Catching up with Patricia, 18 Triathlons Later

Resolutions aren’t just for New Year’s, but for anyone whose 2021 exercise commitment could use a little inspiration, we decided to catch up with Foss Swim School adult swim lesson alum Patricia, who attended FOSS in 2018 with the goal of completing a sprint triathlon (read Patricia’s original story here.)

When Patricia first came to FOSS, it was to prepare for a sprint triathlon (half mile swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run) that a friend had invited her to join. While she knew she could do the bike and run, “when you ask people about triathlon’s everyone is ALWAYS worried about the swimming,” she said. That included her, so she enrolled in a 9-week semi-private adult swim lesson at FOSS. “I remember, the first time I went, even with the short pool, I was not able to make the length. I looked at my teacher and said ‘Am I going to be able to do this?’ She said, when you’re done here you will.”

Fast-forward about two and a half years, and Patricia is still going strong. She has completed 17 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic length, and is training for a half-ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run.)

Secrets to sticking with it: Community, creativity and competitiveness

Patricia insists that her example isn’t superhuman. Like anyone, she has faced challenges and temptations to not follow through. “Was everything perfect? Heck no. Did I keep every routine? No, but you have to remember that tomorrow is a new day.”

Three things that Patricia attributes to her ability to stick with her routine:

  • Community: “What’s kept me going is the sense of community, the people I’ve met,” she says. “The support systems I have in place are really unique. I have training and accountability groups – the friend who first asked me to join, we now have a group of 22 people.” While pandemic restrictions mean they can’t work out together like they once did, they do keep each other motivated, and follow who has done what races, which creates a culture of accountability. For people who want to stick with their own healthy routines, finding others to take the journey with you is key, she says.
  • Creativity: “What else can you do when things aren’t ideal? You’ve got to be creative in ways,” Patricia says. A rowing machine and snowshoeing help keep activity levels up this winter even when swimming isn’t an option. This was especially true in 2020 with pool closures, but even in the best of circumstances, variety can help a person get out of a motivation-zapping rut.
  • Competitiveness: “I rediscovered my inner athlete” by taking on triathlons, Patricia says. “The competition keeps me there, but really, it’s what it does for my health, emotional stability, and community” that’s the ultimate benefit. For many people, being able to track performance and see improvement creates motivation, a sense of accomplishment and gives them that rush that keeps them coming back.


Making the most of a hard year of lockdowns and closures

Many of Patricia’s formal triathlons never came to fruition during 2020. A year upended by the COVID pandemic, closures to pools and health clubs, and restrictions on large gatherings and travel were a damper to such races.

“A friend pointed out, this year didn’t look like we wanted it to. But let’s focus on the parts that were transformational.” For Patricia, this meant getting creative with her workouts, creating new routines she could stick with and setting up personal triathlons to reach her goals. “So much is about consistency. Maybe enroll a friend to do it with you. What has gotten me through this is definitely the people – I’m surrounded by people who are upbeat, positive and moving forward.”

As for the value of swimming, which was the final piece that made her journey possible, Patricia is emphatic: “If you can’t swim as well or better than your children, you need to take swim lessons,” she says. “Once you do it, and once you learn to really swim, it’s can be a lifelong sport. I love the feeling afterwards.”


Want to learn more about adult swimming lessons? Get in touch with your local Foss Swim School.

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