Despite only starting to compete in triathlon in 2012, Adriel Young has been to Kona twice, was top age grouper at the 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships, and also finished the 2015 Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in 13th place. Now this Aussie who currently resides in Sweden is off to Greece to volunteer as a rescue swimmer with the Sjöräddningssällskapet crew to assist refugees who get in trouble.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for the chat Adriel.
Adriel Young: Thanks for having me!
ST: I think you have a big trip to Greece ahead of you.
Adriel: Yes, I head down on the 12th of February, I will be down there as a Rescue Swimmer for the Swedish organization Sjöräddningssällskapet. How’s that for a mouth full. They are an NGO funded on donations alone. They have been doing some amazing work with the current refugee crisis, which is getting just growing currently.
ST: How did you get involved and what exactly will you be doing there?
Adriel: I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity through Matthew Fader who is heading the operation there for Sjöräddningssällskapet. I jumped at the chance to be able to put my skills and knowledge to such a needy cause. My role as rescue swimmer is to get to the places our boats can’t, retrieve patients from cliffs, etc. I am very lucky to be heading down with some really experienced boat drivers who are amazing at what they do. The work is going to be demanding physically but even more so mentally.
ST: So the task is mostly about saving refugees?
Adriel: Yes, there is a constant flow of refugees trying to make there way from Turkey to Greece. At the moment they are rescuing people from 5 in a boat up to hundreds everyday. I was surprised as you don’t hear so much in the media anymore, however there is just more and more trying to make it into the European Union every day.
ST: I guess it is just more fun to watch cats and other animal videos on Facebook.
Adriel: Yeah tell me about. It is hard to know what’s going on out there with the media these days.
ST: I guess the media gives what the people want. So when will you return to Sweden?
Adriel: I head back on the 29th, with a possibility I will go down again.
ST: But Sweden is a long way from Bondi Beach.
Adriel: Tell me about it. [laughs] I have been based here for 18 months now. My fiancé Carro is from here, so after 5 years in Bondi we decided to try out Gothenburg.
ST: How did you two meet?
Adriel: There is no exciting story of me rescuing her on the beach unfortunately. [laughs] We met at a friend’s birthday back in 2007 and we were friends for the first few years.
ST: What are some of the things you have done in Sweden that you never did before back in Australia?
Adriel: In my 18 months here I’ve had some amazing experiences, I’ve raced in the worlds largest Cross Country Ski Race after only trying skiing 5 times previously, 16,000 skiers in a mass start over a 90km race. I’ve also been ice skating a bit and playing a bit of hockey, which is very addictive, also the sport of SwimRun, which is massive here and great fun. I’ve really been trying to get involved in as many different things as I can, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.
ST: How did you end up doing in that ski race with the 16,000 skiers?
Adriel: I actually skied with Carro and she was so good. She hadn’t skied much at all before so it was a tough day for her but she made all the cut off times, even with a few tears. I loved every minute and I got to enjoy the crowd, the famous blueberry soup and cinnamon buns along the way.
ST: You are pretty new to triathlon. I think you got inspired in 2012 and have already done Kona twice and Norseman too.
Adriel: Yeah my triathlon career, if you can call it that, was pretty fast forward, within the first year I had been the first non-pro across the line at the 70.3 Asia Pacific Champs, raced IRONMAN Melbourne and Kona. I just picked out the races I really like the sound of and worked hard to get there. I’ve been pretty lucky to meet some amazing people on my triathlon journey that have helped me so much and now have become life long friends. It was always easy for me to put in the hard work leading into a race because I really just loved it.
ST: Was Crowie the one who got you going?
Adriel: Yeah I first met Crowie at a charity event where we ran on treadmills for the 100km record, then a local running legend in Dean Degan. Then of course all my sponsors are amazing but for me it’s the people behind these brands that have made the journey so easy and fun. Funny in 2013 going to Hawaii I didn’t have any accommodation booked, so I wrote on Twitter if anyone had a bed and Pete Jacobs wrote back and offered his parents place. That is not a bad family to be around in your first year on the Big Island. They were all so good to help settle the nerves. I could talk about all these people and many more for hours.
ST: Are you still in touch with Pete Jacobs and Crowie?
Adriel: Yeah I try to keep in touch, and when all else fails, Facebook is always great for keeping up with friends when living on the other side of the planet.
ST: When you were first age grouper at Asia Pacific Champs, did folks wonder who you were?
Adriel: Yeah I think so. I scalped a few pros that day, so no one was more shocked than I. When I first finished I wasn’t really sure how I’d gone being one of my first ever triathlons. I wasn’t expecting anything and we weren’t one of the first wave to start so I wasn’t 100% if I’d even won my age. But I remember Lisa Pringle came up to me and gave me a huge hug and said “You're going to Hawaii!” then the shock kicked in.
ST: What did you most enjoy about Kona?
Adriel: Kona is the pinnacle of triathlon, the atmosphere, the whole week is amazing, nothing compares. I enjoyed the entire experience but nothing compares to running down Ali’i Drive, the crowd going crazy and then hearing Mike Riley yell your name, nothing can describe that.
ST: And how does Norseman compare?
Adriel: Oranges and Apples. [laughs] Norseman is a tougher race, you're out there for longer, you're battling the elements in a whole other way, the water was 10.5 degrees. It’s also a point-to-point race with only 250 people racing so you don’t really see many people during the day. One thing I loved was having a support crew, its pretty special that Carro could join me for the whole journey, she was there in the low points to help dig me out and to enjoy the highs, which you don’t get very often in triathlon, was a fun way to be able share this often very selfish sport.
ST: Triathlon a selfish sport?
Adriel: Ha ha. I feel a bit guilty spending 5 hours of Saturday on the bike and then coming back and all I want to do is lay on the couch followed by a long run Sunday and more couch. Not the best way to spend your 2 days off together. It is tough because I actually really like spending time with Carro. Hats off to the people who have kids, I don’t know how they do it.
ST: What is your most memorable race experience to date?
Adriel: Hawaii is always going to hold a special place in my heart, along with Norseman but also I loved Asia Pacific 70.3 champs in Auckland, I had 2 of the best races of my life there.
ST: I think OTILLO is on schedule this summer.
Adriel: Yes we qualified on merit, I will be racing for the Thule Adventure Team with Eva Nyström, and her resume is very impressive - so I hope I can keep up!
ST: How will you prepare for this race?
Adriel: Luckily enough I have some of the best training at my door; I live on a lake with trails everywhere and Eva lives not far from me, which is great. I plan to race the world’s largest SwimRun event in August, which is Öloppet here in Gothenburg, they get close to 700 teams racing.
ST: Rumor has it that you also want to bring SwimRun to Australia. Where does this stand as we speak?
Adriel: Yes, we will be launching Australia’s very first SwimRun event very shortly. The entries will open for SwimRun Australia on the 15th of February and race is the 14th of May. Participants will race around Sydney Harbor. Keep an eye out at swimrun.com.au as our website is due to launch very soon.
ST: What are the distances and how many transitions?
Adriel: The distance is just over 18 kilometers with 13 runs and 12 swims, the course is beautiful. I tested it out in October when I was home!
ST: 18 km sounds pretty short. Will it be challenging and who is the target race crowd for this event?
Adriel: Yeah I guess it is short as far as SwimRun goes, however it’s a pretty challenging course and I still think racing redline for 2hrs is going to be a challenge for the faster guys, much like an Olympic distance triathlon. We also want this to attract all walks of life and abilities to challenge themselves, the sport of SwimRun is very different and new to Australia and I think this is the perfect introduction into this adventurous sport.
ST: Anything else we should know?
Adriel: I also organize Gothenburg Triathlon now in its 3rd year. Life is great. I am very lucky! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me.
You can follow Adriel Young on Twitter via @TheBACON_