INVERMERE, B.C. – Sarah Freeman’s jets were turned up to max in the final lap of the Heart of the Rockies Open Water Swim.
With one kilometre left in the 5 km race, the Canmore triathlete-turned-swimmer chased down top spot and pulled ahead by more than four minutes in the women’s race to claim gold on July 10 in Invermere, British Columbia.
“I just put my head down and build throughout it,” said Freeman. “So on the longer swims, it’s not about hammering it out, it’s about building that pace over time or just becoming consistent in that.”
The swim was part of the 2022 Heart of the Rockies Multisport Festival, featuring triathlon, duathlon, and gran fondo on the border of Alberta and B.C.
Swimming five laps in Lake Windermere, the strategic athlete held back early on and stayed kicking with the group.
“I am a strong swimmer, but I choose not to put myself at the front, I actually don't enjoy it,” said Freeman. “I always put myself on the side, in the middle where I feel comfortable and then I work my way into it.”
After the fourth lap, a big time difference was growing between Freeman and Jenni de Werk of Sparwood and the rest of the pack. But when Freeman made her move on de Werk, there was nothing stopping her.
“I was able to sustain a strong pace the whole time and then passing someone on the last lap and pick it up and bring it home,” said Freeman.
Freeman crossed the finish line in 1:31:10.5, and de Werk was in second in 1:35:34.5.
Banff’s Amber Wanless took bronze (1:46:24.4) and Canmore's Emilie Goulet was fifth (1:58:15.7).
A lover of outdoor endurance races, Freeman started in triathlon and switched to swimming a few years. She operates Fearless Warrior swim coaching, and is coached herself by Canmore’s Jordan Bryden, a professional triathlete and national champion.
With consistency in her training, Freeman is getting warmed up for her next big race in August, the Skaha Lake Ultra Swim, just under 12 km in Penticton, B.C.
“It definitely motivates you keep going and really believe in your training,” she said.