In­jury the ul­ti­mate en­durance test for elite ath­lete

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - PAULA HULBURT

As an ul­tra en­durance ath­lete, Lieu­tenant David Edgar is used to over­com­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenges. But noth­ing tested his re­solve more than an in­jury that left him barely able to walk and put his ca­reer in jeop­ardy.

As soon as he re­gained con­scious­ness af­ter surgery, Edgar asked if the op­er­a­tion to re­align his knee had been suc­cess­ful - and im­me­di­ately started plan­ning his next marathon swim.

Three years on and Edgar has re­cently re­turned from Samoa af­ter com­pet­ing in the 2018 Apolima Strait In­ter­na­tional Open Wa­ter Marathon Swim­ming Com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘Due to hav­ing a bowed right tibia there was a lot of pres­sure on the me­dial side of my knee.

‘‘The knee was re­aligned by 10 de­grees by open­ing the bone up and fixed with eight pretty big screws.

‘‘At the 6-week point I could not walk 50m to the end of my drive way,’’ he says.

The iron-man ti­tle holder swam the 25km stretch of the Apo­lioma Strait in eight hours 10 min­utes. The cross­ing can take any­where from 6 to 14 hours to com­plete.

‘‘I can truly say it was the ex­act ex­treme chal­lenge of hu­man en­durance I was ex­pect­ing, but in con­trast to the tem­per­a­ture of the sea that I train in at home, the sea in Samoa is like a warm bath.

‘‘Part of it for me is the re­silience, can you push through and men­tally get to it?

‘‘You learn a lot about your­self along the way, and at the end of the day I en­joy it. I strug­gle to sit on the couch and watch TV,’’ he says.

Far from rest­ing on his lau­rels. Edgar is al­ready work­ing to­wards his next event. He plans to swim the Cook Strait and then progress to­ward com­plet­ing the New Zealand Triple Crown; the Cook Strait, the Foveaux Strait and the length of Lake Taupo.

Edgar says it can take up to two years just to get a spot to swim the Cook Strait.

While he waits, the New Zealand De­fence Force strength and con­di­tion­ing and per­for­mance sci­ence spe­cial­ist will take on other swims in­clud­ing the Strait of Gi­bral­tar and the Malakai Strait in Hawaii.

‘‘It’s about the train­ing, but mostly about men­tally and phys­i­cally hav­ing the right match.

‘‘I’m just a very nor­mal per­son, but what I have learnt is we are able to achieve phys­i­cally far more that we can ever per­ceive,’’ he says.

Edgar, who joined the army at the age of 22, started swim­ming train­ing at 18. He now swims 3km14km a day.

‘‘I was 18-years-old and swim­ming in a squad with pri­mary school kids learn­ing the ba­sics. It was a strug­gle to keep up as my tech­nique was shock­ing but my fit­ness al­lowed my to con­tinue to thrash away and keep up.

‘‘My favourite swim, when it’s warmer, is to swim from Pic­ton to Waikawa Bay around The Snout and back,’’ he says.

Born in Tokarao in South Waikato, Edgar has rep­re­sented NZ at two world triathlon cham­pi­onships, two world duathlon cham­pi­onships and the World Iron­man Cham­pi­onship.

A fa­ther-of-two, Edgar says his fam­ily have been a ‘‘mas­sive sup­port.’’ Along with wife Karen, daugh­ter Pepa, 16, and son Oliver, 11, have trav­elled the world with him.

He has also re­ceived help from the Blen­heim Round Ta­ble who he says were ‘‘fan­tas­tic.’’

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