Students preparing to ‘Tri’ their mind and their bodies

The six GMIT students who are undertaking the sprint triathlon: Rachel Maloney, Adam Curry, Wesley Williams, Niamh Jones, Mark O'Brien, and Stephanie Deegan.
The six GMIT students who are undertaking the sprint triathlon: Rachel Maloney, Adam Curry, Wesley Williams, Niamh Jones, Mark O'Brien, and Stephanie Deegan.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

One of the most remarkable sporting ventures to take part in the West of Ireland is currently cranking up another gear, as six GMIT students, with little or no sporting background, prepare to undertake their first triathlon this May in an effort to highlight the importance of personal wellbeing.

It is a hugely ambitious project, but given it is being spearheaded by a lady who does not believe in limitations, you can be sure it will be a success. That lady is GMIT lecturer, Lynne O’Loughlin, and her ‘can do’ attitude when it comes to these matters is to be admired.

For in addition to her work in design and digital media at the Galway college, O’Loughlin is also a mother of two-year-old triplets – Kitty, Jonah and Harrison – and a tri-athlete in training for a half-Ironman (2km swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run) in Spain this Summer.

Yet, despite her other commitments, she notes this venture is something that she felt needed to happen.

“I suppose, these are very scary times. Ireland has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe and, definitely, there is a problem there because I think students are suffering more from anxieties and different mental health issues,” she begins.

“Some of that can be down to social media, but I think a lot of it comes down to their lifestyles. We wanted to try and help with that. I am very active in Galway Triathlon Club, and I do a lot of that myself, so I thought that triathlon was a good avenue to start this from.”

O’Loughlin, who is based in GMIT’s Centre for Creative Arts and Media (the former Redemptorist Monastery on Monivea Road), explains the formation of a Culture & Wellbeing Society in the college was also pivotal to the project.

“We wanted to set up something that would bring more of a community atmosphere into the building. As part of that, we came up with this idea. We have already had different events but this event we are looking at now is called ‘Tri Your Mind’.

“We wanted an event that would take an active interest in promoting mental health and wellbeing among the student body, particularly those who were coming from a very low training range and had developed bad habits and diets.”

Expressions of interest were subsequently sought among the student population in an effort to ascertain who would be willing to take on a sprint triathlon – 750 metre swim, 20km bike and 5km run – at Lough Cutra Castle (Gort) in late May. O’Loughlin says the response was hugely encouraging.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.