The start of every triathlon is carnage. There are limbs flying everywhere as the competitors jostle for position, but when all is said and done and they emerge the other side of the water, you’ll usually find Sophie Coldwell among the leading pack.
Known for being one of the strongest swimmers in the field, the 24-year-old has been a constant challenger at the front of the pack in recent years, with World Cup wins in Cagliari and Tiszaujvaros to her name in the past two seasons.
With the Olympic year now here, the Loughborough-based athlete is hoping to be part of the team that heads to Tokyo in July, but with the current crop of British triathlon talent, that is anything, but a given.
There is strength throughout the British women’s team, and Coldwell is well aware that even if she doesn’t make the cut, time is on her side.
“It’s the first time I’ve been involved in and around an Olympic cycle, I was quite young last time so didn’t go to the test event or anything,” she said.
“Last year I was fortunate enough to go to a test event in Tokyo and do all the heat preparation that was involved with that. It’s good to be in and around that.
“Whether I go to the Games this year or not, I’ve learned so much this year and whatever happens it’s good preparation for the next cycle and to gain experience going forward.”
Sitting at the top of the swimming charts after two Super League Triathlon stages this year, you could easily be fooled into thinking that Coldwell has always been such a whizz in the water.
The ability to get in front early is one of the strengths of her performances, but the Kent-born athlete is quick to confirm that hasn’t always been the case.
“I’ve been doing triathlon since I was about eight, when my mum saw a local event advertised,” said Coldwell, who will head to Australia for a British Triathlon training camp in the coming weeks.
“Back then I couldn’t even swim 50m front crawl, so I had to do one length front crawl and one length of backstroke.
“The first time I medalled at the Inter-Regional Championships was when I was in the 15-16 age group, it wasn’t like I was medalling at National Championships at the age of nine or ten.”
With events spreading far and wide across the world from Canada to China and Estonia to Australia, travelling has become a part of everyday life.
But Coldwell is never one to turn down a cuppa and a nap at home given the chance.
And as a lover of home comforts, it comes as no surprise that there is one event that sticks out in Coldwell’s mind when considering the season ahead.
“I’m used to it now. There’s a lot of packing and getting bikes into bike bags but you get into a routine of what you need to pack which makes it easier. I’m a sucker for a list as well,” she added.
“We’ve got two dogs at the moment, but we’ve been talking about maybe getting another one. I’m a patron for Spaniel Aid as well so I foster dogs for any length of time from five days all the way up to three months until they find a home.
“Leeds is so good because once you get into the town there’s so many people out there. The crowd will be three or four deep the whole way around, it’s so cool and everyone knows you because you’re British as well and they’re there to support us.”
British Triathlon are hosting the World Triathlon Series Leeds 2020 from 6 – 7 June. Tickets are now on sale and you can secure your place at the heart of the action by visiting https://www.millsqleeds.com/whats-on/all-shows/aj-bell-world-triathlon-leeds-2020/5536