FYN, DENMARK — Atascadero’s Johnathan Dolan traveled to Denmark to compete in the 2018 World Aquathlon Championships and returned as a World Champion. The Aquathlon held two races, one for professionals and one divided into age groups, July 14-15. Dolan, being a high school junior, competed in the age groups.
The unique race is like a triathlon except it only features two events, running and swimming. Contestants in the Aquathlon must swim one kilometer (1,000 meters) in open water and run five kilometers (3.11 miles) to the finish line. Most times the event is split into a 2.5km run, 1km swim, 2.5km run, but this can change if the water temperature is low.
Dolan not only finished first in his age group (
“I had been doing some triathlons before this,” Dolan said. “But my weakest leg of the race was the bike, but I was pretty solid at the run and the swim.”
In 2015, Dolan competed in a race that only featured swimming and running in Santa Cruz and became hooked.
While this journey may have ended hundreds of miles away, much of the work and the passion for the sport began in Atascadero.
Dolan currently runs cross country and swims for the Greyhounds. As a sophomore last year, he ran with the varsity and was their second-best finisher at CIF finals in Riverside which is where the Hounds’ season ultimately ended. Dolan also swam with the varsity in swimming and is part of the young nucleus that has coach Alyx Truax excited about the next two years.
The Dolan family made their way to Denmark at the beginning of last week, but rather than cheer his son from the sideline, Jonathan's dad Dale also competed.
“I wasn’t really expecting to win,” Dolan said of the race. “I was just hoping I could do pretty well with my age group.”
The just recently turned junior began his race in the water and quickly discovered obstacles that don’t generally exist while training, Jellyfish. The swim portion of the race took place in the open water of the Little Belt Straight that had a high number of jellyfish floating through it on July 12.
“I wasn’t really scared but when I got there, there was more than I expected and I got stung in the face and the hands and the feet a little,” Dolan said. “It didn’t affect my race too much but it was kind of annoying.”
Emerging from the water with his face stinging Dolan began to run the final five kilometers of his race. After running about four kilometers, Dolan was shocked to see one of the fastest runners in the field just a handful of meters in front of him.
“I knew we were about the same speed so it was going to be hard,” Dolan said of when he first saw his competitor. “It was pretty tough mentally, but I really wanted to get him so I just stayed with him and in the last kilometer or so I gave it all I had and he couldn’t hold on.”
Dolan crossed the finish line just 7 seconds in front of the second-place finisher in his age group. A little while later, he found himself atop the podium with a gold medal swaying from his neck and a smile stretched from ear to ear.