The eerie feeling of no longer being a collegiate athlete has worn off, and I am in full swing with my next pursuit. Thanks to USA Triathlon’s (USAT) Collegiate Recruit Program, I have hit the ground running.
The Collegiate Recruitment Program was created in 2009 to find the next Olympic athletes for team USA. All but one of the US Olympians from the last three Olympics have come from a Division I swimming or running background, and this is a trend that USAT believes will continue. Barb Lindquist, who swam for Stanford and competed for USA in Athens, is the program’s coordinator. She contacted Coach Eric Heins in the Fall of 2009 asking if any of his athletes would be interested in a career in triathlons after finishing their collegiate eligibility. Heins forwarded me her contact, and we kept in touch as I dabbled in triathlon last summer.
With the end of my running career on the horizon, Barb and I discussed becoming a “full blown” recruit. What this means is that Barb and USAT help me progress from a novice triathlete — getting me a coach, equipment, training camps — to a 2016 Olympic hopeful.
The first step in getting me prepared for a future in triathlon was finding me a coach. I won one race and took second in two races last year without a coach, but those were small fish. There are much better athletes out there, and I need someone with experience to bring me up to their level.
Barb began by contacting some of the best triathletes in the world,?? Jordan Rapp (previous Ironman Canada and Arizona winner) and his wife Jill Savege (2004 Olympian). Eventually she found Ian Murray, a Level 3 Certified coach, and asked if he knew of any coaches in the area that would be willing to work with me. Surprisingly, he was interested.
I am very lucky to have Ian as a coach and I am confident that he will help me accomplish my goals. He has great experience, serving as a team USA coach at several ITU continental cup races and coaching other ITU professionals. He has a series of triathlon training videos called TTS, and he hooked me up with some swag.
Next up was equipment, i.e. bike. I had been riding on a Trek 1500 from 2007 that has served me well, but was putting me at a pretty big disadvantage at the level of racing I am now at. For non-draft racing, I found a sweet deal over at the Slowtwitch classifieds on a Quintana Roo CD 0.1. The bike has SRAM Red components that work like a dream. For the majority of the races I do this season, I will be on this time trial bike.
But moving forward, I want to do draft legal racing. The point of the Collegiate Recruitment Program is to prepare athletes for the Olympics, which is draft legal. I needed to upgrade my road bike from a Trek 1500 so I am not missing out on “free speed.”
Thanks to USAT and Blue Bicycles, I am now riding a beautiful Blue RC6. Ian helped me build up the bike with a mix of Shimano Dura Ace and Ultegra components. We slapped some beefy training wheels on there (for now), and what I am left with is an amazing ride. It is so much more responsive than the Trek, and I am really excited to put in the mileage in the saddle on it.
Barb didn’t stop there. I have been invited to come to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for 8 days in July for a triathlon camp with other collegiate recruits, including friend and recent pro Brianna Blanchard. I am so thrilled for this opportunity to learn from the very best in America and to meet some triathletes that share my goals.
I am beginning to train more intensely, focusing on my swim and bike while my Achilles continues to heal. I plan to continue with updates on the road toward living my dream as a professional athlete, so please continue to follow.