One of the most competitive swimmers in long-distance triathlon, British athlete Fenella Langridge says her goal is always to “be first out of the water.” Surprisingly, Langridge doesn’t come from a high-performance swim background, but the self-proclaimed water baby is not afraid to set the pace and lead out a race. Growing up, Langridge was a member of her local swim club and her coach told her she could do a lot more if she committed to swimming. “At that point, I wanted to play hockey, go to gymnastics with my friends, and I had school. I never saw swimming as a profession or something to focus on,” she says. That all changed when she discovered triathlon and went to university. “I was a bit older. I understood that swimming was something I wanted to get better at, and I really did commit to it,” Langridge explains. Swimming went from being completely social to having “purpose and intent” for Langridge and, although she understood the basics, she felt like she had to learn how to swim all over again. With guidance from the university coach, Langridge explains how she relearned to hold a good body position, how to move her hands, and what propulsion felt like. “We did a lot of filming in sessions. I could see where my hands were and it was those visual cues that helped me understand how to swim better,” she says. “There were quite a few frustrating times at the beginning when you’re going one step forward and two steps back but, once you overcome that, it’s quite a nice feeling in the water. I’m probably one of the fastest swimmers in the field so you definitely leap forward.”
Langridge’s leap forward pushed her to pursue triathlon full time. “You realize you’re swimming at a level that could put you in contention with the front of the race. That was exciting— when you see yourself coming in and going off times you never thought you could before,” Langridge says. After racing short distance for a while and even qualifying to race ITU world cup races, Langridge moved to long-distance racing in 2018. She quickly found success with five podium finishes in her first season, including a win at Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh. Her success in middle distance racing continued and didn’t stop when she moved into full ironman-distance competition in 2021. Langridge claimed 3rd at Challenge Roth and 2nd at Ironman Coeur d’Alene, leading the swim out in both races.
Unlike Langridge, swimmers of her caliber typically come from highly competitive swimming backgrounds. Lining up against women who have competed nationally or internationally in swimming, however, doesn’t deter Langridge from aiming to be first out of the water or having ambitions to be at the front of the swim at the upcoming Ironman world championship in May. With seven seasons of professional racing under her belt, Langridge has an earned confidence that will be exciting to watch amidst the best in the world. “I know what I’m capable of and if I turn up and do my best, I can be at the pointy end of the race.”
Langridge’s favorite goggles? The Pink Magic Mirror Gold goggles. but she always has a pair of Clear Magic goggles for races or open water swims when the weather conditions are a bit darker.