Lauren Steadman is eyeing success on two fronts in 2014 as she continues to juggle an international para-triathlon career with her university studies.
The talented 21-year-old’s represented GB at two consecutive Paralympic Games in swimming, but has made the decision to tackle triathlon ahead of Rio 2016.
On Saturday Steadman was putting in the hard graft at the Hampshire Cross Country Championship to help make her dreams a reality.
A 49th-place finish in the senior women’s race, in a time of 38min 6sec, proved a good outing.
But Steadman conceded the result itself was insignificant.
‘That was a tough race,’ she admitted.
‘I’d loved to have raced a bit faster and harder.
‘But, for me, the event was just about getting some strength back into my legs.
‘And with it being such a wet and cold day, I’m quite pleased, actually.’
Having endured an unwelcoming start to the new year, Steadman insisted she’s not tempted to retreat to the relative warmth of an indoor pool.
She said: ‘I still love my swimming – if anything, it’s the one that’s most natural to me.
‘But I think I had enough of counting tiles.
‘I love track as well, so having this as a new challenge is definitely the way forward.’
For the time being, though, Steadman is putting her psychology degree at University of Portsmouth first.
She explained: ‘I’m hoping to go on and do a masters – but if I don’t put everything into this last year as an undergraduate, then I might not be able to.
‘That in turn might affect all of my training, so it’s about prioritising.
‘This year is for uni, the years after are going to be for Rio.’
Steadman has accepted her philosophy may come at a short-term cost on the athletics front – with her Alanya, Turkey 2013 European Triathlon Union (ETU) title in jeopardy.
She revealed: ‘I’ve got Europeans in Kitzbuehel (Austria) in June.
‘I’d love to say I’m going to retain my title as European champion.
‘I’ll have finished uni and probably have about four weeks to do some solid training.
‘But is that enough to take a European title? I’m not sure.’