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Swimming Through a Cardiac Arrest

July 28, 2015

Anyone connected to triathlon will know or know of Emma Carney.

Whenever Emma raced, competitors knew they were all going to hurt. She would push herself through a wall of agony, but she'd take them along with her.

To this day Emma remains one of the greatest triathletes to have ever raced. Yet the athletic career of the two-time World Champion, three-time World Number one, and nine-time Australian Champion finished abruptly and dramatically when she began cardiac arresting during a swim training session. She finished the session.

Shane Kelly sits back with Emma to discuss her early days in the sport (which are essentially the formative years of the sport itself) and the road to her new working life as a coach to amateur/ age grouper triathletes.

It's a pretty unbelievable start; she saw a triathlon was happening in her local area, she had a bike, she'd swum a bit and she knew she could run, so she gave it a nudge. She ran down every female in her age group, asking each one as she passed 'are you in first place?' until finally one responded affirmatively.

So she passed her and took top of the podium.

It was a day or two later when her dad was crunching race data that he came into the room and said, based on the numbers, it looked like she just might be able to become the fastest triathlete in her age group in the world... If she improved her swim, she'd probably be a world champion. Err... Not your typical father-daughter conversation.

The rest his history, and we strongly recommend you check out the extended interview to really get an idea of just how incredible Emma's journey has been so far. If you're inspired by Emma's story and interested to know more about her new online coaching, email her at

Check out more from the Shane Kelly Off the Bike Series!

  • Tammy Foster - How Two Siblings' Cancer Journey is Now Helping Others.

  • Bridie O'Donnell - a tenacious force in women's cycling.

  • Billy Joe Shearsby - the Aussie World Champ who caught the attention of a young Bradley Wiggins.

  • Tim Spiteri - the ocean rowing adventurer who makes endurance look like a sprint.

  • Dave Sanders - behind every exceptional athlete is an exceptional coach.

  • Josiah Ng - Malaysian track cycling champion.

  • Jess Gallagher - being legally blind isn't slowing down her ambitions for Rio.

  • Lance Picioane - a former AFL player helping young people struggling with mental illness to reach their full potential.

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