A Champion’s Character
How she balances her intensity with humor, her quietness with conviction, her predicaments with positivity and politeness, and her extreme competitiveness with equal compassion.
Lidbury: If it’s a super hard session and requires a lot of concentration, you get that with Rachel but you equally get a lot of laughs. There have been times in the pool when the push-off is in five seconds and she’ll say something and you can’t stop giggling. You have to push off and then you’re just snorting chlorine.
Joyce: While I know I can seem quite quiet at times, with anything I believe strongly about I’m not very good at staying quiet. I did politics in my law study at university [Joyce received her undergraduate degree in law and politics from the University of Birmingham in 2000, and completed her legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford in 2001], so I really love debate. My dissertation had a feminist thread and that’s something I believe passionately about. Or if I’m in the bus queue in London, for example, and I see someone throw litter on the ground I will say something. I’m that annoying person! “Don’t you see there’s a bin right there?”
Dibens: She’s so British! I kind of make fun of her, because on the emotional side she definitely is guarded. She keeps things in. We were in Phoenix together and we went to see a physical therapist who inflicts a lot of pain. I’m in there screaming and cussing but she wouldn’t make a peep, because you’re not supposed to show emotion or complain about things. He did get her to crack once. She didn’t swear, but she definitely screamed a little bit. She said something like, “I think that’s past my limit.”
Cave: During ITU [Long Course] Worlds [in 2011, when Joyce won] she was passing someone who was a friend of ours, but she didn’t know it was him. Rachel, being the very polite person she is, goes, “On your left! Can you move to the right, please?” She was so polite! He brings this up every time he sees her now.
Lidbury: You can be out riding with Rachel and you’ll be struggling. She’ll turn to you and say, “What was your favorite race last year?” Might not even be that transparent of a question, but before you know it you’re talking about something that lifts you and makes you feel better. You’re in a totally different mind-set than you were five minutes before. That’s a pretty special gift to have.
Katie Joyce (Rachel’s younger sister): She’s definitely a glass-half-full person — probably the glass is always actually full. I mean I look at all the crap that’s happened — she’s intermittently had injuries, and then with the tonsils in Kona it would be so easy to get disheartened. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t wallow about. She just focuses and is super determined about achieving what she wants to achieve — and having the positive attitude to back that up.