At the recent 70.3 Singapore event, British ITU triathlete Jodie Swallow was virtually uncontested as she stormed to a win. She spent time with Slowtwitch to talk about the upcoming season and her plans for the future.
ST: Congrats for your great Singapore 70.3 race. Will that mean we will see you doing longer events moving forward?
Jodie: Thanks, it was brilliant. In regards to the future I want to remain with London 2012 in sight. If we feel that a longer race could contribute fitness wise, confidence wise, experience wise or financially towards that goal then I will enter. I will be in Clearwater in November and believe 70.3 will play an important part in my triathlon career alongside Olympic non-drafting and drafting events. Variety can only develop knowledge in my eyes.
ST: Talking about the race, did it go as you expected?
Jodie: Well I didn’t expect to run away with it! I knew Andrea Hewitt and I may be ahead on the swim and we were capable of tagging onto the guys. I am a strong biker and quite tough in terms of sustained periods (body and mind). I’m running well too so I guess I should have been confident! My coach was confident.
ST: Did the other female pros in Singapore know about you going into the event?
Jodie: I’m not sure really. I have been around in triathlon a long time and I guess there will always be rumors circulating about people’s talent and ability. I know Andrea but we were both inexperienced in 70.3 so couldn’t really predict. A few British ex Olympic distance racers like Leanda Cave and Julie Dibens do well at 70.3 and I think they would have been aware I might give it a go.
ST: Any thoughts about Clearwater, Florida?
Jodie: I can’t wait. I just love to race and loved the distance.
ST: What else is on your calendar?
Jodie: I’ll be racing the World Series and get as high a position as possible for the final. I want to do Europeans for a championship performance and obviously I have loyalties to my sponsors and will race London, Windsor and Blenheim to get them maximum publicity. I also have obligations on the French Grand prix circuit. Poissy are my financial backer and I would be in real difficulty without their support. It’s a tough race schedule and I also hope to fit in a few non-drafting races. As I say I’m privileged to be able to race as a career.
ST: Of your career so far which result do you cherish the most and why?
Jodie: I cherished my junior titles at the time but to be honest I am most proud of my comeback from a very horrid place after being injured at Athens. It took a lot of character. When I won races last year I savored the victories. Singapore was special too as I think it marked me turning a corner in triathlon. I think its important to live and cherish the races of now as triathlon careers do have a use by date and I am really lucky to be doing each race I do.
ST: What is your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?
Jodie: I was a national schools cross country, athletics and swimming champion many times. I swam 4.48 for 400IM and ran 9.42 for 3km at 16 years of age. I have run a 16.11 5km too and still run for my local club Woodford Green in athletics meets. My parents inspired me to race as a child and carted me here, there and anywhere I wanted to race. Triathlon followed on from there when I went to Loughborough University to study. My comeback in 2007 was inspired by my current coach Livio Salvador and his enthusiasm and faith that I could get over injury. He also introduced me to Daley Thompson, a sporting icon, who made me feel positive in my ability.
ST: Can you talk about your thoughts on doping?
Jodie: There is no point winning if you cheat. How would you know if it was down to you or the drugs? It’s one evil to cheat yourself but even worse to cheat your competitors. I think that most winners in triathlon are clean. Until I am performing at 100% of my potential I won’t even worry about the dopers. They are irrelevant to me as I can’t do anything about them- my biggest competitor is myself. I do think that anyone with a positive blood sample should be out of the sport forever. They obviously lack the morality needed in a true champion.
ST: Tell us about your training and how much it has changed over the years.
Jodie: At the beginning of my triathlon career I relied on hard work and talent. I have a capacity to push myself but this often caused injury. I used to selectively listen to the good coaches I had. The lead up to the Athens Olympics was the worst of my life. I was injured but I could run with pain and without the tactic of been able to smash out sessions, I struggled. When I re-entered the sport under the guidance of Livio we established a solid body before anything else. I maintain this conditioning work and still smash out sessions but in a monitored way and at the right times.
ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?
Jodie: It’s tough times but I am lucky to have a good manager in Livio and some brilliant supporters that help me whenever they can (my old sponsor Robert Bailey has been great). It is hard as I am not federation funded. Although this is frustrating, I know that if I stay loyal and we work hard for my sponsors then everybody will prosper. I know also that results and coverage speak for themselves and this is why it is important for me to do domestic races. I am now ambassador for Well Child and am helping to train their team up for London triathlon 2009. It is good to be able to help others enjoy triathlon too. Poissy are great too – the French grand prix circuit is great for the sport. We are currently revamping www.ifollowtheswallow.com so that it offers more to my sponsors and to the triathlon community.
ST: How do you typically spend the off-season?
Jodie: Worrying about getting back to training!! Hopefully we’ll get a holiday after Clearwater this year and maybe get to go to my favorite training place – Stellenbosch over winter. It was too tight money wise this year.
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Jodie: I follow most other sports. Athletics is my favorite although I’ll watch everything except snooker, darts or golf. As a rule it has to have an element of physicality about it.
ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?
Jodie: I love marmite … love it! I’ll try most things but I tend to lose my appetite after races, which is a bad fault as that’s when you need to replenish. I rate milk as a super food after training.
ST: What music do you like?
Jodie: I like different stuff. As long as the performer is talented – which most have to be -to survive nowadays- then I’ll appreciate it. I love Lily Allen’s line ‘everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner’ … so, so true!!
ST: What was the last book you read?
Jodie: I read the 19th wife, which is a book about polygamy. I love to read.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Jodie: I like to think I’ll be starting a family. Who knows though I may want some Ironman action or may just want a more solid career!
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Jodie: Very probably ☺
Jodie Swallow's website is ifollowtheswallow.com