Liz Pluimers Wins Australian 2014/15 Nutrigrain Ironwoman Series
Over the last 3 months Australia’s fittest beach athletes have competed in the Nutrigrain Ironwoman Series. This season saw the series which traditionally ran over 6-8 weekends over the course of the Summer at all different locations, condensed into 3 locations Smith’s Beach, South Australia, Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland and Newcastle Beach, New South Wales.
Elizabeth “Liz” Pluimers managed an incredible season winning every event but round 4. She lead from the front and pushed through to hold up 5 top podium finishes and swoop the 2014/15 Title.
The final 2 events held at Newcastle beach drew large crowds for both Saturday and Sunday which created a fantastic atmosphere to round off the series and pump up the girls. Despite the swell remaining small there pressure couldn’t have been more intense on the beach and in the water. At the end of the final event on Sunday Liz lead the final point score by 20 in front of Rebecca Creedy and Harriet Brown with our Jordie Mercer securing her 2015/16 requalification in 14th place.
The Ironwoman events consist of a 3 disciplines; Surf Swim, Racing Board and Surf Ski with short runs to link the transitions. An Ironwoman needs to excel in all the disciplines to even think about taking on the best of the best. Each Ironwoman is part of a Surf Life Saving club in Australia and completes over 20 hours of voluntary beach patrols per season to qualify to take part in competition. There are club, branch, state and national levels of competition that are run between September and April each year.
In 2014/15 Liz Pluimers has been on the mark every single event, backing up over the gruelling 2 day event format for 3 weekends. Liz, unlike most nippers (junior life savers) didn’t grow up on the coast playing on the beach every day. Born and raised in Warwick, west of the Gold Coast , Liz got her first taste for life saving competition when her family moved to the coast when she was 9. It wasn’t until she was 18 that she started winning races and put her athleticism into full throttle.
What makes a Champion Ironwoman? Meet Liz Pluimers…
A day in the life of Liz Pluimers
Congratulations on your series win Liz! You were so consistent over the season, what did you put into it this year in pre-season to be so on top of it all?
Thank you! I’m not sure I did anything specifically different from last year. I felt I was going just as well last season but things just went my way this year. Surf can be like that. I guess having the back ground fitness from the Coolangatta Gold really helped with being able to back up.
What do you think of the shorter season and condensed events?
I think it depends on how you’re going. If you’re in form and are going well then it’s a bit like you can build up some momentum and it’s easier to maintain it over the shorter period. It’s also nice to be able to relax now it’s all over. The stress and pressure is off and now we can all re-build for the Aussies at the end of the season. To maintain that focus over a longer period really takes it out of you mentally.
Having said that though this shorter condensed format definitely makes it hard to recover from race to race. You have one round on a Saturday but you can’t just sit back and relax and enjoy it after as you have to refocus, recover and get ready to go again the next day. The other downside generally I guess would be if you had an injury or illness just before or in the middle of the series – there wouldn’t be any time to recover and that could be worrying. That’s why I really had to look after the body with physio and massage and make sure I ready to go each round.
The only other downside is that it’s all over so quick – but we do now get to sit back and watch in all on TV on Channel 9 over the summer!
Is there anything that you would like to see in the series one day?
I really love the current formats and it was great to have some racing back on the Gold Coast this summer. But I’m pretty happy to go anywhere that gets a good crowd – that’s what really makes the atmosphere and being in the series so special.
The ocean is such a massive part of how the competition ends up on the day how do you prepare for top performance in both flat and big conditions?
I think in both types of conditions you have to be super fit. In the flat you just have to be able to keep slogging it out and fit enough to paddle to the beach if there are no waves. In the big surf you have to be able to make a break when you get a chance between sets after maybe being smashed for a few minutes – and that really takes it out of you. But for big surf, you definitely need to get out and train in the surf and work on your skills, which is a real positive of living and training on the Gold Coast – we get some solid swells on the open beaches here.
When actually racing, in either small and big surf, you always take the time to figure the beach out before starting. You really have to be able to pick the best spots to paddle out or back to the beach in and this can often decide your race.
Where has been the best place you’ve ridden a wave?
Good question. I think the best place for me would be right here at home at North Burleigh. Although I did get some good waves on Kuta Reef in Bali and few years ago! I certainly had some very cold waves surfing in December in Wales where my fiance comes from! I was still freezing with a 6mm steamer, boots, mits and a hood on.
What does a usual training week for a champion Ironwoman involve?
We usually swim 4 mornings a week in the pool with the Miami swim squad – usually around 6km. The afternoons are at the beach or lake, alternating between ski and board sessions. Then we fit running and ironman sessions in some mornings between swimming and work and then gym a few times a week after training at the beach in the evenings. The weekend is either racing or ironman sessions at the beach and yoga if we have time. Sometimes it’s difficult to fit all the sessions in as ironman racing involves so many different disciplines so it’s a real balancing act.
How does it feel to win your 2nd title and be the 2014/15 Ironwoman champion?
It’s unreal! Some seasons you do all the work and things just don’t go your way – that’s surf. But it can be really frustrating and all you can do is go back and keep working hard. So then for all the sacrifices and hard work to finally pay off makes it all the better. And I’m guess I’m not your typical ironwoman. I grew up in the country, I work as an accountant, I’m not really the marketers dream. This can make it difficult to attract sponsors and media so I really have to just let my racing do the talking. That makes this win all the sweeter as I think the results have spoken for me pretty well so far!
Are there any other events or goals you have for 2015?
I would really like to defend my Australian Ironwoman title in April on the Gold Coast. If I were able to get this one then I’d have all the major domestic titles in one season, something not done before. A bit of a triple crown I guess! But it’s not going to be easy. The Aussie title is so hard to win. It’s just one race and you really have to have the perfect game plan to get it. I’d been trying for 9 years before I won it last year so I’m not counting my chickens yet!
Liz is proudly supported by;