Italians couldn’t help but be captivated by a German.
Crofton’s Janis German captured attention for her performance Sept. 18 as a member of Team Canada during the AquaticRunner Individual World Championship that began in Grado, Italy and concluded in Lignano Sabbiadoro.
As the name implies, you have to be proficient on land and sea with alternating legs of swimming and running making up the gruelling competition. German turned heads because she’s in remarkable shape at 66 years of age (soon to be 67 in November) to complete such a test of athleticism.
She was the oldest participant, first in her age group that came with the territory and 19th overall among the 27 women in the field.
“I beat some of the men,” German added. “I guess all my training I did paid off for me.
To be one of the eight Canadians entered, “I felt so honoured,” she confided. “It was a privilege and an opportunity. I was right place, right time.”
German qualified for the World Championship through one of the Mudskipper Swim Run Challenge races in Canada at Port Moody.
“I knew it was to qualify,” she indicated. “That didn’t enter my mind at all.
“Two weeks later comes this news to me ‘you’ve qualified.’”
German’s mindset then turned to preparing for the big event and giving it her best shot.
“Nothing could have prepared me for what this race was like,” she conceded. “I just do it. Whatever will be, will be.”
Part of her normal routine didn’t change in advance of the event, including swimming at Fuller Lake “every day,” German said. “I don’t miss. I kid you not.”
She also completed her second swim from Crofton to Salt Spring Island this summer as part of her training.
“Believe it or not, it was rougher than the year before, but I did it 10 minutes faster.”
The trip and the whole experience is something German will always treasure.
“I travelled all the way to Italy by myself,” she pointed out. “I was in Italy five days before. The people there are so nice.”
Even though German was on her own, she knew there was a big booster club behind her that provided motivation.
“I’ve got the best friends and wonderful family that support me in everything I do,” German said.
“I appreciate it all – the family, the friends. Everyone I know here in Crofton, they’re so supportive.”
The World Championship was unlike anything German had ever done with challenges that were way beyond the scope of regular competition.
“I’m just overwhelmed when I think back to what I did,” she said. “You just don’t realize how tough a race that is.
“Swimming in that ocean water is so different than swimming in the ocean here. You have absolutely zero visibility in the water. I could literally not see my face in the water.”
With the limited visibility, “all of a sudden this jellyfish was about four feet across,” noted German. “If you touch it, it’ll shoot away.”
Swimmers had to go over the top of them in some spots, but the presence of the jelly fish did create a danger. “One of the girls on our team, she got stung in the face,” said German.
Even running on the beach brought difficulties.
“If you were in the soft sand, you could not get your footing,” said German.
And then there’s turtles, waves, big piles of seaweed and all sorts of other interesting obstacles along the nine different sections of swimming and running of varying lengths.
“One of the swims, the last swim, was 1,300 metres. It was long and it was hard,” said German.
She estimates the entire course comprised about 6.2 kilometres of swimming and 23 km of running. Her completion time was five hours and 23 minutes.
“When I sit back and think, that was quite the race,” said German. “It was hard and so exciting. And to finish, I was so happy.
“When I crossed the finish line, I looked at my teammates, ‘what are we going to do now?’ I’ll find something.”
German’s best advice to people from her experiences? “Don’t give up, do what you can do and do your best.”