With the highly anticipated return of Ironman racing to Busselton this Sunday, all eyes are on a trio of female professional athletes set to line up against each other for the first time in more than two years. Kylie Simpson, Kate Bevilaqua and Sarah Thomas will race for the GWM Ironman Western Australia crown across a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run. Reigning champion Kylie Simpson heads into the event off the back of her Cairns Airport Ironman victory, which was made all the more remarkable by it being only her second professional race. The Brisbane based athlete said the water leg of the race was her focus going into the weekend. “Cairns taught me that I have to get out of the water first, obviously I’ve been doing a lot of work on my swimming, I suppose it gave me a lot of confidence that my run leg being my strength can get me to cross the line first,” she said. “The swim is always going to be a big focus for me, I can’t afford to spend too much time out of the water, we’ve changed things a little bit with the swim and there’s been some progress there which has been a positive.” While the 38-year-old’s win in Tropical North Queensland secures her a spot at next year’s Ironman World Championship, she’s looking forward to heading west for the first time. “I’ve never been to Busselton and I’m excited about that, I’ve got lots of friends who have raced it and they all tell me it’s just a spectacular scenery and I think the conditions will suit me,” she said. Perth’s own Kate Bevilaqua will run in, hoping to recreate her 2010 victory in the renowned South West race after a last minute decision to enter just weeks ago. “It was a last minute call up, I wasn’t particularly preparing for this race,” Bevilaqua said. “I did my first Tour of Margaret River a few weeks ago so there hasn’t really been any specific prep for this event which will make it interesting and exciting at the same time... I last raced over two and a half years ago, I’m pretty scared actually.” As well as racing herself, Bevilaqua is coaching a number of athletes in both the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events and says they are all looking forward to her return to the competition. Cairns based girl Sarah Thomas will also make an appearance after making her professional debut at Ironman Cairnes earlier this year, saying she looks forward to putting her first race lessons into practice in Busselton. “I learnt a lot, for me with Cairns being my first Pro race I wanted it to be a really positive experience, being a home race as well, I did really enjoy it,” she said. “I’ve identified lots of areas that do need work and I feel that learning a lot from that race will enable me to improve hopefully a lot in the next one. “I’ve been enjoying racing, I feel I’m at a level now where I can consistently race at a higher level and I just want to get as much experience so being able to do those couple races in between was awesome and I’m looking forward to doing another big one again.” Like Simpson, Thomas will be racing in Busselton for the first time this weekend. “I’m really excited to get over there and race, it’s known as a fast course so will be good to see how fast I can go, it’s a beautiful area and I’m going to spend some time after the race looking around, also being able to get out of Queensland, experience a different IRONMAN course and different conditions.” The Ironman triathlon will of a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike ride, and a 42km run, and will see athletes line up on Sunday for the epic event.