YEP triathlon challenge: ‘Well swimming in Roundhay Park’s lake was cold’

Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
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With less than a week to go until the first ever Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds, YEP reporter Jonny Brown dipped his toes into open water ahead of his fundraising triathlon challenge.

Well that was cold.

On a sunny June morning, just a week before the world’s greatest triathletes – and amateurs like me – descend on Leeds, I decided to try out open water swimming for the first time.

In five days I will be zipping up my wetsuit and trying to swim 1.5km through Roundhay’s Waterloo Lake before a 41.5km bike ride and 10km run.

As I stepped into the lakeside Leeds Rowing Club, picked out a wetsuit and joined 15 other first-timers at the last free pre-triathlon Go Tri taster session, it did start to dawn on me that I probably should have faced my fears earlier.

Weeks of basically learning how to distance swim, while running increasing distances and cycling to work and beyond did not prepare me for this.

We lined up by the water near Roundhay Park’s Lakeside Cafe and were shown how to get into our suits before being ushered to a floating pontoon to help us into a 25-metre square shallow section of Waterloo Lake.

“As soon as you get in lie on your back and dunk your head and neck in – it will get your body used to the shock of the cold,” our British Triathlon instructor said.

But it was a nice day, the weather was nice, it couldn’t be that cold, surely? No, actually he was right. It was freezing.

The ice cold water seeped into my buoyant yet restrictive suit, I tried swimming and instantly experienced ‘brain freeze’.

Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The feeling dissapated as we were told to swim from one side to the other, while looking ahead to assess which way we were facing and avoid colliding with others.

But getting my head up interrupted the rhythm I had learned in the pool, I began to rush my breathing and became disorientated by the darkness of the water through my goggles. It was the panic I had feared.

After about 90 minutes of stop-start swimming, we ungracefully flopped out of the water and jogged to our towels.

In all I probably swam about 150 metres – I have to do 10-times that on Sunday plus a big bike ride and run. I can do the distances but I don’t know whether I can cope for 1.5km in the lake or do the disciplines consecutively.

It couldn’t be that cold, surely? No, actually he was right. It was freezing.

Jonny Brown, YEP reporter.

It was a great introduction but I can’t say that my fear of panicking in the open water this weekend has subsided.

Let’s hope that my first triathlon will be an experience to remember for the right reasons.

The lowdown on a global sporting spectacle

Leeds will take centre stage once more when the ITU World Triathlon Series makes its city debut this weekend.

And with the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds now just days away, the Yorkshire Evening Post is the only place to turn for unrivalled triathlon sports and news coverage before, during and after the big event.

Our lead triathlon correspondent Jonny Brown is writing about his preparations ahead of his first triathlon alongside thousands of brave amateurs this weekend.

Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Reporter Jonny Brown at a Go Tri open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Olympic distance event includes a 1.5km swim in Roundhay Park, a 41.5km bike ride from Roundhay to the city centre and a 10km run around the streets of Leeds.

Jonny is tackling the course to raise funds for the A Million for Maggie’s campaign – a £1million fundraiser to help build a new Maggie’s cancer support centre at Leeds St James’s Hospital.

With the help of expert advice, online swimming tutorials, Go Tri sessions and months of training aided by a Bodyline Premier membership to Leeds City Council leisure centres, he is hoping to show that anyone can take up triathlon.

As well as publishing his updates, we will be covering the arrival of the pros, offering full spectator information and telling you all you need to know about Leeds’ maiden ITU World Triathlon Series stage.

We will also be printing a full pre-event guide with Thursday’s Yorkshire Evening Post as well as covering Sunday’s race and Saturday’s Go Tri festival in full.

Search ‘triathlon’ at yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk for more stories or visit justgiving.com/JonnyBrownYEP to donate in support of Jonny and the Maggie’s charity.

A British Triathlon introduction to open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

A British Triathlon introduction to open water swimming session at Roundhay Park. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

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