My Story - Georgie Rutherford
I started swimming at the Dolphin Centre aged 5 years old and went on to join the swimming club where I fell in love with competing. I used the centre throughout my school years on an ad hoc basis. When I started University, I was selected to be a part of the British Triathlon performance team and so when I was home from University, I used the swimming pool and gym 5 times a week. I also worked as a summer sports coach for the councils leisure kids camps. Once I graduated and moved back home (2008) the Dolphin Centre was like my 2nd home - all the staff, from the centre management, to the lifeguards, to the gym staff have become great friends and have been incredible - always supporting my journey and encouraging me to train hard whilst advising me on the right equipment to use in the gym.
My early 20’s
I competed on the World Triathlon stage throughout my 20’s combining work with semi-professional racing. I won the World Half Ironman Championships in 2009 and many other amateur titles. None of this would have been possible without being able to consistently access great facilities to train.
In 2011 I moved away for 5 years to work on the London 2012 Olympic Games and other high profile sporting events in London and then in 2015 quit my job and became a full-time triathlete. I travelled the World racing on the triathlon circuit which I loved but whenever I came home to Darlington, I would always have the support of the Dolphin Centre team to maintain training. This support was more important than they would ever realise - motivating yourself to train is no easy feat and on the days where I felt like quitting, a friendly chat with a member of staff would often be all it took for me to feel motivated to keep going.
Challenges along the way
Sadly in 2016 I was hit by a car which resulted in a significant hip injury - I spent 18 months recovering - this involved many more hours in the Dolphin Centre gym and pool, and once again, the friendly and supportive team both on the pool side and the gym kept me going throughout this very hard time when my mental health plummeted. I came back fitter and stronger than ever and went on to win the World Oceanman Championships in Spain in 2017.
Since 2018 I have gone on to compete in more events such as the Embrunman Long distance triathlon in France and the World Otillo Championships in Sweden and the World Trail Running Champs in Hawaii - I did all my training to compete in these global events at the Dolphin Centre, once again being encouraged by all of the team.
In 2019 I started my own coaching and events business the ‘Long Run Collective’ which helps others achieve
their own health & fitness goals, such as learning to swim as an adult, completing their first Darlington 10km or first triathlon - a lot of my coaching has taken place in and around the Dolphin Centre and everyone loves using the facilities.
My health and personal struggles
In 2020 my own world was turned upside down not just because of Covid but I was diagnosed with Stage 2C Melanoma Skin Cancer - I had two operations to remove the lump and lymph nodes in my arm pit - thankfully the cancer had not spread but as a result of the surgery I went on to develop lymphoedema during the Covid lockdowns and lack of NHS services to monitor my recovery. This was a very painful and challenging time but once again, as soon as the DC opened I knew returning to gentle activity would help me. I am not back up to full speed (yet) and I still have big sporting goals so I am very thankful we have the opportunity to swim in such a fantastic pool and use the gym for both cardio and weight training - it has definitely helped my recovery. Movement and nutritious food really is the best medicine.
My greatest achievement
My sporting goals have been paused for the time being as in Feb 2023 I gave birth to our baby boy. Throughout my pregnancy I was fortunate to maintain a weekly routine using the gym and swimming pool - the training was adjusted throughout my pregnancy but once again, the reminder that movement always helps me feel better, both physically and mentally was there. Even when I don’t feel like coming, I always feel better afterwards and I now have less time available to train but 30mins is enough to help me stay fit and healthy as a new mum. I am looking forward to increasing my time back in the gym with a customised return to fitness S&C programme and in 2024 hope to be back competing.