Catch­ing waves

Iron­woman Jor­dan Mercer is one of our hottest ath­letes. But what is a day in her life like? We sent WH’S Alex Davies to find out...

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS -

Surf your way to fit­ness with all-round leg­end and Iron­woman Jor­dan Mercer

Glid­ing through sun-kissed wa­ter, sec­onds from catch­ing a wave, I have a

Blue Crush mo­ment. My board’s for pad­dling rather than surf­ing but, still, some­one should bot­tle this blend of ex­hil­a­ra­tion, ex­cite­ment and nerves. Though, that last feel­ing is eased by the fact Jor­dan Mercer’s hold­ing my board.

I’ve been spend­ing the day with the iron­woman, surf-life­sav­ing and pad­dle­board champ in her home­town of Noosa on Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast. Our arvo cool-off in the wa­ter comes off the back of a beach work­out with one of her train­ers. For that,

I’d braced my­self for gru­elling sand sprints and burpees, but in­stead we went through a body­weight ses­sion of small, con­trolled moves, such as hops and ham­string levers. It wasn’t the flog-your­self car­dio I’d imag­ined hav­ing to po­litely duck out of be­fore pass­ing out on the sand; it was all about con­di­tion­ing, strength and im­prov­ing move­ment.

One pri­or­ity of Jor­dan’s is that train­ing in one area doesn’t harm an­other: her week’s made up of pool ses­sions, gym, run­ning and ocean work. She’s also fo­cused on re­cov­ery and re­build­ing strength since frac­tur­ing her left foot in 2016. “The tim­ing of the in­jury came just af­ter I’d achieved some of my biggest sport­ing goals [in­clud­ing her first iron­woman ti­tle in 2016] and the next year, hav­ing to sit out, I didn’t get a chance to de­fend my ti­tles,” the 24-year-old says. “Work­ing to get back from scratch has been very chal­leng­ing phys­i­cally but also men­tally. I di­rected my mind­set to say, ‘Let’s not think about what I can’t do, let’s fo­cus on what I can do.’”

Fam­ily af­fair

One ti­tle Jor­dan will re­turn to chase this year is the Molokai 2 Oahu Pad­dle­board World Cham­pi­onships in July. We’re talk­ing about a 52km ocean cross­ing on her board, over a stretch some­times re­ferred to as – wait for it – the Chan­nel of Bones. She’s won the Hawai­ian event six con­sec­u­tive times but couldn’t com­pete last year with her in­jury. “It’s prob­a­bly the rac­ing event on my cal­en­dar I’m most pas­sion­ate about, and it’s def­i­nitely the tough­est,” she says. “The biggest

thing is com­mit­ting to the train­ing and men­tally back­ing up those long, long stints in the pool and ocean, just pad­ding for hours on end. I’m not will­ing to turn up not feel­ing like I’ve left no stone un­turned.”

Jor­dan’s work ethic is a Mercer thing. Her dad (also her coach) is iron­man roy­alty Dar­ren Mercer, who we met ear­lier in the day at her sun­rise ocean train­ing sesh, while her late un­cle Dean Mercer also won a string of ti­tles. “When I was born, they were at the height of their ca­reers, so I was al­ways down at the beach as a lit­tle sand crab, be­ing a men­ace, run­ning around the tent with all the com­peti­tors,” Jor­dan re­mem­bers. “When my dad raced he was the world’s best – he was the great­est. I prob­a­bly don’t tell him enough, but I just love learn­ing from him. I wouldn’t want to do this with any­body else.”

The close-knit fam­ily were hit by tragedy when Dean passed away in Au­gust last year at the age of

47, af­ter suf­fer­ing a car­diac ar­rest. Jor­dan refers to be­ing ‘Mercer fam­ily strong’, and I ask what that means in the face of such a loss. “I’ve al­ways felt so grate­ful that I was fol­low­ing in the foot­steps [of] and rep­re­sent­ing such a strong, kind fam­ily,” she says. “Grow­ing up, I just idolised my dad and my un­cle – they were re­spected by fel­low com­peti­tors as be­ing great sports and re­ally gen­uine, in­cred­i­bly hum­ble peo­ple. It’s so heart­break­ing and dev­as­tat­ing when you have this re­al­i­sa­tion that the things you love are so frag­ile. Life is so pre­cious.”

The next wave

As we walk around Noosa pre- and post-work­out, peo­ple say hello to Jor­dan – at break­fast (smoothie bowls), as we try to find a park at the beach, and when we stop at her favourite Co­cowhip stand. It’s clear surf life­sav­ing is a big com­mu­nity. Jor­dan works with the lo­cal Nip­pers and on a pro­gram for young girls. “It’s to sup­port and en­cour­age them to get out there, and re­ally to push for that sup­port­ive team en­vi­ron­ment, which I was so lucky to have when I went through the ranks, and [which] I know kept me in the sport,” she says. “You re­alise how im­por­tant it is for women to em­power women, and for young girls to sup­port one an­other.”

Post-sport, Jor­dan would love to work as a teacher (she’s study­ing pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion), but for now, her sights are set firmly on Hawaii. We say bye as she heads off for evening train­ing in the pool, then home to her part­ner Tim a few beaches along the coast. I fin­ish my Co­cowhip and leave for my flight back to Syd­ney, al­ready think­ing about when I can re­turn for Blue Crush round two.

Women’s Health trav­elled to Noosa with Red Bull Aus­tralia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.