Meet Caroline Dixon, five years ago Caroline could not swim. It was on a holiday with friends when Caroline was sitting by the side of the pool watching her friends have a great time in the water that she decided this had to change. Caroline had a go at getting in the pool, however her inability to swim left her frustrated and upset. Fast forward 5 years and this summer Caroline will be taking on the ITU World Triathlon Leeds 2018!
Caroline decided that when she returned from her holiday she would learn to swim and so with the encouragement of her friends, she took to the water. Caroline describes swimming as, ‘an inner challenge, where everything in your mind is saying no, particularly when in the open water.’ But with lessons, she has gradually got better and set herself some personal goals.
Caroline attributes her great progression to Rhys Davey, housemate and training partner of Jonny Brownlee, ‘without Rhys's help and encouragement, I would never ever have set foot in a lake, never mind swim in one. He encouraged me (rather than coached me) on and off over the next 12 months and gave me the confidence to sign up for a super sprint distance (400m lake swim) in 2015.’
From there Caroline’s passion for swimming and triathlon has continued to grow - she is now a member of Leeds Bradford Triathlon club - each year she sets herself new challenges in order to continue her progress, ‘it might not sound like a lot, but realising that I could conquer my childhood fear of not being able to swim and then set myself my own goals and develop at my own pace is so rewarding.’
Open water swimming is a huge barrier to many people entering a triathlon, so we asked Caroline for a few tips, she said, ‘set really small challenges, try and go with a friend, even if they just sit in the car whilst you go into the water. If it is your first event, try and get someone to chaperone you round the swimming course – this certainly helped me the most.’
Caroline concedes she is still not, nor will she ever be the world’s best swimmer, however she takes a huge amount of pride in just how far she has come, ‘it’s been a struggle, I’m still slow, but I swim four times a week and have just completed a half ironman distance swim, I finished 3rd from last but who cares! It’s all about giving it a good go, I would absolutely recommend a triathlon to anyone.’
If you have been inspired by Caroline’s story, why not take on the ITU World Triathlon Leeds 2018 at www.leeds.triathlon.org/enternow