Participants in Ironman 70.3 Singapore attend Swim Clinic

First-time participants in Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore attend open sea swim clinic sponsored by Aviva Ltd

50 participants attended an open-water training clinic held at East Coast Park today to prepare themselves for the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore triathlon on 21 March. In line with their belief that everyone should be prepared, title sponsor Aviva Ltd, a leading financial services provider, sponsored the clinic for 60 first-time participants in the race, to ensure that athletes familiarise themselves with the unpredictable conditions of the open sea before race day.

Close to 1,400 triathletes have signed up for the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore, the biggest Ironman 70.3 event outside USA, which will be held on 21 March at Playground @ Big Splash.

Led by David Lim from Yellowfish, the swim clinic gave participants the opportunity to acclimatize themselves to the open sea swim as they went on a 1.9km swim, simulating the actual race route on event day.

"In the sea, swimmers have to endure various natural elements like choppy water, strong currents and jellyfish. It is a totally different challenge, and water conditions can be very unpredictable so it is better for participants to be safe than sorry," said David, an experienced swim coach who has been an active triathlete since 2002.

Banker, Alvin Voon, 43, a first-time Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore participant who attended the clinic with his wife and children in tow, agrees, "In the pool we train for technique, but training in the sea prepares us for the real thing. It's a lot safer to attend these open sea swimming clinics before the event day. I think it's great that Aviva has sponsored the clinics for the first-time participants like me to help me better prepare for the race."

"Today's clinic was great practice for me in preparation for race day," says fund manager Sarah Tan, 44, who overcame her fear of water in order to participate in endurance races such as the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore. "I decided to come down today to give myself extra practice. I believe that these swim clinics are more important for first-timers as it helps them to prepare for the actual race day."

Director of Hi-Tri Singapore, Mr. Jeffery Foo, emphasised the importance of first-time participants attending the clinics, many of whom are new to the event's rigorous physical requirements.

"Open sea swimming is the most challenging component out of the three disciplines in a triathlon," he explained. "It is important that all triathletes, especially the first-timers, understand this."

"The swim clinic taught me to keep calm in the water, especially when you're surrounded by so many people at the start point. I have also learnt how to maintain my bearings because the current pushes you far away from where you should be," said swim clinic participant Herbin Chia, 39, a business manager who will also be taking part in his first Ironman 70.3 race.

The fourth installment of Singapore's more prestigious triathlon event is set to attract close to 1,400 participants on 21 March. Aviva Ltd, a leading financial services provider and title sponsor of the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore, announced last year its decision to renew its sponsorship of the event from 2010 - 2012.

According to Aviva's CEO Simon Newman, "Aviva is committed to sponsoring the Ironman 70.3 in Singapore for another three years because the event is aligned with our brand's vision of helping others to overcome the tough mental and physical challenges they might face in life."

"Just as we help prepare people for their journey in life, we want to help triathlon beginners prepare for their race too," explained Newman on the Company's move to organise a free open sea clinic.

This year, Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore participants will enjoy a race from one end of the island to the other, from East Coast Park to Pasir Panjang, while passing iconic landmarks like the Singapore Flyer, the Esplanade and the famous Marina Bay cityscape, towering skyscrapers in the business district, Vivocity Mall, Sentosa and Mount Faber.

The triathlon covers a total distance of 113.1km (70.3 miles), starting at the Playground @ Big Splash with the 1.9km swim leg. Participants will hop onto their bikes after that, and cycle for 90.1 km along the airport-bound direction of the East Coast Parkway towards the Keppel Flyover before U-turning near the Pasir Panjang Village. A minimum of two expressway lanes will be closed to form a dual direction cycling route.

The final leg of the Aviva 70.3 Ironman Singapore – the 21.1 km running leg – will take place along the East Coast beachfront. The shady run route will take participants through two loops from the Playground @ Big Splash towards the direction of the KPE and back towards Changi Airport.

The top five elite finishers from the Male and Female categories will share a prize pool of US$50,000, the biggest prize purse for a 70.3 Ironman race outside of the United States. Also up for grabs are 35 slots for the 2010 Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Florida.