of Jodie Swallow’s record-breaking fifth-straight victory at Ironman 70.3 South Africa, I had a chance to chat with the world champion athlete as to the formula for her success and her plans for the 2015 season.
Triathlete.com: Huge congratulations on your victory in South Africa! Winning any race five times is impressive, but doing so five times consecutively is an even greater accomplishment, not to mention a rarity. What do you think has contributed to your consistent top performances at this race in particular?
Swallow: Thank you. These days each race is contended well so yes, five times in a row is special. Even the fact I haven’t been (too) injured or ill for five years is surprising! The thing with this race is that it is early on in the year and so suits an athlete like me who is only ever 20 percent away from full fitness for most of the year and that it is so hot, windy, hilly and torrid. I get on with my race and try to work with the conditions that are given. I have confidence I am at least excellent at enduring and this race sometimes can feel like a war of attrition. It is a great exercise to toughen me up for the year.
Triathlete.com: You truly are consistent across the board–in terms of reaching the podium time and again in the big races, and also in terms of being a force to fear in all three triathlon disciplines. What do you feel are the keys to your ability to excel all-around in swim, bike and run?
Swallow: In truth I always put it down to training. I am very good at enduring, as I said before. Training is the best part of my day and my main focus and once you enjoy something that is productive there is no looking back really. I also employ the best coach in the world–Siri Lindley–and that is totally something to do with it. We train hard and specifically at all three disciplines. I see no reason why I could not be an elite swimmer, or runner or a cyclist if I absolutely focused on that. You have to be that good these days and I think that putting no limits on my ambition and ability helps me approach training properly. The other thing is my health. I eat properly–healthily and balanced all the time so I can keep multiple sessions in my day and perform well despite what I have already done.
Triathlete.com: You were on the podium at almost every major race last year. What’s on your 2015 schedule?
Swallow: I like racing the best and am in the privileged situation of Kona points for 2015. I can therefore select races based on prize money and coverage and specific professional lady provisions (separate waves, enough gap between us and the age groupers, sport development for professionals). These are priorities for me. My schedule includes the Challenge Triple Crown (Dubai, Oman and Bahrain), Ironman South Africa, Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Champs plus another full distance in the summer depending on circumstances.
Triathlete.com: Obviously anything can happen on any day in this sport, and you can only control certain factors–such as your own preparation. Looking ahead to Kona, where you’ve come within reach of the win, what do you think it will take to earn that top spot? Is there something specific you feel you need to focus on more so than you have in the past?
Swallow: No, Siri and I are exceptionally happy with 2014. We won’t change too much as we are moving forward each week. As you say I am in reach of the highest rank and will work with time and circumstance to do all I can to win it.
Triathlete.com: In your time working with Siri, what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from her thus far?
Swallow: She is very special. She reminds me to value myself–outside of racing. That is weird as she is my sports coach, but then I am weird, so we fit. Siri would value me just as much if I decided to quit triathlon. She judges people on their soul, not their prowess.
Triathlete.com: As we head into a new season, considering all the triathlon politics that were in the spotlight last year, what are one or two changes you would like to see as the sport moves forward?
Swallow: I would like to see a compulsory gap for race organizers of Full Continental Championship standard races from pro women to age group men of 25 minutes (Frankfurt, Roth, Texas, South Africa, Brazil, Kona) as a reflection of equality of provision and fair racing for women in elite fields. Racing is only inspirational if it is fair–drug-free, draft-free and respected.
I would like to see better coverage of big races prioritized by race organizers, initially on the internet, which I believe would prompt further media interest in our professional sport and a better experience for fans and spectators. We have an excellent product and the coverage of Challenge Bahrain should be the standard. The excitement and feedback that surrounded that inaugural event was second to none. I want to increase the professionality of professional triathlon.