Jodie Swallow is part of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team and we had a few words with her about Bahrain, racing, qualifying, equality and much more. Javier Gomez, Jan Frodeno, James Cunnama, Brent McMahon and Terenzo Bozzone are also on the team that will be officially launched this week. Additionally a development team will also be announced and that one is headed by Macca. The sponsorship of the team is meant to promote health and wellness through endurance sport for the people of Bahrain and a portion of the teams earnings are donated back to sport development. But for now let us hear from Jodie Swallow who just finished 3rd at the North American 70.3 Championships in St. George, Utah.
Slowtwitch: Thanks for your time Jodie.
Jodie Swallow: No problem. I'm pretty lonely without James anyway - will talk to anyone.
ST: At St. George you had a fine performance culminating in 3rd place at these North American Championships with tough competition. Talk about that day.
Jodie: Ah, I don't know. For me personally - it was.... bleurgh. I did feel good on the bike though and I like to break on mountains so that was the best part. Running wise I just felt flat but worst I spasmed a bit in my tummy muscle at around 4 miles. I'm glad I held it together by easing up a little and using a few mental tricks but equally annoyed with myself because I didn't preempt that my hip flexors were pulling a little tight all week. I know I sound like a spoiled brat about it. A podium in that field is nothing to be taken for granted. I don't take it for granted I just want more.
ST: It started with relatively cool temps but got quite hot. How well do you deal with heat?
Jodie: Hey I'm half African...I didn't actually feel hot at all. I did enjoy the one iced water cup that I got. Warm coke and water sucks a little when it is 35 degrees!
ST: Did someone take all the other ice?
Jodie: No, I'll blame the lack of ice on rising carbon dioxide levels Herbert.
ST: You are also leading the KPR chase and are qualified for the big dance. Is that a big monkey off your back?
Jodie: No - with 4th last year I would have been safe in the points without winning South Africa. Qualifying shouldn't ever be a problem for me, winning it - that is the big issue! I like being number one ranked. I am very consistent. That's good.
ST: In St. George you raced in the Bahrain team kit that featured all your other sponsors too. Was that the first time competing in that kit?
Jodie: No I raced in that kit in South Africa. I can't believe you didn't watch it Herbert!
ST: My vision is getting poorer as I am aging, plus not being there did not help.
Jodie: I understand. All the red and white kits this year - it gets confusing.
ST: Well, when did you join the team and how did it come about?
Jodie: It's been on the cards since the beginning of the year. The inaugural Challenge Bahrain race and the hospitality and welcome we received as professional people there was probably the precursor to my own interest in being part of it. I fit their criteria and they mine. Trying to make a difference, create a vision and using sport to inspire and enhance life. I'm coming to a stage in my life that I realize that people follow what I do and take interest in my battles and triumphs not only because of what I do, but who I have become. I want to use that position and example how perseverance, sacrifice and determination can overcome obstacles. That matches with Bahrain Endurance's vision.
ST: You are the only female Bahrain Endurance squad member as far as I know. Does that add extra pressure?
Jodie: I'm really proud to be a woman in sport. I'm proud of all women in sport. I think I am one of three on Bahrain Endurance. I hope that my inclusion in the Champion 13 inspires girls and women but boys and men equally. Women bring different assets to elite sport but none are of lesser quality.
ST: Which other pros on the team would people be familiar with?
Jodie: There is this guy called James Cunnama. He is seems quite appealing! To be honest all of the team members have incredible credentials. Jan Frodeno, Tim Reed, Brent McMahon, Terenzo Bozzone to name a few. There are World Champions en masse.
ST: What about the other females you mentioned.
Jodie: What about them?
ST: You mentioned being one of three. Who are the other two?
Jodie: Haha, I think they are getting their own announcement and wouldn't appreciate me sabotaging it. They are both World Champions.
ST: People often wonder about female rights in that part of the world. You have raced there a few times now and joined a team that originates there. What have your impressions been so far along those lines?
Jodie: I felt very comfortable and extremely welcomed in Bahrain. I can only speak from my own personal experience but people treated me with much honor and respect. On and off the race course.
ST: Many people judge situations and people without having been there or having met the people they judge. But I guess that is nothing new.
Jodie: We are all a little guilty of that. I know that my presence on the team as a female is very important and I know the vision of health, dedication and pursuit is inspirational for both men and women.
ST: Can you also share your thoughts on Kona equality and what number do you think would be spot on, or at the very least ideal?
Jodie: I think that numbers should be equal. I think it more of a priority to make sure that World Championship qualifiers in elite sport do not leave the Championship severely out of pocket for want of competing. At the moment only the top 10 win prize money. Eleventh in the world gets a big flight, accommodation and living bill. I would like equal slots. I would like a fair race, with no male infusion - age group or pro, with even coverage and mechanical and media provision for each gender. They are my major concerns. I don't want any extra professional women to have to sacrifice their season and spend money to compete in the World Champs with no financial reward. This is a legitimate career and should be treated as such.
ST: What advice would have for these upcoming pro women? And what should they spend their money on?
Jodie: Professional triathlon is not heavily financed, it isn't a matter of suggesting how others should spend their money - it is an opinion on what is more beneficial financially and will therefore add sustenance for the following year. There are many great races around the world in September through January with money up for grabs and also prestigious titles. Sponsorship wise more is gained from winning an Ironman away from Kona than finishing outside the top 15. That doesn't just relate to women - it relates to men too.
ST: I actually suggested that to a few men and I don’t think it was well received.
Jodie: I guess it depends who you said it to and when Herbert! Probably a few days before Kona wouldn't be a good time. When it comes down to it, it is up to individuals to judge how they invest in their career. Everyone has different circumstances and different motives. James was a good example. He did Kona in 2009 and fell flat and only returned when he was ready to contend the top ten. He waited 4 years, returned, came 4th - with a Roth win, a sub 8 and many other wins and prizes in the bank in the meantime.
ST: You do not really have to race anymore, but that is likely not going to fly well with you. So what is on schedule from now until Kona?
Jodie: I'll race Challenge Roth. I would like that title, and also the 70.3 World Championships. Racing is in my blood - it makes me a better athlete for the Championships. Then just other training races.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Jodie: As a veteran of triathlon I believe I have a responsibility to try and develop the elite sport and as such try and be open, honorable and honest to my beliefs. I believe triathlon would not be half the sport it is without the professionals and that development of this aspect of the sport can only see more money, coverage, interest and growth for all parties. It will take time and currently I think everyone is on the same page with this; athletes, Ironman, Challenge Family, ITU. The future will be exciting - I am excited for it.
You can follow Jodie Swallow on Twitter @jodieswallow and on Instagram @jodiestar. She is very interesting to follow.
All images courtesy and © Nils Nilsen/IRONMAN