GLL Sport Foundation supporting London based athletes Lucy Charles and Reece Barclay
My fiancé Reece and I live just outside London where we work and train together. We both used to be elite level swimmers until 2 years ago; this was when we decided to make the spontaneous ‘transition’ to triathlon. GLL have supported Reece throughout his swimming career while he was swimming for Waltham Forest Gators. When I moved to London with Reece he suggested I apply too.
Our shift to triathlon has been a fantastic journey made easier the support from GLL. As elite level swimmers we had already mastered at least one of the three disciplines of tri, however we would not have been able to maintain that without access to our local GLL facility Chingford Leisure centre, and of course the magnificent facility at the no ordinary park 50m pool in Stratford. With the swim taken care of we turned the attention to the run. It took us a good few months to build up our running to a decent standard; we used the GLL facility and Walthamstow Pool and Track to help facilitate this process. Within a couple of months we had begun to see some noticeable improvement in our running. Cycling however, took quite a bit longer to develop. In fact, we were laughable in the beginning, staying upright was an achievement and let’s not mention clip in shoes. We are still not overly confident out on the road and that’s nearly two years on, swimmers are designed to go in straight lines! Having access to the watt bike facilities at Stratford really helped develop the muscular endurance of our leg muscles, at least we are good on straight roads, thanks GLL.
The first triathlon we signed up for was the full Ironman UK 2014; this consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. At the time of entering this neither of us owned a bike nor had ever competed in a multi-sport event. If you think we’re a bit mad, you’re probably right! However after 10 months of solid training and use of superb GLL facilities Reece and I made it to the start line of Ironman UK and indeed finished in the top 10. We had a great race, completing the challenge and getting a real buzz for endurance racing.
After Ironman UK 2014 Reece and I had just one target, return to Ironman UK and qualify for the World Championships in Kona Hawaii which is only achievable by winning your age group (18-24). This was a colossal challenge for both of us given that the winners were over an hour faster than us in 2014, even in Ironman terms that’s a big gap to make up.
“We cannot thank the GLL Sport Foundation enough for their ongoing support. Without your help we couldn’t have dreamt of reaching the level we have so quickly.”
Our first major success of 2015 came when we both qualified for the Half Ironman World Championships in Austria having won our age groups at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire in mid-June. This was a fantastic confidence boost leading into Ironman UK and it’s fair to say we both exceeded our expectations. We then went on to achieve our goal and qualify for the full Ironman World Championship after winning our age groups at Ironman UK 2015, both of us over 1 hour 20 mins faster than the previous year.
We both had some fantastic results nationally in the build-up and after Ironman UK 2015, winning several nation titles between us. However we didn’t know what to expect on a world stage. We used the facilities GLL provided every day in the build up to the 70.3 world championships, most of the lifeguards at the Chingford leisure centre know us well now, and their support is great.
‘We both knew we were in the shapes of our lives having trained solidly from October 2014, we were now in August 2015. It was our first World Championships for triathlon. Lucy lead from the start, swimming the second fastest time in the history of half Ironman, all the swimming at the London 2012 Olympic pool must have paid off! She then had a solid bike split and an even stronger run to the line where she became U25 World Champion by over 6 minutes. Reece had a smashing swim too and exited the water in 1st place in his age group. Unfortunately Reece had a nasty crash on the tricky decent section of the bike course due to a bike mechanical. However, Reece is extremely strong willed and managed to get up, brush off the dirt and solider on. He struggled on the run due to severe hip pain but managed to complete the race finishing 20th in the World.
After the World Championships in Austria we had exactly 6 weeks until our next World Championships in Hawaii. Once again we ramped up our training making use of our local GLL leisure centres. Reece was helped massively during this time as his was injured from his fall in Austria and was not able to run so he used the cross trainers at the Stratford gym as a replacement.
We set our targets for Hawaii based on our previous result. Lucy was going for the swim record and wanted to achieve her second World title. Reece wanted a solid swim and to show the World what he was really capable of.
The Ironman World Championships
Reece had a fantastic swim of 53 minutes giving him a great position to start the 112 mile bike leg. At the end of the bike section Reece was in 15th place going into the marathon. By this point many of his competitors were starting to flag in the heat. But not Reece, he looked stronger than ever and as each mile went by he was gaining on his competitors and moving up the positions. Reece went on to finish 5th in his age group in the world in a time of 9 hours and 50 minutes.
Lucy started her race proving that she is indeed the fastest female swimmer in the world, finishing the swim in 52 minutes, almost 3 minutes faster than the next female professional. There were only 2 men who swam faster than her and one of those went on to win overall. Like Austria, Lucy had a fantastic bike split finishing in in 5th place overall and 1st in her age category. It was just a matter of a 26.2 mile run to claim her second world title. She finished the race in first place and in a time of 10 hours and 20 minutes, blowing the field away by 30 minutes ahead of next competitor.
We are quickly becoming the young Iron couple of the triathlon world. We cannot thank the GLL Sport Foundation enough for their ongoing support. Without your help we couldn’t have dreamt of reaching the level we have so quickly. We are looking forward to another successful season in 2016 with the support GLL.