How did you get into Surf Life Saving and what prompted you to make the switch to Triathlons? Was it a hard decision?
I grew up on Sydney’s northern beaches where surf club culture was ingrained in kids growing up. I was a water baby and enjoyed playing various competitive sports through primary and high school. By high school, I was taking surf lifesaving seriously and knew I wanted to be a professional athlete when I left school. The Director of Sport at my high school suggested I also give triathlon a go, I thought ‘why not?’, hired a bike and entered the state championships. I surprised myself and others by quickly falling in love with triathlon.
It was a hard decision to make the jump across to triathlon and leave surf lifesaving behind. I was leaving behind something I was comfortable with to chase the unknown, but I always wanted to go to the Olympics and represent my country on the world stage and triathlon allowed me to go after that dream!
Obviously there are big differences in equipment, but what have you found to be the biggest challenges switching sports?
The biggest challenge was learning to manage the amount of training that triathlon requires to compete at a world class level. I had a few injury niggles along the way as I adjusted from surf lifesaving, which is an upper body-based sport, to triathlon, which requires more lower body running and riding. Luckily, I grew up in an active household and was familiar with riding a bike. This helped the transition period getting on the bike and out on the road!
What does a regular week of training look like for you?
A regular week in the ‘office’ is anywhere between 20 to 30 hours of training. This varies throughout the year depending on where I sit in the race calendar and the overall training ‘block’. Training for me involves swimming, riding, running, gym workouts and Pilates. I generally swim around 25km, ride 300-400km, run 60-70km and will do up to two gym and pilates sessions. On top of this, I often have to factor in travel, regular physio and massages and importantly taking the time to prepare plenty of nutritious meals to fuel the training!
What practices or habits outside of physical training help with your performance?
I regularly work with a sport psychologist to develop mental strategies and preparation for racing and the big ‘Day One’ events such as the Olympic Games. When you work so hard every day, having a calm and clear mind can make all the difference on race day!
Eating a well-rounded and dense plate of food is also essential to helping me fuel my body. Making sure I get the right balance between energy intake and expenditure is very important to preventing injuries and energy deficiency.
I’m a proud registered nurse and over the years while completing my degree, I found having that mental stimulation outside triathlon helped give me perspective and gave me another goal to strive towards, which kept me grounded.
What does a regular day on a plate look like for you?
A regular day on a plate for me involves a good balance between carbs, proteins and healthy fats, plus a little chocolate at the end of a hard day!
When I wake up in the morning, I’ll have a banana and coffee before heading out for my first training session. In between sessions, I’ll enjoy my favourite breakfast of fresh bread, two eggs, avocado and smoked salmon. I’ll then head off to my next session with plenty of hydration in hand, using Precision Hydration products to keep my electrolytes in check. Once I’ve finished my second session, I’ll have some Greek yoghurt with honey while I start preparing my lunch. A favourite lunch of mine is fish wraps. I’ll bake fresh white fish and enjoy in a wrap with some cheese, avocado, beans, a salad mix and dressing. For the afternoon training session, I make sure I have some fruit handy to snack on and always have a protein recovery shake straight after. For dinner, I’ll enjoy baked salmon with a variety of roast veggies served on brown rice with pesto. I’ll then finish off the day with a little chocolate!
The countdown is on in the lead up to Tokyo2020, how does your prep change before big events like this?
The countdown is certainly on! With less than a year to go my preparations for Tokyo 2020 are well under way. I recently had an Olympic Test Event which was a great chance to familiarise myself with the course in Tokyo. Even though I am training for the Olympics, I try not to hype myself up and rather stay calm and relaxed. I remind myself that it’s just a Triathlon – swim, bike, run – the same as what I’ve raced many times before. I have faith knowing that I always give of my absolute best on the course, and at the end of day, that’s all we can ask from ourselves.
How have you found balancing studying with competing? Was nursing something you always wanted to do?
I wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember! My mum was a nurse and I spent a large period of time in 1997 in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead as a critically ill four-year-old. As much as this was a horrible period for my family, I have happy memories of the friendly nursing staff and Starlight Express Room. I have always wanted to share this passion of caring for others in their moments of need through nursing.
My nursing studies helped me manage my time very efficiently. Between my studies and training, there was no time to waste being on my phone or Netflix for hours!
Why have you teamed up with the Starlight Foundation, what has been your experience with the organisation?
I’ve teamed up with Starlight because it’s a foundation that will forever hold an important place in my heart. Starlight helped me and my family get through a hard time in my childhood when I was critically ill. Thinking back to that time I am grateful to still be here today, let alone living life as a professional Triathlete travelling the world and racing for my country!
I was in The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and John Hunter Children’s Hospital for nearly six months after a ruptured appendix was left undiagnosed for nearly four days, by which point I was septic, with complete bowel obstruction and early rupture, and finally looming organ failure. After more operations than I have fingers and toes and enough x-rays to light up a Christmas tree, I distinctly remember some nasty times but most importantly I have some very fond memories. I remember visiting the Starlight Express Room where I could have fun and play with other kids and the amazing staff who worked there. I left hospital as a shy and fragile four-year-old with one exhausted family. Luckily for me I was granted my ‘Starlight Wish’ to see the dolphins and my family and I got to go on a holiday to the Gold Coast where we enjoyed essential family time together. I owe Starlight a massive thank you, not only for my experience as a child, but now as a nurse watching the help they provide others. I love being involved with Starlight and am a proud advocate for their biggest fundraiser, Tour de Kids!
Starlight Children's Foundation and cyclists across Australia will be riding the distance for sick kids this September as part of their annual Tour de Kids challenge. Raising much-need funds to support Starlight’s vital hospital services, Tour de Kids invites riders of all ages, fitness levels, and from virtually any location to simply register via the Tour de Kids website, select the distance they want to cycle, choose a fundraising target and get riding! Starlight’s Tour de Kids challenge will run from 1 – 21stSeptember and registrations are open now.