Q&A with Paralympian and now triathlete Claire Cashmore
In January 2017, Claire Cashmore was selected as part of a talent transfer programme to transition to the sport of Triathlon. Now that she’s been a triathlete for well over a year, we chat to her about how she has found the move.
Since we’ve chatted to you last, your career as a triathlete has gone from strength to strength. How hard has it been moving to a completely new sport?
It’s definitely been a big challenge. It’s really hard stepping out your comfort zone and doing something that you are not good at, but that challenge has given me great drive and determination to master the skills in a short period of time (Tokyo 2020).
In your first major international debut at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Rotterdam in 2017 you had a mishap on your bike. Have you found triathlons to be more dangerous than swimming?
100% I think the worst thing that happened to me in swimming was getting a black/cut eye when someone swimming fly hit me in the face (accidentally of course). Whereas in triathlon there are so many things that are out of your control, even the swim can be aggressive as you are swimming in pack. Worlds in Rotterdam really knocked my confidence but I think the biggest thing is learning not worry about the things that are out of your control and also might never happen.
How has your training scheduled changed now that you have moved from swimming to three different disciplines?
When I was a swimmer I did 9×2 hour sessions in the pool, 2 weight sessions and 2 core sessions. I had Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. As triathlon is an endurance event I am doing a lot more mileage and only have a day off every few weeks. A normal week consists of 4/5 swim sessions, 3 long rides, 1 turbo session, 3 runs and 2 gym sessions. I need to also restart yoga/Pilates at some point. I love the variety of triathlon training.
How is the challenge of open swimming compared to being in a pool?
It’s completely different. Firstly it sounds ridiculous but I find the open water quite scary, it’s so vast and you don’t know what is beneath you which my very imaginative mind has great fun with. There is also no black line to follow which can be quite disorientating. The stroke is also quite different to pool swimming.
Has your approach to nutrition and how you fuel your body changed now that your sport has altered?
Surprisingly I am actually more relaxed about it, I started to become a little bit obsessive when I was swimming which is not healthy. It’s really important to make sure that I am eating enough calories and fuelling in the correct way with the amount of training I am doing.
What have been your key moments since making the change?
Winning the silver medal, and beating the Paralympic Champion at the World Championships this year was a real highlight for me. It was the first race where I actually felt as if things were starting to come together.
Have you enjoyed the move to a new sport?
I have loved it. It’s been great to find that love for sport and training again. Towards the end of my swimming career I wasn’t really that happy, so it feels great to be myself again.
Have you had to build a new support network of team mates since moving into a new sport?
I still keep in contact with lots of my swimming friends, some of them have retired or moved on to other sports but it’s also been nice getting to know the other triathletes. It’s a great team environment to be part of.
One of your team mates Lauren Steadman is currently on Strictly. Previously when we chatted to you, you spoke about how you love to dance as a way to keep fit. Would you ever consider doing Strictly?
Yes I would love to, I love dancing, even if I am a rubbish dancer. I would definitely be voted off on the first week but it would still be great fun.
How do you spend your down-time outside of competing and training and what is your guilty pleasure?
Down time? What’s that? Haha only joking, although we don’t really have a huge amount of downtime. Spending time with my family and friends is really important to me, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can. I am also a huge foodie so going out for food, cooking new recipes is something myself and my partner Dave like to do.