Teacher and triathlete Abi Schofield (24) of Market Deeping is becoming an expert at turning life into a juggling act.
The member of staff at the Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust Special School, Peterborough, is also training for next year’s European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Geneva, Switzerland.
All this having moved to the Deepings just four months ago after four years at university in Bedford and a year teaching at a school in Grantham where Abi is from originally.
“I love to motivate people and help children find what drives them in life,” Abi said.
“My parents are very driven, so I’ve always been brought up with the ethos that if you want something, you have to work for it.
“When I was a child, I used to register my teddy bears and I remember my mum giving me a whiteboard which I used to teach my younger brother Elliott (17) how to swim.”
But while studying for her A-levels at Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, Abi had a choice to make between professional sport and a teaching career.
Abi said: “I started swimming when I was a toddler but when I got to primary school, I hated it.
“Then I remember starting to look up to other swimmers, winning one or two little races and making that level of progress that brings rewards.
“I became the fastest swimmer at my club, reached the district championships, joined a big swimming club in Lincoln and came to a point where I had to choose whether to do my A-levels or training in a more professional manner.
“I made the decision to stop swimming and become a teacher which I always wanted to do from a very young age.”
It’s rare for a person to find fulfilment in two seemingly opposite spheres, but Abi is as much in love with helping children diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger syndrome as she is with triathlon which Abi only took up four months ago. Abi said: “I’ve linked my career with my sport, but they are both rewarding.
“I love children and I have so much patience with them because I like creating things for them and watching them develop. “After teaching at a mainstream school in Grantham for a year, I didn’t think I’d get the job with special needs children.
“Every day is never the same and it’s challenging, but you learn that teamwork is essential and I feel like I’m learning more than the children.”
But there’s a price to be paid for chasing your dreams and making a living as Abi Schofield is finding out.
The teacher and triathlete has found herself in an age trap, too old for sponsors to come knocking at her door but too young to be considered a heroic veteran.
Next on the agenda for Abi is a 50km ultra-marathon next month and next year’s London Marathom before her big date at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Geneva, Switzerland, next July.
Abi said: “I like to talk about sport and talk about it from a realistic point of view.
“Training is hard and expensive, with early mornings made up of rushed training sessions before work.
“But it’s worth it when you’re not out with your friends and I feel like I can get to the top.
“It’s been a really big year for me – getting into a new sport, moving into a new flat, putting down roots in Market Deeping and getting a teaching job that I love.”