Claire Cashmore: The Four-Time Paralympian Making a Splash in Triathlon
Date9th March 2018
To coincide with the week in which the world celebrated International Women’s Day, we spoke to GreaterSport ambassador Claire Cashmore, whose transition from a para-swimming to triathlon underlines the rewards women can reap when they strive to greater, unexplored heights.
“They say swimmers aren’t made for land because they’re like fish – they’re too soft.
“It’s kind of true – your bones are a lot softer and the risk of injury is a lot higher.”
Claire Cashmore is the first to paint a rather delicate picture of her latest chapter in her athletics career. The four-time Paralympic swimmer is enjoying her first full season as a para-triathlete, after calling time on a successful career in the pool which saw her become one of Britain’s most decorated Paralympians.
But Claire is happily challenging such a belief, in more ways than her Twitter bio – where she describes herself as one “dabbling” in triathlon – would suggest.
The 29-year-old, who decided to take up the three-discipline sport after adding a gold and a silver to her previous six Paralympic medals at the Rio 2016 Games, has already chalked up a string of impressive performances on the World Series, including a golden World Cup finish in Altafulla last summer, as well as two other top-six results.
For someone dabbling, it isn’t too shabby for Claire, who confirms her knees are adjusting better than she anticipated, considering they would often be in absolute agony when she went on runs as a swimmer.
Claire, quite literally, hit the ground running when she decided to pursue triathlon – and paid a small price for doing so.
“I had a little bit of a niggle after I tried to do too much too soon,” she admits.
“It’s about trying to manage how much you do and building it up slowly rather than jumping in at the deep end and feel invincible.”
But the former Didsbury resident, who based her training in Manchester for six years before relocating to Loughborough, is reaping the dividends on a personal level.
She concedes her mature approach to training is a far cry from the inexperienced 15-year-old who rocked up at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, where she still bagged a bronze medal.
“It’s exciting, just having that new challenge and that new stimulus to push yourself outside your comfort zone, which is what I don’t think we do enough as we get older,” says Claire.
“It’s very different, in terms of the culture. You are treated a lot more like an adult. I feel like I’m developing a lot more than when I was swimming.
“I just feel I’m a lot wiser than when I was that 15-year-old girl turning up to Athens like a rabbit in the headlights.
“It’s quite a challenge because I’m used to being able to control what I do. But I’ve also taken a lot of pressure off myself. I feel myself standing on that start line and feeling so much more chilled and relaxed.
“In the pool, you dive in and it’s whoever finishes at the wall who’s the winner. In triathlon, there’s an hour race and anything can happen in that time.
“You have a completely different mentality.”
And it’s that mature approach which may well see Claire make it to her fifth Paralympic Games in three years’ time.
“Tokyo is definitely the dream. To be able to go to my fifth Paralympic Games would be absolutely incredible.
“Obviously right now, it’s a long way off – in terms of my development I’ve got so much I need to learn.”
While she might feel she has a mountain to climb, Claire is scaling unexplored terrain. In her first full season as a registered triathlete, she lacks the ranking points to automatically qualify for World Series events later this summer, but remains upbeat about being able to compete at a few big events – with a possible showing at the European and World Championships on the horizon.
Squidgy, soft bones or not, Claire is already proving that she’s more than just a little fish in a big pond – for whom exciting things are already beginning to bubble beneath the surface.
Article written for GreaterSport by Fiona Tomas.