Does swimming in cold water fill you with dread?  Coach Justin Granger has some great tips.

Dealing with cold water swims is different for each and everyone. Some cope better than others and more often than not experience is a big factor in better dealing with it.

The best preparation is to practice in water temperatures similar to what you will experience on race day. Benefits to this can be achieved even as close as a few days before. This practice will teach you how best to learn to deal with the shock that the body will encounter.

Check out Triathlon training plans from Justin here.

Other than practice, my tips are to perform an extensive (20mins) dry land warm up, like running as close as possible to race start time as allows. Even overdress for this to really heat up your core temperature and have a good sweat. Try to maintain this elevated core temp up until the race start.
I suggest that if the water is near or below 60f don’t even get into the water prior to the start, as your core temp will drop and you will start to shiver. Just keep warm by moving around in your wetsuit even keep a beanie, gloves and thick socks on and dump them just before the start.

Before the start try to keep calm and focus on your breathing, take long and controlled breaths. Be prepared for the tightening of your chest and a shortness of breath that will follow a few strokes after the gun goes off. Make a concerted effort to not sprint too hard off the start and build your pace gradually as you adapt to the cold water. If you need to get more air in don’t stop, but rather start to Brest stroke with your head above water, then resume swimming as soon as you are ready.
Think about getting a neoprene hood if you have concerns or even 2 silicon caps can provide more protection.

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by Justin Granger


Traveling the world has its pros and cons. Most places we have traveled to for a race are nice but there are the odd few races that are held is parts of the world you wouldn’t recommend to anyone. It can often be a gamble heading to somewhere new that has never hosted a race before and the memories from such an experience last a long time.

Belinda came home raving about her first Ironman Korea experience, she loved the magical island of JeJu with a clean beach swim followed by a rolling 1 loop bike course and hot and steamy run leg out to the World Cup stadium and back. And I guess the fact that she won her first Ironman title there in 2001, helped too! There was no doubt she wanted to return and easily convinced me to come along. For some reason the island venue of JeJu had lost the race and a move to the northern part of South Korea to Sokcho was where the 2002 edition was to be held. Some 50km away from the DMZ (Demilitarisation Zone and North Korea) the multi loop bike course was a stone’s throw away from a very different world that we know. The new choice of venue was a little disappointing as JeJu had sounded very nice but we were up for a new adventure regardless.

Following a ridiculous amount of time spent traveling by car-plane-bus we arrived at our final destination of Sokcho, the venue of 1999 International Tourism Expo, and checked into our basic Korean style pension. Belinda looked at me and apologised – this is not what JeJu was like, she told me. After a little sorting of the room and a full unpack it was time to check the local area out to see what was on offer. We found the main strip not far from our pension and all was going well until I managed to step into a hole. Yep, too busy rubber necking, I had walked into a snapped off plastic drain pipe right in the middle of the footpath and ripped open my shin half way between my ankle and knee. As I pulled my leg out of the dirty pipe to my horror I could see what looked to me like bone, nice one! Well wouldn’t you know it, this happened right outside a medical centre, so I didn’t have far to go to get help. No need to speak the local language, my reason for the visit was quite clear upon entry and 30mins later I was hopping out of there on one leg with 4 internal stitches, 8 external stitches and a handful of pills. The next couple of days were spent laying around figuring out if I could actually race or not.

Race day snuck up far too quickly. I had created a wrapping to try and keep my wound dry under my wetsuit. Luckily the swelling was reducing by the day and I didn’t come all this way to watch. What was the worst thing that could happen… leg might fall off? My race was ordinary and I lost time to my competitors on the swim and bike as I nursed my injury and felt flat from the stress I was dealing with. By the time I hit the run I just did my thing and managed to run well, only the run seemed to go on forever. The last 3km felt like when you are on a plane circling, waiting for clearance from the control tower, wasting time. All of a sudden a van appeared offering water, clearly the run was marked out too long and there were no aid stations set up on the newly added extra scenic loop.Talk that day was that the run was between 44-45km and all I needed in my compromised state! I finished in tenth and made the prize money, enough to cover my medical bills. Raynard Tissink won his first of many Ironman titles that day and the start of an awesome career. It was great to be there and watch Belinda cross the finish line in 1st and capture her second ever Ironman title. She had a battle on her hands that day and seesawed over the 45km run with 3 other girls (Andrea Fischer, Belinda Halloran and Marissa Robbins) and eventually came out on top for the second year running.

Post race was good fun as we had a great bunch of international pro athletes come to Sokcho. The award ceremony was a big deal and a chance to try some odd local food while being entertained by the local cultural team of dancers and musicians. A few drinks livened things up as the stories flowed on and on – good times with new friends. My leg healed up well and I was back to normal just a couple of weeks after returning home. To this day I still have the giant scar on my left shin – just to remind me of my trip to Sokcho!

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by Justin Granger


Justin runThe triathlon scene today, in the Asian region, has become a great alternative or even progression from the sport we have come to know at home in Australia. The quality and depth of races Asia has to offer now days is a far cry from the 10 plus years ago, when Belinda and I first scoped out the region. Back then for us it was all about adventure, a chance to broaden our triathlon careers and maybe a bit of a cherry pick here and there. The further we dug the clearer it became that Asia had some of the hottest and hardest triathlon courses the world had to offer.

The adventure began for us when we first competed in Ironman Malaysia on the beautiful island of Langkawi. This would become our induction into the world of endurance sport adversity in the harshest and most extreme elements that one could endure in the pursuit of chasing an Ironman title. The experience left us physically empty and mentally drained but also opened up a new chapter in our sporting careers that we both felt drawn to. It was the battle within that became the attraction, the pure will to beat all that is thrown your way, be it heat, wind, hills, solitude or attrition. These were all things we desired from our racing experiences and finally we had found it – triathlon in Asia!

Belinda Philippines

The race that February day in 2003 was an eye opener for us, because at that point of our careers we had not had such a raw Ironman triathlon race experience (nothing like the big shows of Ironman Australia, New Zealand and Kona). During the race I had found new competitors that I would end up racing on many occasions in the future. These guys were the best from Japan and Korea at the time and not knowing their strengths and weaknesses was a thrill for me as the day went on. Up front the legendary Luc VanLierde was taking it out hard, almost as if this was just a normal Belgian summer’s day. His lead was over 30 minutes off the bike on the rest of us, and either he or us would be learning a lesson in how to do it today. In second position was another Belgian guy on the rise called Marino Vanhoenacker. Way down on his friend Luc, he was doing his own race up ahead of me and my new Japanese mates. At around 13km into my marathon I witnessed something that not many have ever seen – Luc VanLierde was walking and throwing up.

Yes, he had blown thanks to the wicked pace he had set for most of the day which had eventually derailed him, like it has done to many racing in Asia in the past and present. He did eventually win the race from Marino, but that massive lead had shrunk by half at day’s end. I would go on to finish in 6th place (behind the 2 Belgians, 2 Japanese and Petr Vabroušek). Belinda ending up 2nd to a Canadian girl, Gillian Bakker.

This was the period of the standard Ironman prize purse of US $50,000 paid 10 deep, of which we got our cut of for the efforts. We both walked away from this experience with a huge amount of valuable knowledge that we would use for years to come as we built our Asian triathlon resumes.Justin Bohol

Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s Asian destination races, such as Laguna Phuket triathlon, Ironman Japan, Ironman Malaysia, Ironman Korea and Subic Bay in the Philippines were treading the waters for the future of Asian multi sport. The big names of the sport at that time to discover this scene were the likes of Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Tinley, Mike Pigg, Greg Welch, Simon Lessing, Jürgen Zack, Carol Montgomery, Wendy Ingram just to name a few. With this type of lineup word spread and races seemed to pop up throughout the region at a rapid rate. This day and age some of the world’s biggest prize purse races can be found in Asia along with all the big name events from the Ironman and Challenge brand.

Laguna podiumBelinda and I have made it our thing to discover all corners of the Asian triathlon scene over the last decade and have raced in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, China, Malaysia, Japan and the Philippines. The journey continues to this day and we look forward to every chance we get to find new events to share with others that have the same passion we do. The development of local athletes and the awareness of the sport is incredible and a thrill for us to watch. With the full domestic season that we have in Australia now days it does seem unnecessary to leave, but I promise you nothing beats an adventure to one of the many Asian destination races to find what you are really made of as opposed to chasing that soft PB time on a flat easy course.

 Belinda Bohol

Being able to reward yourself and your family with a post race holiday is icing on the cake.


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Well done to Clinton Millar, Pawel Chalacis and Stephen Burrowes who also finished IM Cairns! "Finished another ironman extremely tough day and had to go...