I surprised myself with a win at IRONMAN 70.3 Taiwan in my season opener and my first time racing in Asia! I felt a huge weight off my shoulders with a tumultuous year finally in the rearview mirror. I had a blast traveling with my friend Leslie Smith and our Taiwanese-American sponsor Bliiq treated us like royalty. Here’s my race video recap.

Here we go again! #IM703Taiwan

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Swimming has been a near constant source of frustration over my pro career. My performances seemingly had little correlation with training and I’ve “lost” more than a few races in the swim! #IM703Taiwan was the closest I’ve come to a breakthrough in years, leading the first pack about 80 seconds down on Andy Potts. After trying countless approaches, the most successful has been consistently swimming 25-30 km/week with a group, almost regardless of the workout specifics. Though I’ll happily ride and run alone most of the time, the swim is fundamentally different. I can’t beat the benefits of a group and a coach on deck. I’m fortunate to have some outstanding programs in Guelph like @guelphtriathlonproject and @loaringpersonalcoaching #HurdleProject that have welcomed me into their positive, hard-working groups. Swimming with ITU athletes is humbling to say the least! The other piece of the puzzle was a technical change: switching mostly to a two-beat kick. This was the first race that I two beat kick the vast majority, only using a more powerful but less efficient six-beat kick to start and surge. It was a leap of faith, since two-beat kicking feels so cruisy, almost lazy! I find a two-beat kick more efficient while also helping me tempo up my low stroke rate, a plus for open water swimming. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in swimming, but it seems like I’ve finally struck on a formula for progress. ? @james_liu_007

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IRONMAN 70.3 Texas

Next up, I returned to an old favourite: IRONMAN 70.3 Texas. This was my first pro race in 2014 and also a breakthrough the following year, when I ran with Lionel Sanders and Andy Potts to earn my first major podium. Unfortunately, a flat tire midway through the ride took me out of contention, but set up a priceless photo op with my friend and fellow Canadian Antoine Jolicoeur-Desroches.

IRONMAN 70.3 Monterrey

My third race of 2018 brought me back to IRONMAN 70.3 Monterrey. While I’ve always felt that this course should suit me, I left Monterrey disappointed for the third time in as many years. With a mere 4 minutes separating the top 8, there was no room for error! Hungry for another win, I set my sights on back-to-back races the following month at IRONMAN 70.3 Victoria and Eagleman.

Thank you to…