George is a triathlete and swimmer, who is passionate about reducing waste and protecting our coastlines.
Have you always been into sport?
Having two older sisters to try and keep up with, I soon followed their path and started competitive swimming aged 5. I was fortunate to have some success in my swimming career from a young age, achieving 6 age-group national titles and competing at the British Olympic trials in 2016. Aside from swimming I have also been a keen cyclist growing up, enjoying mountain biking in the local woods, and also having to use my bike as my main method of transport. Sport has been a key part of my childhood and I have made many friendships and positive memories no matter what the sport has been.
How did you first get into triathlon?
I completed my first triathlon just before leaving for university, it was a local race and I decided to give it a go. My performance was a long way from perfect. I had one of the slowest transition times and nearly lost a shoe; however I finished the race excited and really loved how the race switches between the three disciplines. In my second year at the University of Sheffield I signed up to the triathlon team and this is where I started to learn lots about triathlon from training with more experienced triathletes. I quickly became fully engaged in the sport.
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite triathlon was the BUCS (British University and Colleges Sport) Standard Distance Triathlon in 2019 at Southport. Not only did it host the English Standard Distance championships, but there was also over 230 students racing – this created an electric atmosphere with great team support. I felt strong on the swim and managed to exit the water in first position, however this was short lived as I was soon passed on the bike leg by stronger cyclists and TT bikes. Sheffield University had 20 students racing which created a strong team atmosphere, and added great value to the overall event.
What is your proudest achievement?
On the final weekend of July (2020) I set out to swim all the lakes in the Lake District to raise money for the clean drinking water charity Just A Drop. The swim covered 13 lakes, 3 days and 71km. I have previously only done one ultra-distance swim before so I was heading into unknown territory in my swimming ability. However with thanks to a strong support team providing plenty of snacks from the kayak, I finished the final few kilometres as the sun set on Derwent water on the 3rd day. The swim tested my psychological and physiological limits, however I managed to keep going and exceeded what I thought I was capable of. I am a strong believer that people have the capacity to exceed their perceptions of what is possible, and must believe in their own ability.
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
When I was starting out in triathlon, during the bike leg of a race I had to bunny hop over a pothole, as I landed my seat fell out on to the pavement. The race was a super sprint so I finished the final few kilometres without a seat and had to stay out the saddle. My legs were knackered starting the run, a mistake not to be made again!
How do you overcome setbacks?
After a setback I try to take a step back and keep things in perspective. Whilst there is a lot of pressure placed on race day to execute the race immaculately, our bodies aren’t hardwired and performance will fluctuate depending on a whole host of lifestyle and training factors. The key is to learn from the setback and move forward onto your next goal wiser.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
I would encourage anyone who is enjoying sport to try and find a local club and commit to the training programme the best they can. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by study and work and to miss out on a training session. Nevertheless I have found that during busy times in my life triathlon has been a solution for me, giving me an hour of exercise with my close friends and a release from anything else going on in your life. It can help engage you in supportive community of people that are active, and bring out some of the great social benefits of sport.
What are your goals?
I am hoping to podium at the European Age-group Standard championships (2021), and to qualify for the Elite Aquathlon championships (2021).
Who inspires you?
My Dad has had a big influence on my sport growing up. In 2009 he swum from Europe to Africa across the Straight of Gibraltar, and in 2012 he completed a charity 1000km long triathlon for Help for Heroes. I believe this has motivated me to get involved in sport and learn about my physical limits.
Why work with Sundried?
I am particularly excited to work with Sundried due to their investment into sustainability and zero waste. They have two clothing ranges designed from recycled materials including coffee grounds and plastic bottles. I believe this is a step that many clothing companies should adopt moving forwards, helping reduce and utilize our waste materials. Sundried are also supporting Surfers Against Sewage, a charity working on reducing coastal pollution around the UK. This is particularly motivating for me as the UK has many beaches that deserve protection, not least for future swimmers and surfers, but mostly to keep our coastal ecosystem intact and prevent further habitat degradation.
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