Kristie confronts her fear head-on in aquathon

When Kristie Calder hits the water for this morning's aquathon, she will conquer one of her biggest fears.

The 19-year-old is determined to show that anything is possible if you put your mind to it - and sometimes all you need is a little support.

"We all have our little fears," Ms Calder said.

"[My housemate and I] have a fear of open water. We've been building up our courage to get in there."

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Helping her to realise that goal is Elyse Stephens, an Anglicare Wollongong caseworker with a passion to build resilience among young Illawarra women.

The pair have completed weekly training sessions with Summit Fitness Studio in Towradgi over the past four months. Now they are prepared to tackle the short aquathon course, which involves a 400-metre swim and a 3-kilometre run.

"Having someone to do it with you makes it a whole lot easier - like [having] a support person to get you through," Ms Calder said.

"I didn't even want to do the aquathon when I first heard about it. Now I'm excited."

Three other young women have trained alongside them, and all are reaping physical as well as psychological benefits.

"It's great to see how far they've come ... [and] how their attitude has changed," Ms Stephens said.

She said it was the little things that made a big difference to people's lives and reflected on her teenage years.

"It was the older role models in my life that pulled me through.

"They've made a huge difference to who I am today.

'I know what [young people] are going through and want to help them out, just be a support really. Being a support is a whole lot more beneficial in the long run."

Anglicare provided financial help to cover the cost of the girls' training sessions and plans to continue that support in coming years.

International Olympians to participate

Australia Day Aquathon participants will rub shoulders with a  number of Olympic internationals in today’s event. 

Among those to line up this morning are 2012 London Olympians Brendan Sexton (Australia), Gwen Jorgensen (USA) and Anna Maria Mazzetti (Italy).

Greg Rouault (France), who finished third at last year’s International Triathlon Union (ITU) Cancun World Cup will also take part, as will two-time ITU Continental Cup winner Anel Stewart (South Africa), Matt Charbott (USA) who has picked up numerous ITU podiums, and American pro D’Ann Arthur. 

Australian stars will also be in action, including twice defending champion and the current under 23 world champion, Aaron Royle; defending female champion Natalie Van Coevorden and Tamsyn Moana-Veale, the 2011 winner. 

Van Coevorden and Moana-Veale are both Australian under 23 world triathlon representatives. 

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