While many people can kick back and relax on Australia Day, Nathan Breen will be putting his body to the test in Wollongong.
The Cronulla triathlete will return to the Illawarra on January 26 as he looks to defend his Aquathon men's title. 2019 marked his maiden win at the swim-run event as he proved too good for the runner-up and his childhood hero, Craig Alexander.
Breen, 22, is no stranger to the event. In fact, 2020 will be his "10th or 11th Aquathon" after making his debut when he was 12 years old.
Breen's first Aquathon lit the fuse for a passion for triathlon which has seen him become part of Triathlon NSW's Development Squad.
"Aquathon was my introduction into the world of multi-sport, from a surf lifesaving and just a swimming and running background," Breen said.
"It's a great way to celebrate Australia Day of course and Australia's sporting lifestyle. It's a good time down in Wollongong and a great community event.
"The course itself is not overly difficult, that's why it is good for all ages and abilities I guess. Coming back through Puckeys Reserve there is a bit tough... it's never an easy race."
Breen will use the Aquathon as a stepping stone for a major year on the triathlon circuit.
His first event on the calendar is the OTU Oceania Championships next month.
Breen is also eyeing off several other domestic level events in 2020.
"It's pretty early in the season for us at the moment," Breen said.
"It will be good to see where my fitness is at [during Aquathon] against some pretty top quality opposition. It's good to change things up as well because there isn't really many Aquathons around. A lot of triathletes enjoy being able to change it up and do a unique fitness challenge in a way.
"It also brings non-triathletes into the picture as well so it's a different challenge, there is a different feeling when running after swimming. It's not any easier but you can just enjoy the variety.
"Aquathon is a race close to my heart and certainly one where I started the sport, so it would mean quite a bit to win two in a row. Obviously I have no idea who is going to be there or what the opposition will be like. I'll just focus on myself and execute the best I can on the day."
Illawarra's iconic fitness event will be held on the Wollongong foreshore on Australia Day.
In 2020, Aquathon's organisers are throwing their support behind Anglicare's Bushfire Appeal to provide assistance to bushfire-affected communities.
People can donate to the appeal on race day.
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