“NO­BODY UN­DER­STANDS THE EMO­TIONAL ROLLER­COASTER OF TRAIN­ING BET­TER THAN A PRO ATH­LETE.”

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - TRANSITION -

The pair don’t need much of an in­tro­duc­tion. South African born Cun­nama is a mul­ti­ple 70.3 and Iron­man cham­pion with a fourth-place fin­ish at Kona in 2013. Bri­tish-born Swal­low is a 70.3 world cham­pion, Iron­man cham­pion and Olympian.

De­spite the suc­cess­ful year Cun­nama has had so far with a third-place fin­ish at Iron­man 70.3 Bus­sel­ton and a win at Iron­man 70.3 Viet­nam a week later, he has not qual­i­fied for Kona, but will be there to sup­port Jodie and Bahrain En­durance team­mates.

“It looks like Kona is out for this sea­son. I could chase the points, prob­a­bly even get in, but get in and not be ready, what’s the point?

“Some­times you just have to roll with the punches and plan long term. So I’ll aim for a good 70.3 worlds then fo­cus on get­ting some early points for Kona 2016 so I don’t find my­self in this sit­u­a­tion again next sea­son,” says James.

Swal­low had a very suc­cess­ful year so far. She won her fifth con­sec­u­tive Iron­man 70.3 South Africa and then won Iron­man South apart to a min­i­mum as the stress doesn’t help ei­ther of our per­for­mances,” says James.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key to eas­ing the stress of their lifestyle. “No­body un­der­stands the emo­tional roller­coaster of train­ing bet­ter than a pro ath­lete, so I guess it helps that we are both in the same boat. We don’t re­ally have any rules to fol­low or set guide­lines, it just works for us,” adds Swal­low.

Be­ing a triathlon cou­ple has its ben­e­fits from a busi­ness per­spec­tive but has a big­ger ad­van­tage on a per­sonal level. There is some added ex­po­sure, but each still has their own iden­tity and hav­ing some­one whose lifestyle meshes with theirs and to travel with is in­valu­able. “If we were con­stantly leav­ing some­one at home to race and at­tend camps, life would be a lot harder,” says James.

When it comes to train­ing, their pro­grammes are vastly dif­fer­ent but they do spend a lot of hours to­gether in the pool. Cun­nama jokes that this is mainly for his ben­e­fit as Swal­low is a top swim­mer. was obliv­i­ous as the med­i­cal team had moved her off the course be­fore he got back to her. “I don’t know how I would have re­acted to that but Jodie would have killed me if I had stopped for her.”

Qual­i­fy­ing and trav­el­ling to Kona is a big com­mit­ment for any­body and a few tips from this power cou­ple can’t hurt. The best piece of ad­vice for Kona-qual­i­fiers, the power cou­ple in­sists, is in­vest­ing in a de­cent condo a lit­tle away from the race venue.

“Avoid­ing that crazy race-week buzz and keep­ing your energy lev­els high is im­por­tant. A few too many trips to the swim start, expo and restau­rants can leave all your energy and adrenalin gone be­fore race day even dawns,” says Swal­low.

Cun­nama and Swal­low make it clear that be­hind ev­ery cham­pion is their big­gest fan.

Gavin Grobbe­laar is an Iron­man ath­lete, ul­tra marathoner and jour­nal­ist. He runs Ul­tra Media.

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