Team Briefing: Manhattan journalist and Ironman make “ultimate father-daughter swimrun duo”

May 3, 2018

Team Briefing is a new Swimrun Life Mag column that shares unique and fun backstories of how swimrun teams came together. We start with Colby Wilson, 28, and her 67-year-old dad.

Colby Wilson, 28, and her 67-year-old dad, Ken, live in different worlds. She’s a TV journalist working and living in Manhattan and he’s a self-employed Ironman triathlete originally from Columbus, Georgia.

Ken, who now lives on Jersey Shore, NJ, took up swimrun in 2016 but a bike crash would delay his debut at Casco Bay Swimrun until 2017, when he competed in the ÖTILLÖ Merit Race with his daughter as #TeamWilson.

With pure dedication, every weekend Colby makes the 280-km trek home to Jersey Shore to train with dad Ken “whether it’s for a tri, marathon or swimrun event”.

“We live near a few peninsulas with plenty of lakes, bays and the ocean, so we swimrun all the way from our door to the northern most point of Jersey Shore, Sandy Hook, a skinny little 10-km beach where you can swim on the Atlantic Ocean side or the river side, which has a more historic vibe with its old fort.” says Colby.

Colby and her dad, who create “some awesome courses for our training” are in the river as soon as it thaws. “When the water temp climbs to 12°C (53°F), we are in it training!”

All of their swims are tidal which adds a challenging current while the runs are mostly on trails loaded with hills.

“People see us running down the main road in our town at 4am in bright orange wetsuits, pullbuoy, paddles and swim caps and they think we are crazy!” she laughs.

We have recruited several friends that now join us for our 4 am swimrun Sunday training. Our crew is growing and we look forward to one day having a race in our backyard.”

Ken also organises a free weekly triathlon – 1.6k ocean swim, 34k bike, 5k run – on Sandy Hook called Hump Day Tri.

The “ultimate father-daughter duo” are participating in the Casco Bay Swimrun again this year and then Swimrun USA’s inaugural second event, San Juan Island Swimrun in Washington, on September 23.

“My favourite swimrun memory is from Casco Bay. During the long swim, I looked up and I was less than 2 metres away from a seal who’d popped her head up. I’d swam along dolphins a few times during our sunrise ocean swims but never a seal. It was so cool.”

Colby adds that training with her dad … “is awesome. He is my hero, my inspiration, my best friend and biggest fan, too. Family is everything to us. I love that we get to challenge ourselves and experience these beautiful courses together. My mom and brother and never too far away, always cheering us on.

“The best part is always the post-race or post-workout beers – because he’s my dad, so you know, he’s always going to pick up the tab!”

Nancy Heslin

Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #7 (May 2018)

More magazine articles

How one team uses swimrun to combat MS stereotypes

Patric Tengblad was recently diagnosed with MS, a neurological disease that affects 2.3 million people worldwide. For the 2019 swimrun season he will pair up with newcomer to the sport Dr Fredrik Piehl as Team Combat MS.

The accidental triathlete takes on swimrun

12-time Ironman Champion Lucy Gossage is swapping her podium position for a year of different races in different places, and that includes her first swimrun at Isles of Scilly.

Our 2019 challenge: bring a friend

Swimrun continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Not only has the sport crossed over to the endurance community but new brands, new athletes and new races (and on non-frozen continents!) are coming on board. Look for our new 5-7k Experience distance and the possibility to race Solo.

Swimrun’s ARK of success

The 2017 ÖTILLÖ Swimrun World Championship was one for the history books. Against all odds, including disorientating waves and relentless winds that toyed with racers throughout the day, a new sub-8 hours course record was set. Off the course, the buzz was all about the new ARK wetsuit prototype worn by two of the first-place teams.

International partners
  • Vivo Barefoot
  • ARK Swimrun
  • Mr Green