New athletic accomplishment for naval officer

Left: Lt(N) Nico Lightbody competes in the 10-kilometre run portion of the CAF 2017 National Triathlon Championship, July 7, Gatineau, Que. Photo by Cpl Michael MacIsaac Right: Lightbody navigates his way through the 1.5-kilometre water course. Photo by Cpl Stuart Evans, DND

Left: Lt(N) Nico Lightbody competes in the 10-kilometre run portion of the CAF 2017 National Triathlon Championship, July 7, Gatineau, Que. Photo by Cpl Michael MacIsaac Right: Lightbody navigates his way through the 1.5-kilometre water course. Photo by Cpl Stuart Evans, DND

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

An accomplished competitive swimmer and distance runner has made the successful transition to triathlon.

Lieutenant (Navy) Nico Lightbody, a 25-year-old Ship Support Team Officer with Base Information Services, says he surprised everyone, including himself, with his second place finish in the Canadian Armed Forces 2017 National Triathlon Championship held July 7 in Gatineau, Que.

“The Nationals gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment and a confidence boost,” he says. But adds the last 200 meters of the race still stings. That’s because the winner of the race, Capt Phil Reynolds from CFB St-Jean, got across the finish line just three seconds ahead of him.

“Still, I was very surprised to finish second since I was racing against a bunch of people who had been doing this sport for much longer.”

A triathlon is one of the toughest tests of athletic endurance and stamina. It includes a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-km bike ride and 10-km run, and Lt(N) Lightbody says his success didn’t come by accident.

He has always exceled at swimming and recently captured a silver medal and five gold medals at the Canadian Armed Forces Swimming Nationals held March 24 to 27, 2017, in Unionville, Ont. On the pavement, he has proven himself a capable distance runner, capturing a top overall finish in his age category in the 2016 10-kilometre Navy Run.

His nearly seamless transition into triathlons continued in August. He was the top Canadian finisher in the Open Age Category at the CISM (International Military Sports Council) 19th World Military Triathlon Championship in in Warendorf, Germany, on Aug. 5. Lt(N) Lightbody finished 29th overall in a field of 74 triathletes representing 21 different countries.

“I was ecstatic with my finish and it really surpassed all my expectations,” he says. “We had a couple of Olympians in the field and the caliber was really quite good. I was also encouraged by the fact that I finished three minutes ahead of Capt Reynolds, who had beaten me in Ottawa.”

In order to properly prepare for the physically demanding competitions, Lt(N) Lightbody rose at 5 a.m. each morning and spent more than an hour either running, biking or swimming. That was followed by a similar session in the afternoon, while also augmenting with weight training twice weekly. He also found time to swim with the Navy Masters Swimming Club who meet three times per week.

“I also focus on eating a clean diet by eliminating meat and focusing on whole foods that are plant-based,” he says. “I’m constantly trying to maintain and improve the way my body is performing in competitions. Getting good sleep is also important, so I am normally in bed around 9 p.m.”

He notes the importance of starting the day off on “the right foot” and having a healthy work-lifestyle balance as crucial to his success, both in competition and at work.

Lt(N) Lightbody adds his chain of command has been very supportive of his fitness and competition goals since he began his military career in 2010.

He says that is allowing him to fully focus on his next competition: the Miami Ironman 70.3. Lt(N) Lightbody will be one of approximately 3,000 civilian and military personnel who converge on South Florida for the annual event.

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