Team Ladybugs, the father and daughter due of Stephan and Chloe Couture, have completed countless miles swimming, biking and running at events across the globe.
Stephan and Diane adopted Chloe when she was four and have always been keen to make sure that Chloe is as active as possible, never letting her Cerebral Palsy or visual impairment stop her from experiencing the thrill of a race.
Now 13, Chloe and Stephan have completed over 50 triathlons from local races to AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds! We caught up with them to hear about how they got into triathlon and some of the things they’ve learned along the way.
Disabilities don’t need to have boundaries
Don’t let your or your child’s disability hold you back, as there are so many ways to get involved. We first got involved in racing in 2011 after taking Chloe out on our bikes in the countryside where we live. She was really excited to be out and the faster we went, the more excited she became!
We wanted to get involved in triathlons, but it was the swim part that was holding us back, so we got in touch with a local open water centre and Titans Triathlon Club. They were able to lend as a sit on kayak for Chloe to lay on whilst I swam. With the help of the safety team we set off on our first swim together; Chloe’s smile was huge, and her excitement started us on our journey to where we are today.
Pick an event, start small and have fun
The first event we took part in was a 5km Santa Run in Stratford Upon Avon, and since then, we’ve gone on to complete marathons, sportives and triathlons with the help of local clubs. Make sure that you have realistic goals that motivate you to stay on track, as well as an overall event to target because this helps keep you going when it starts to get tough.
If you find one discipline hard, you can always try duathlons (run, bike, run), aquathlons (swim, run) or aquabikes (swim, bike) to overcome any physical or practical issues around participating in a certain discipline. Another option is a relay event, where you take on one of the swim, bike, run elements and get the buzz of being in a team.
The first relay we did was with Arctic One at Eton Dorney; it was a great experience because there were loads of people there to help anyone with any disability get involved with triathlon.
Get the right equipment
Due to the severity of her disability, we use a kayak for Chloe to lay on and have had adaptations made to her running chair to allow it to be towed from my bike and still used on the run, to help her take part. Depending on your disability, you may be able to have modifications safely made to equipment or use it unmodified to help you take part.
Clothing is also a really important consideration, because for us, Chloe is stationary throughout and therefore prone to being affected by the temperature. Making sure you have a well-fitted wetsuit is also really important, as well as comfortable and supportive trainers.
Find somebody to train with
We started training in and around our local area. It takes a lot of energy to push Chloe in her race chair, so we always do a little bit at a time and break longer runs into short stints by building in gentle runs. It’s really important for us to build rest periods into our training so that we don’t overdo it, building it up as we progress towards a race.
I’m lucky to be able to train and race every day with my daughter Chloe; she is the best training partner in the world. She’s my inspiration and knowing how much she enjoys getting out and about motivates me to keep going in rough weather and tough races.
The most important thing is to enjoy it! Chloe loves being out and about and lives for her racing. The social side of being around loads of different people, plus the action of the race, is a really exciting and sensory experience for her.
If you have a disability and are looking to get involved with triathlon, visit our ‘Getting into Paratriathlon’ page for more information. You can also use of Club Search and Event Search to help you find opportunities to take part near you.