INTRODUCING THE TRIATHLETE

Jimmy Grodzki, 23, on how swimming caught his imagination, why he loves triathlons and the difficulty of overcoming a health issue, with success, during a competition.

Photography by Marcus Gaab
Words by Samuel Bakowski

I was born in Berlin but I have a close-affinity to Munich. My step-sister and her husband live there with their children, so I have always travelled down several times a year with my mother. I really love that city. It’s like a home from home to me.

I like mornings. I wouldn't necessarily go as far as saying I love mornings, but after I manage to boot up my system like a computer, I am so much more productive than if I rise later in the day.

I have always loved doing sport. My earliest memory is scraping my knee in kindergarten. I think I was around three or four years’ old.

All sport interests me.  When you are living in a boarding school with people all of a similar age, all doing different kinds of sports, and all equally passionate about them, that affection rubs off. It has opened my eyes to so many different disciplines.

Swimming was the first sport to capture my imagination. Although some swimming training can be quite monotonous, it remains a very beautiful and elegant sport to me. There is something about swimming underwater - it makes me think of those space stations. You can just let go and float around!

There is something about swimming underwater - it makes me think of those space stations. You can just let go and float around!

I have always prefered swimming outside in a lake than in a pool. A lake provides so many more challenges and you need to watch out for different obstacles, like boats. I like that ruggedness - you don’t get that confined to a swimming lane.

My first triathlon was in the Berlin Cup Series. Unfortunately my memory doesn’t serve me well enough to tell you when or where that was!

My proudest moment as a triathlete was finishing fourth in the Northern German Championship. Even though I suffered an asthma attack when I made the transition from water to bicycle - that lasted until I finished the race - I still rate that higher than all the cups and triathlons I have won combined! That race also led to my selection for the Neubrandenburg and Potsdam Olympic Centre.

Sport has taught me a great deal. You need discipline to achieve any goal you pursue.

I love the variety of triathlons. You have so many different ways to train so it never gets boring!

It was not just one but a series of injuries that forced me to leave the Olympic centre. During my last year I had problems with my back, my shoulder, then my calves and even my feet. When you’re young, it is so frustrating to not be able to do the sport you love. It was a tough time and it felt like I never fully trained to my full potential - as if I was constantly handicapped. This briefly took the fun out of the sport for me  I never want to lose that sense of fun again. After leaving the Olympic centre, I took some time off to allow my body to fully recover. When I rode my bicycle for the first time after that difficult period I felt utterly happy! That’s remained my focus. To never lose that sense of fun despite still wanting to push my body to its absolute limit!

Sport has taught me a great deal. You need discipline to achieve any goal you pursue. You also need to think and remain focussed, step by step. Those moments when you feel the worst or want to quit will arrive, but you need to stay positive and you will recover and get back on track.

I am running the Berlin marathon this year. It is a marathon I have always dreamed of competing in, what with it being in my home city and memories of cheering on the athletes when I was younger. I am so excited to be running it this year with my friend, but equally terrified as it will be my maiden marathon!

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