Once a month, we want to speak to clubs who help inspire and encourage people to achieve so much more than could have ever expected to. In December, we spoke to the students involved with the University of Nottingham Tri Club to find out what it is like to be studying for a degree and train for a triathlon and other events:
Where did your triathlon journey begin?
[Poppy]: My triathlon journey began at The University of Nottingham after a friend from school who had spent a year at The University of Nottingham and a year in The University of Nottingham’s Triathlon Club already, before I joined, persuaded me to join the club – I have never looked back!
[Dervla]: Around the age of 13 I saw a flier for a sprint triathlon at my local swimming pool. I took a copy, handed it to my parents and asked if I could do it (I would be 14 the minimum age by the event date). It was organised by the same people who ran the popular Bowleaze Cove Aquathlons in Weymouth which we did as a family. After finding a 1991 women's Peugeot racer for me to ride, I entered! It was both traumatic and one of the best experiences of my life at the time – I completed it on a slow puncture as neither me or my dad had the tools to repair it.
[David]: Army sprint triathlon – Bassingbourne 2005 – I got talked into it the night before after several pints of Stella and came dead last.
Are you a triathlete or enjoy coaching?
[Emily]: I am a triathlete although I have dabbled in leading a few circuits, run and bike session which I really enjoyed.
[Alan]: A triathlete, although as club president this year I have taken on more of a leadership role and help support sessions more.
Were you a member of a Tri Club before you started University?
[Poppy]: I was not a member of a Tri Club before I started University although I had been a member of a swimming club previously. I was a keen rower before transferring to triathlon at the university.
[Dervla]: Not officially. I only raced at a couple of clubs events year in, year out. The University of Nottingham was the first to trap me in.
[Alan]: Nope! I had done a few swimming lessons at school and had been riding my bike around in rugby shorts and school polo top - I was a complete triathlon newbie.
What is it like being a member of the University of Nottingham Tri Club?
[Emily]: Awesome! I absolutely love being part of such a diverse and incredible team. The social aspect is amazing and makes me look forward to every session (even 6 am swims). I also love the performance opportunities available via the club coaches and performance squad.
[Alan]: Honestly, fantastic. It's been one of the most defining parts of the University for me. The complete mix of ability in training means there is a very humble and friendly atmosphere in the club, with GB level athletes training alongside people, have only just learnt to swim. I think the social aspect is what keeps so many people in what is normally considered as a fairly brutal sport!
[Poppy]: I love being a member of The University of Nottingham Tri Club! I enjoy the social aspect of the club and as I am not a performance athlete, I never feel pressured to attend any training sessions, however, there are plenty of training sessions on offer to members of the club!
How do you find balancing studying and training?
[Dervla]: More difficult in my latter years. I’m often on residential or on long days including on Wednesdays which are for other courses protected in the afternoon for sports. But when I am back in Nottingham, the later evening sessions and weekend sessions fit well with my availability, and as there’s no requirement to go to every session, it makes life a lot easier. There are also others in a similar situation, and we tend to meet together outside of official sessions to complete training, it helps that we’re a large group.
[Poppy]: I sometimes find it difficult to balance studying and training, however, I will always prioritise work over training if necessary. I find that time management is crucial to balance studying and training effectively.
[David]: Hard work – My course is pretty much 9-5 Mon-Fri but timings change and we often have to move around to different locations so it can be a challenge to try to fit sessions in. On the plus side, I do find that a good training session helps me to de-stress very effectively.
Do your degrees involve sport? If not, do you feel there is a correlation between your studies and triathlon?
[Emily]: No, but I think that triathlon has massively improved my time management skills and confidence in myself.
[David]: I study medicine and see a huge number of patients whose conditions are caused or contributed to by their sedentary lifestyle so I guess that’s good motivation to keep on training!
Do you think it’s easy to find events or challenges to get involved with, with your club?
[Dervla]: Definitely. There are some completely mad people in the club who find crazy challenges and want others to join them. I’m easily persuaded. Oh, and we also do BUCS (university competition) together I guess…
What are your goals within the Tri Club?
[Poppy]: Within the Tri Club, my goals are to stay fit while I am at university and to keep improving at triathlon. I am to do this by keeping up training and competing in triathlon events regularly.
[David]: I’m competing in Outlaw next July. I’d very much like to go sub 12:30.
[Alan]: I have actually signed up to the Outlaw half in Norfolk, so I want to be fighting fit for that in July. Generally, I want to keep the same positive & friendly atmosphere that made me join the club in the first year, as well as making our offer to all of the members as good as possible.
What do you feel the three main benefits of being a member of the University of Nottingham Tri Club?
[Emily]: Great value coaching for all levels.
Incredible social support network.
Opportunities to get involved in sport in rewarding ways such as volunteering or coaching
[David]: Motivation, it’s easier to drag yourself out of bed at 6 am when you know that there’s going to be multiple people sharing in your pain and a coach to tell you what to do.
Social aspect – Group rides are just more interesting than riding alone, they also tend to go further than you would alone.
Advice/Support – Need a bike tool? Help to fix something? Advice on what kit is good and what’s a waste of time… Go to the Facebook group and find a wealth of experience (and/or strongly held but baseless opinions!)
[Dervla]: Community, you gain a support network of people who share similar aims to you, at the very least in the sporting sense. Coaching, sessions and equipment: self-explanatory but a lot easier than creating a programme yourself and trying to motivate yourself to stick to it in your backyard. Holidays: Majorca to keep my vitamin D topped up.