Meet Rory Buck

A former collegiate swimmer who represented South Africa at the World University Games, Rory Buck completed his first half-distance race at Ironman 70.3 Colombo. We caught up with the swim coach who now lives in Dubai.

| March 22, 2018 | PERSONALITY

Rory Buck on the bike at Ironman 70.3 Colombo.

Rory Buck on the bike at Ironman 70.3 Colombo.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

It was hardly a surprise that South Africa’s Rory Buck led the way out of the water at Ironman 70.3 Colombo earlier this month – even though he was competing in just his first half-distance race the former collegiate swimmer (at Washington’s Whitworth College) also represented South Africa internationally at the world university games.

A member of the Timex Factory Team (“a feeder team to the Timex Multisport Team,” according to Buck), he works as a swim coach in Dubai and has a website dedicated to swimming for triathletes,

“I work with age group triathletes,” Buck says of his business. “Everyone from athletes looking to get through their first swim, all the way through to guys trying to get the edge on their competition at a world championship level.”

It was during his time at Whitworth, a small school just outside of Seattle, where Buck got introduced to the sport.

“I got involved in a triathlon club while I was coaching children,” he says. “A couple of parents who were triathletes kind of roped me in to giving them some lessons. From there I realized I enjoyed working with adults more than children and went straight to working full time with adults. When we left the US, Dubai was the next stop on the world map.”

Despite living in Dubai, which hosted a 70.3 race a few weeks before the race in Colombo, Buck picked the race in Sri Lanka for his half-distance debut.

“It’s close to Dubai,” he said, “and it’s a non-wetsuit swim, whereas Ironman 70.3 Dubai, which was a couple of weeks ago, was a wetsuit swim. Coming from a swimming background, having a non-wetsuit swim suited me a little bit better. Quite honestly, this one gave me a couple more weeks after Christmas vacation to train for, too. I didn’t have to be so strict and disciplined over Christmas, whereas 70.3 Dubai was eight weeks after Christmas, so you are right in a training block over the holiday.

After leading the way out of the water in Colombo in 26:33, Buck had a solid 2:20 ride, but struggled through the run.

Buck struggled on the run in Colombo, but was still able to hang on for an 11th-place overall finish.

Buck struggled on the run in Colombo, but was still able to hang on for an 11th-place overall finish.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

“The run was brutal. Hot and brutal. But I loved the experience overall. I thought the swim was really cool, the bike was good fun, but it’s going to take me a little while to emotionally get over that run. Obviously, coming from a swimming background the run is my weaker link and I knew that going in, but I think today was a particularly tough run.”

It was – the heat and humidity in Colombo served as a huge challenge for all the competitors.

Buck’s 11th place finish bodes well for his future at the distance, though. What’s next? Possibly a return to his hometown for Ironman 70.3 Durban in June. Wherever he next lands, though, you can be sure you’ll see Rory Buck in his Timex colors near the front through the first leg of the race and the early stages of the bike.