Athlete to Triathlete in 6 months

February 12, 2019

Jolinda Kemp, a young working mother had a goal to complete a triathlon, which lead her to having a bigger goal of completing an IRONMAN 70.3. We asked Jolinda to share her journey. 

A couple of years ago I was swept out to sea during a snorkelling expedition in Mozambique. I learnt two things on that day as I was being dragged out of the water

1.Doggy-paddle isn’t swimming

2.I could, in fact, not swim to save my life


Fast forward 9 years and I found myself joining the Embark triathlon program to train for the half ironman in East London – known as one of the most difficult 70.3 courses in the world. I have no idea how my fiancé convinced me that I could do it, but I remember thinking that if he (also a non-swimmer before starting with Embark) could do it, I should be able to as well.


Four friends and I nervously joined Embark in October 2018. So many thoughts ran through my head: Am I going to be the slowest person in the group? Am I going to fall off my bike riding up the Glen? Will I survive a non-wetsuit swim?  These questions were all answered throughout the course of the 14 weeks leading up to race day. Yes, sometimes I was too slow to join for breakfast after the ride. No, I didn’t fall off my bike going up the Glen. Yes, I did survive that swim. I was slow, but I survived.


The great thing about this group was that it was aimed at people with different strengths and abilities. There were those of us who could run or cycle, but couldn’t swim more than 25 metres non-stop. Others could swim, but needed more time in the saddle. We were all there, doing our thing, growing together and each fighting our own demons. The comradery was incredible! The encouragement from my team members and coaches were out of this world and sharing in everyone’s small victories on a daily basis made the journey so much sweeter. This experience wouldn’t have been the same without these incredible people who were always willing to listen, mentor and have a good laugh.


I found myself finishing the 70.3 race in East London with a smile on my face – along with the 75 other Embarkies who started the race that morning. We were so well prepared for this race that most of us were disappointed when the swim was shortened due to rough sea conditions and we took the strong winds in our stride. On occasion the words “never again” ran through my mind during a hard training session but here I am, getting up at 5 am to join the rest of my team mates for a canal swim in preparation for IRONMAN 70.3 Durban…

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