Fenella Langridge is one of the fastest swimmers in long distance triathlon but just because it’s her job to swim, bike, and run every day, doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play. “If you’re going into something with a negative mental attitude then you’re not going to get what you want out of it,” Langridge says. Finding positivity, even when things are’t going well, is why Langridge always maintains an element of play in her training.
Langridge always enjoyed the water. Growing up, when the family went on holiday, Langridge was always the fist in the water, at the pool or at the beach, and the last one out. “Once on holiday, I was in the sea so long my mum called the lifesavers,” Langridge remembers. “They announced my name, I walked out of the sea and was like ‘hi, I’m still here!’”. Body surfing, bodyboarding, and just playing in the waves, Langridge says she would spend all day in the water.
Nowadays, Langridge likes to be the first one out of the water. Her reputation for speedy swimming means she is in the water five days a week with a swim squad at the University of Bath in the UK. While swimming has become part of her job, Langridge says keeping it fun is how to “get the best out of yourself.”
The More the Merrier
The most important way to keep it fun is to swim with other people. Whether it’s a group in the open water, a club at the pool, or even just her partner, Langridge always swims with people. “Swimming with people makes the sessions more lighthearted and makes the sessions go a lot quicker and easier,” she says. It can also make you faster. “The people around you can push you,” Langridge says. “If you’re doing relays, you’re more likely to swim that second faster if you’re doing it for your teammate.”
Skill Building in a Safe Environment
Langridge says she doesn’t like to train in open water alone but she loves it with a group, especially for practicing skills like turning at buoys, diving starts, or swimming in a pack. “It’s quite fun to play around with it and change positions. If you’re on the left, learning how to roll over others and swim on the right,” Langridge says. Not only does training with a group in the open water help build physical skills but Langridge says it helps build confidence as well. “You learn not to feel intimidated by people hitting you, knowing they aren’t doing it on purpose, that they are just trying to swim as well.”
Langridge’s group takes training very seriously—she even chipped a tooth once practicing open water racing skills—but she says they also take the fun very seriously. “You do end up competing against [your training partners] but if you have the right person to train with, it’s not a negative thing. It’s not like they’re beating you or you get pissed off. You praise them if they’re having a good day and hopefully if you have a good session the next day it would be the same,” Langridge explains. “It’s highlighting the fun competitive rather than the negative competitive.”
All Work, All Play
Competing at such a high level means a lot of hard training day after day after day, so not every swim can be a good swim. When things aren’t going well, Langridge says she always remembers she’s lucky to call triathlon her job. “Most people don’t get to go play in the water for fun or for their job. For the age groupers, it is fun. Everyone else does it as a hobby and for enjoyment. It still feels like that for me so as long as I’ve got that element of enjoyment or fun or enthusiasm, you’ve got a long career in the sport."
Currently ranked 22nd in the world rankings, Langridge’s favorite goggles are the Pink Magic Mirror Gold.