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What’s the first thing that jumps into your mind when you hear the term Aqua Bike? As Australia’s representative for the World Triathlon Age Group Championships Aqua Bike event held in Abu Dhabi later this month, Carramar Maths Teacher Justine Brightwell can tell you it is not riding a bike under or over water.

The World Triathlon Age Group Championships includes multiple different events and Aqua Bike is a new one on the schedule. It is the first two legs of a triathlon: a 1500m swim and a 40km ride.

Ms Brightwell got into the sport of triathlon 13 years ago when her eldest child was one. Growing up as a long-distance runner, she decided to give a triathlon a go and quickly got addicted to the sport.

After competing in many triathlons over the years however, she started to experience problems with her hips and was diagnosed with arthritic hips. Getting to the point where she could not walk without pain, Ms Brightwell was told she would never run again and had both hips replaced.

Post hip surgery, she was able to exercise and more importantly cycle, which was a source of excitement as she had almost sold her bike assuming she would never use it again.

When the new Aqua Bike race event joined the triathlon scene last year it was perfect for individuals like her, who are no longer able to run long distances. The event was then added to the Triathlon World Championships, and she set herself a goal of trying to qualify for them, and achieved her aim.

It has been a long, cold winter and to prepare for her event Ms Brightwell has trained nearly every day. Her training schedule includes swimming, cycling, race simulations and a 100km ride every Sunday to complete her week.

Ms Brightwell is excited to represent Australia, wearing the green and gold in a sport she loves.

“It’s so great that the sport of triathlon has these opportunities for people like me,” she says.

When asked what advice she would give to someone interested in this form of racing Ms Brightwell says beware.

“It is very addictive…and expensive! It is lots of fun, and a great way to keep healthy and fit.”

We wish Justine all the best for her race this month and look forward to congratulating her on her return to Australia.