Swimming comes easy to Kiel’s Amy Fuhrmann.
After all, she is Kiel High School’s only state champion in girls swimming winning the 100-yard breaststroke in 2000 as Amy Christopherson.
A highly successful swim career at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay followed that and now Fuhrmann is conquering a new challenge.
She just completed her first Ironman competition and as you can probably guess, Fuhrmann fared quite well.

About an iron man event
Fuhrmann placed second in her age group (35-39) at the Wisconsin Ironman held in Madison last month. It has earned her a trip to Hawaii for world competition.
An Ironman completion consists of each athlete swimming 2.4 miles, followed by a 112-mile bike race, and then for good measure, running a marathon. That’s just a mere 26.2 miles.
Let it be known that this is all done without a break. When you get out of the lake, you jump right on your bike. After the 112-mile bike read, you hit the pavement for the 26-mile marathon.
The swim part was the easiest for the former Amy Christopherson. She was state champ for Kiel in the breaststroke at the 2000 WIAA Division 2 State Championships. But Fuhrmann will let you know that swimming in an iron man is not the same thing.
“It’s 2.4 miles freestyle in a lake, not a pool,” she profoundly states.
In this case, it was the waters of Madison’s Lake Monona and just after the severe flooding that ravaged that area late this summer.
Fuhrmann also points out, “My expertise in swimming was in the breaststroke where I won my state championship. But that doesn’t heIp in an Ironman. Fortunately, I also did the 200 individual medley (also a state qualifier there) which includes the freestyle and so certainly swimming was my biggest advantage.”
The event began and ended at Monona Terrace on the banks of Lake Monona.

Why Ironman?
Fuhrmann was asked how she became involved in Ironman competitions.
“I had finished my collegiate career at Green Bay, but I still wanted to compete,” she recalls.
Triathlons were the answer at first.
“I’ve been doing triathlons for about 12 years. These are shorter races.”
She added, “A group of my friends said that I should try Ironman because I would be good at it. I always had thought about doing an Ironman believing that I could finish one. But the question was—do I want to do one?”
After some thought, let’s just say Fuhrmann made the plunge.
“Obviously, the swimming comes easy for me and I have biked 112 miles before. But the marathon part really scared me. How do I do that? I ran my first half-marathon last year, but never a full marathon.”

Madison results
Fuhrmann completed her competition in Madison in 10 hours, 37 minutes and 12 seconds—simply a phenomenal effort. Even more impressive is that her second-place finish in her age group also ranked her the 14th fastest female out of 622 competitors and with 2,106 total athletes competing, Fuhrmann’s time puts her 95th among the entire Ironman group.
There were only a handful of qualifying berths for Hawaii that came out of the Madison competition. Fuhrmann got one.
“The biking was all over the Madison area—hills and everything,” she said.
“Then part of the marathon course goes through Camp Randall Stadium (home of the Wisconsin Badger football team). That was exciting. You also ran through downtown Madison. State Street, Lake Mendota, out by the softball complex, areas like that. It begins and ends at Monona Terrace.”
She had plenty of support.
“I had a lot of family, including my biggest supporters—my husband Mike and our two kids ages 9 and 7, as well as friends, along with just tons of fans all through the course cheering you on,” Fuhrmann points out.
Training for this requires a big commitment.
“I follow a training plan that a fellow teammate of mine—Dr. Pieper—uses. I talked to other people who have done Ironman competitions. What training did they like, didn’t like, etc. I guess I officially started training last February. It’s all based on gradually increasing your times. Building your body up.”
Fuhrmann adds there are several different techniques in her regimen.
“I did strength training, Pilates, massage therapy and several others. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t setting myself up for injury. I do have a background in physical therapy.”
Fuhrmann also credits her success to past coaches.
“Steve Schisel, whom we just lost recently, was my swim coach at Kiel. He got you to do your best and train you properly. Then my coach at UWGB and all my former teammates. They have all been inspirational.”

Next up—Hawaii
Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is the next stop for Fuhrmann when she competes in the 2019 World Championships Ironman Competition sponsored by Amazon next October.
“I guess you can call it the Super Bowl of Ironman,” Fuhrmann says with great enthusiasm.
But before that, there is more training as she will now test the waters of the Pacific Ocean, and not Lake Monona, and battle the heat and mountains of Hawaii.
“The mental aspect of this is just as important as the physical,” she states.
“You definitely have to be a self-motivator in order to succeed.”
Motivation is no problem for Fuhrmann.
Not only does she motivate herself, she spends a lot of time motivating the next group of future area swimmers as she directs the Ozaukee Swim Club. Fuhrmann also is busy helping coordinate the recent Kiel Raider Triathlon.
She certainly has the will and desire to conquer this next hurdle.