AFL star poised for triathlon transition
Photo Source: AAP
A familiar voice will growl inside Beau Water's head when the former AFL star inevitably struggles during the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon.
A year after ending his football career, the West Coast hard man will be among about 2300 competitors in triathlon's most famous race.
The day-long world championship event on Sunday (AEDT) is a brutal endurance test and no triathlete makes it through the race without going through a rough patch.
Enter Waters' memories of Phil Walsh, the much-admired AFL coach who died last year in horrific circumstances.
Waters became emotional when discussing Walsh's profound influence on him, but also laughed when asked what his old assistant coach might say during the Ironman.
"You probably won't be able to put this in the article, but I know what he'd be saying - something like 'drink a glass of concrete', with a few more expletives in there," Waters told AAP.
Walsh took a keen interest in the players he coached and would always emphasise the importance of developing themselves as people.
He and Waters went to Busselton in Western Australia to watch former Port Adelaide player Michael Wilson make his Ironman triathlon debut.
Last year, after several attempts, Wilson also finished Hawaii.
"Me getting into the Ironman scene very quickly, a part of that was to hang out with (wife) Hannah," Waters said.
"Then to quality, a part of me would have loved to get a text from Walshy - I think about him a lot."
Waters the footballer has made an outstanding transition into long-course triathlon.
He left the AFL early last year because of a chronic shoulder injury which still restricts his swimming.
But in June he finished sixth in the 30-35 age group at Cairns - his second Ironman-distance triathlon - to qualify for Kona.
While it helps that Hannah is a five-time Ironman finisher, Waters clearly has ability.
Waters said there were many differences between AFL and triathlon - the former was a career, the latter nothing more than a serious hobby.
But certainly there are similarities.
"You need to have a mindset that you want to get better," he said of the two sports.
"You need to really throw yourself into it to improve.
"Whether it's footy or triathlon, you can't just get through on a day-to-day basis and expect to be able to compete at a level that I would like."
Waters will be among a strong Australian contingent at Hawaii in the professional and age group categories.
Hannah and several family and friends are also in Kona to watch him race.
Another prominent age grouper and fellow first-timer is Turia Pitt, who suffered terrible burns five years ago.
Pitt's wounds mean she needs special clothing to deal with the severe Hawaiian heat and humidity.
The race is a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run, which often features severe winds during the bike section.
Three-time champion Mirinda Carfrae, first-timer Melissa Hauschilt, Luke McKenzie, Tim Reed and Tim Van Berkel are the main Australians pros.