Former South West Rocks resident, Finn Askew, has his sights set firmly on a top 10 finish after completing the first three rounds of the 2020/21 Ironman series over the weekend.
Askew cut his teeth and learned the basics of surf life saving at Tacking Point Surf Life Saving Club in Port Macquarie before he made the permanent move north of the border.
Experienced campaigner Ali Day placed first overall after the first three rounds of the Ironman series while Askew finished in 12th.
The first round endurosurf saw Askew finish in 13th while the Super Sprint saw him climb up the ranks, to finish in eighth spot.
Unfortunately Askew ran 18th in the round three survival format after a tough run.
"I got a bit unlucky on the final round and it wasn't an ideal finish but I'm just focusing on being in the moment and worrying about what I can control to have the best possible race," he said.
"My goal is to finish in the top 10 so I can automatically qualify for next year."
This year's competition marks Askew's first Nutri-Grain Ironman series and he couldn't be happier with the experience.
"It's awesome, lining up against the people you've idolised for years and giving the younger generation something to aspire to," he said.
"I've had so many people message me about their kids wanting to get into the sport after watching the series on television.
"I'm loving being a part of it."
The next three rounds will kick off on February 26 with plenty of hard work scheduled over the break with Askew to compete in the Shaw and Partners Shannon Eckstein Ironman Classic this weekend.
"Along with the Classic there'll be plenty of maintenance to do while continuing to stay on top of my health," he explained.
"I'll have about 3 or 4 swims a week, an iron session, massages and chiropractic work to keep my body in good working order along with plenty of rest and relaxation."
The man who sits on top of the leaderboard, Ali Day, marked a special return to the competition after missing out in 2019.
After having multiple screws and metal plates inserted surgically in both arms, Day faced the real prospect of his surf lifesaving career being over.
It was a struggle that Day admits took its toll on him mentally.
"It's probably pretty easy to look back on now and and sort of be like, 'oh it wasn't that bad' but I know ... I was in obviously a really bad way over that summer period when the Ironman series was on," Day told AAP.
"I was pretty depressed, to be honest, and I wasn't probably a very good person to sort of be around.
"Obviously had some really hard days there, some really dark times, but I was lucky enough to have some really good people around me."
With Askew living in Surfers Paradise he has the opportunity to learn off fellow resident Day and credits his tutelage for being able to reach the heights he has.
"Leading into the competition he was giving me insights on how the course runs and helped with my training," Askew said.
"He's played a crucial part in my development."
Round 4 of the 20/21 Nutri-Grain Series will be held on 26 Feb and Askew can be watched live and free on Channel 9GO! from 12pm AEDT.
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