Thomas Priest GBR representation European and World Championships
Sport: Aquathlon Swim/Run (1k/5k)
Hot Chilli Winter Series Winner,
Yeovil Aquathlon Winner (Course Record Holder),
Bustin’SkinAquathlon Race winner,
World Championships 5th
2014 marked a significant breakthrough in sport after years of swimming and running competing in local and national races. The combination of hard training and a commitment to IMPROVING rather than maintaining fitness levels ensured that I was ready to step to up international competitions.
October 2013 was when a conscious decision was made, as aged 27 I felt I had not yet met my potential with my sporting ability and success as a youth. I decided to focus on my two favoured sports as I had tried triathlon a few years ago and seemed to spend time being overtaken on the bike. I entered a winter aquathlon series based in Frome & Trowbridge (Hot Chilli Tri Club) and won my first race. This taste of success gave me the motivation to properly train and take on the idea of ‘training to improve rather than maintain’. Sessions were spent at the Aqua Centre ploughing up and down gradually brining my fitness up and my times down. I went on to win the whole series.
As I became stronger and stronger in the two disciplines my race times decreased and I became more confident at races. I had registered to qualify for the European Aquathlon Championships and submitted race times to the selectors. After I found out I has been selected to travel to Germany as part of the Great Britain Team, I again increased my training load. Once in Germany the race was more competitive than I had experienced in the UK and was slightly battered by the time I exited the murky waters of the Rhine River. Out and on to the run I was feeling good and picked off a few of my rivals and managed to get home in 35 minutes and 3rd place – European Bronze, very happy.
"To now look back on 2014 and see a European Bronze and to be 5th in the world is a massive achievement."
Back in the UK and swimming at the Aqua centre and running with Crewkerne Running Club, I was faster than ever. I had also now been selected for the World Championships in Canada. I kept to a strict training programme along with foam rolling and flexibility work to ensure no injuries or niggles were present. August 27th and in hot conditions I entered the lake with a run and dive along with many other competitors from across the globe. I had decided that my swim was going to be hard and I didn’t want to be knocked around again like I had in Germany. I exited the lake in the lead group without a touch – ideal.
I had worked extremely hard to be on the position I was at this point and my lungs were bursting. After surviving the run and keeping as fast as I could I completed the course in 30 mins (significantly quicker than Germany). This has put me in 5th place. To now look back on 2014 and see a European Bronze and to be 5th in the world is a massive achievement.
It did take time and effort but with the facilities we have locally, Aqua centre, running club, the sea and plenty of hills and local races it really is a perfect training environment.
Plans for 2015 –I am now aiming to get back on the bike to prove myself in the more popular sport of triathlon. So a training year aimed at maintaining swim and run times and big improvements for the bike stage. I am still going to compete at Aquathlons - I would like to medal again at the European Championships in Germany.
- Tom Priest
My tips for Swimming
Swim regularly – the more you do the fitter you will become (aim for 3 sessions per week)
Set yourself programmes/targets for each session. I used 3000m as a session goal, broken down in to 100m sets through to 1000m sets
Swim with other people – a training group helps motivation and speed.
Relax – swimming should be done with relaxed shoulders – be comfortable in the water – even in open water swims
Use variety – mix up session between speed and endurance – don’t get bored. Open water swims can also help as it allows a long swim with no walls!
My Running Tips
Start slow – build up a base fitness and be able to run 5k (3.2 miles) at a comfortable pace