A key worker’s story

This is Kevin’s journey from being a fairly sedentary young man to completing an Open water sprint triathlon on 23 June 2019, written by Kevin’s keyworker Roisin Donohoe

Kevin always seemed to be interested in sport, he went to a lot of football matches and supported his local GAA team but had not been involved actively in sport since he was in school. As his key worker I tried to find out what motivated Kevin and what his interests were so that we could look to developing meaningful outcomes for Kevin.

Man on the shore

Following a lot of discussion, planning and encouragement Kevin decided to aim for competing in a pool triathlon for beginners in Aura Leisure centre, 2015. Kevin began running with a group in the resource centre, started swimming more regularly and bought a second-hand racer bike. Competing in this pool try-a-tri was a massive achievement for Kevin, his parents attended the event and were obviously so proud of Kevin and how much he had achieved in a short space of time.

Roll on three years to 2018 and Kevin had competed in another pool try-a-tri and several 10km road races and was as fit as he had probably ever been. Kevin was eager to achieve a new goal and decided to attempt an open water sprint triathlon. We researched training plans and suitable races together and Kevin decided he would like to compete in Longford triathlon club’s Tarmonator Triathlon in June 2019. They had a 200m swim option for beginners which appealed to Kevin as he had never swam in open water before. Training proper began in early 2019, I sat down with Kevin and we put together a training plan to suit Kevin’s work and life commitments.

It wasn’t always easy for Kevin to stick with his training plans and he sometimes missed sessions due to other commitments but on the whole Kevin kept training, especially in running and swimming. I went out on the bike with Kevin a couple of times to get him used to the gears and getting in and out of his bike pedals and the week before the event I met Kevin and his Dad in Tarmonbarry where the event would be taking place to practise some swimming in the open water.

It took Kevin a while to get used to the cold water, the restriction of his new wet suit and the sensation of putting his head into the water and not being able to see anything. Once Kevin had completed this session he felt a lot more confident. The next step was for him to enter the race, discuss transport to the race venue and put together a list of what he needed to bring on the day, wetsuit, trisuit, goggles, bike shoes, bike, runners, towel and his triathlon Ireland card. Once all this was sorted it was a matter of Kevin relaxing and waiting for race day to arrive.

On the morning of the race I met Kevin at registration, he seemed nervous and apprehensive about what lay ahead but I also sensed excitement brewing. I helped Kevin bring his gear to transition and we set up his bike and gear so he was race ready.  I also spent some time with Kevin encouraging him to stay calm in the water, not to panic if everyone seems to take off really quickly, do his own race, take his time clipping into your pedals on the bike and most of all I encouraged him to soak up the atmosphere and try and enjoy the experience as much as he could.

Kevin listened to the race briefing from the race director and following this he was directed into the water for race start. Kevin felt the swim was tough but he got through it and into transition to take off his wetsuit and get ready for the bike.

The spectators at the event cheered everyone on enthusiastically despite the rain starting to fall. Kevin enjoyed the bike as it was flat with no big hills to contend with. He appreciated all the marshals who ensured that he kept on the right track and didn’t go off course. Kevin cycled the 20km route which led him back to transition once again to get ready for the 5km run. This is Kevin’s strongest discipline and he ran brilliantly to have a really strong finish. Kevin’s dad was at the finish line waiting for him to arrive and he witnessed him cross the line in a great time of 1 hour 33 minutes for a 200 meter swim, a 20km bike and a 5km run.

All the staff and service users at RehabCare Ballinamore, Kevin’s family and Kevin himself were all so proud of his immense achievement.

Kevin’s family have commented on how much Kevin has changed over the last number of years since he started exercising more and competing in runs and triathlon events, They feel his confidence has grown so much and he is in a much better place both physically and mentally.

Kevin would like to thank everyone who supported and encouraged him throughout this journey, it means so much to him that so many people believed in him and believed he could achieve this outcome.