Injury the ultimate endurance test for elite athlete
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.’’