FROM struggling to swim a handful of laps to competing alongside some of the country's best triathletes - that is the reward for the dedicated efforts of Ballina couple Chris and Teresa Barnes.
The pair are completing preparations for the upcoming Port Macquarie Ironman.
Triathletes from across Australia will take part in the gruelling 220km event.
"There are two challenges," Chris Barnes said. "Getting to the start line and then actually doing the race.
"Twelve months ago I couldn't swim 100 metres without stopping and now I am competing in this event.
"It will be tough but I am looking forward to it."
Ironman entrants are expected to complete a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km run.
Barnes said he and his wife started training about 12 months ago after deciding to take up the sport, but had differ- ent approaches to the event.
"I think for Teresa it was more of a 'bucket list' thing," he said.
"For her it is about health and fitness, whereas I am more about setting myself personal goals.
"It would be hard for one of us to be doing this ourselves so it is great we have a common interest."
The couple are among a handful of Far North Coast representatives taking part in the May 5 event.
Barnes, 47, said training had provided a common interest for the couple and their three children, Eleanor, 9, Grace, 7, and Henry, 4.
"I think it is good we are setting a good example for them," he said.
Barnes thanked Keatyn Simpson of the Lennox Head Aquatic Centre and Southport-based trainer Craig Sweeney for their "fantastic" assistance.