Ironman champ dives into degree at USC

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Ironman champ dives into degree at USC

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Published on 21 March 2012

21 March 2012

How did Queensland’s newest Ironman Champion Ali Day recover after beating some of the biggest names in surf lifesaving in rough surf conditions on the Gold Coast on Sunday?

He was up before dawn on Monday for swimming training and a gym session, then settled into a workout for his mind by hitting the textbooks.

Day, 21, started a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast in February and is finding the academic rigour to be a good counterbalance to his demanding surf lifesaving commitments.

The Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club competitor carved his name into the sport’s history books this year after finishing second behind Caine Eckstein of Kurrawa in the elite Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.

Day’s consistency throughout the series saw him hold first place for several weeks.

He then claimed three gold medals at the Queensland State Championships at Kurrawa last weekend, winning the prestigious Ironman Champion title with a determined sprint up the beach to hold off a fast-finishing Shannon Eckstein of Northcliffe.

Day is now focussing his attention on the Australian Surf Life Saving titles on the Gold Coast next week, but he’s still setting aside time for study.

He moved to Mooloolaba from Kiama in NSW last September and, on the advice of his coach Michael King and other mentors, applied to study at USC this year.

“You just can’t think Ironman 24/7,” he said. “Studying is another outlet for me, rather than just living and breathing my sport. It gives me a chance not to think about racing all the time.”

Day said his move to Mooloolaba, where he has a full-time coach and can reach the beach, the pool and the gym within minutes, had made his life a lot easier.

“I just thought with my spare time, why not get a leg up on life by studying,” he said, describing his sport science degree as a great way to prepare for a career as a swimming and surf lifesaving coach.

Day said some of the skills that could be transferred from Ironman competition to study included being well-organised and disciplined.

“I’m a pretty organised guy,” he said. “You have to balance the training with rest, along with sponsorship launches, travelling and racing and returning all the phone calls and emails.

“There’s no substitute for hard work, and that’s the same for studying as for training. You’re not going to pass at uni by not doing the hard work.”

In other sporting news, USC Bachelor of Communication student Tessa Wallace last night gained selection in the Australian swimming team for the 2012 London Olympics by winning the 200m breaststroke final at the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide.

It was an emotional victory for Wallace who has overcome a serious knee injury.

— Terry Walsh

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