A Rising Star: Imogen Simmonds

We catch up with the young rising Swiss star Imogen Simmonds. After being crowned the 2016 IRONMAN 70.3 World Age Group Champion, she has recently finished her first pro season with an exciting win at IRONMAN 70.3 Phuket, along with multiple podiums to her name. 

Congratulations on your very impressive win at IRONMAN 70.3 Phuket to finish off your first year as a professional, how did it feel to raise the tape after such a performance?
Honestly, I didn’t expect to be the first one crossing the line. It was my third race in three weeks, which was more of an experiment to see if I could handle it, but I did and it seemed to finish well with two second places and pulling out a win! IM 70.3 Phuket was the last race I did as an age-grouper, so to come back this year and win at my semi-home race was really special to me.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing this year, am I right in saying you broke you collarbone and needed surgery back in February? How did you come back so strong and mentally stay focused during the injury?
No, it hasn’t all been entirely straightforward. I’ve had downs as well as the ups, including breaking my collarbone four days before my first 70.3 as a pro in Subic Bay, Philippines. I had to fly back home to Switzerland for surgery. It basically took out four months of racing for me right at the beginning of my pro career. It was hard mentally, particularly at the beginning but I was lucky to have an incredibly strong network around me at home, and a coach who 100% believed that I would be able to come back stronger. Physically, I had to re-shift my training as bike rides longer than two hours were intolerable and swimming wasn’t much of a workout, just half hour of seeing where my pain tolerance went up to. I ended up doing a half marathon a couple of months after the accident and cutting six minutes off my PB, which was a huge confidence boost and helped me keep focus.
What are your favourite things to do outside of training to relax and recover?
The great thing about Phuket is that there is a lot to do outside of training, and lots of people living similar lives and schedules who are fun to hang out with outside of training. There are great coffee shops here, and lots of opportunities to get a massage for recovery. Particularly before a race, I like to completely switch off mentally, and I can easily sit and watch a TV series from start to finish.
You seem to love training in Phuket – what are your tips for training and racing in the heat strong and successfully?
Phuket is great for training, although the heat can get draining particularly in the hot ‘dry’ season – it’s still extremely humid, just with less rainfall. You have to learn to read your body and the signs it gives you to tell you that it can’t cope, or is going to struggle to cope VERY soon. I’ve tried to ignore them before and it landed me in hospital. If you are going to race in the heat give yourself at least a week of adaptation, and I try to make sure I drink an absurd amount on the bike.
For someone who is starting out as a age grouper what is the best advice you can give them to achieve their goals and/or take the plunge and turn professional?
Firstly, make sure you know what your goals are and have a vision of where you want to be in the short as well as long term. Have a clear plan, but be prepared to change and adapt that plan as trust me, things will crop up. Be prepared to make sacrifices along the way; socially, financially and in your personal life.
Lastly, where can we expect to see you next year and how will it feel to be the one to beat?
I certainly wouldn’t consider myself as “the one to beat” yet, but I’m certainly hoping to build on this year through 2018. Again, I plan on racing in lots of different places and countries, starting the season in Asia and then making the most of Europe through the summer months; that’s one of the things I love most about this career.
Thanks Imo, and we will be keeping a close eye on you for what we are sure will be a very exciting 2018 – good luck.
Eloise Du Luart

Written by Eloise Du Luart

Eloise Du Luart is training as a full time triathlete aiming to get into the Pro middle distance ranks after a series of injuries that interrupted her 2015 and 2016 seasons. Eloise started triathlon in her first year of University in Autumn 2012. Within the first two years of triathlon she became both World AG Duathlon Champion and European AG Triathlon Champion which has led her to pursue her dream of becoming a professional athlete.