20 Things You Probably Never Knew About Andy Potts You probably know a great deal about Andy Potts—like the fact that he grew up swimming, ultimately making the USA National Team and placing fourth at the 1996 Olympic Trials in the 400 individual medley. You may know that a mere 18 months into his triathlon career Potts represented Team USA at the Athens Olympics in 2004, went on to win the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship and three Ironman titles, and openly states on his website his goal to be “the best triathlete in the world.” You’ve likely read that he cycle trains primarily indoors, tries something new at every race and spends his free time with his son, Boston (age 6), daughter, Sloane (3) and wife, Lisa, who runs Cupcake Girls bakery near the couple’s home in Colorado Springs, Colo. But there are also a few things you don’t know about Potts—for example, that he slept with a “Star Wars” pillowcase in college or has what he calls “fat kid instincts.” Photo: Paul Phillips/Endurapix 1. As a kid, he wanted to be a coach someday. I had a lot of respect for my coach growing up. He was all about confidence. He would try to do something each and every day to build our confidence. So I wanted to be a coach. I don’t know if I want to be a coach going forward, but I did then.
Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org 2. He’s not just a swimmer. When people say, “Oh, you’re the swimmer,” I usually let it roll. But sometimes when I’m defensive I’ll say, “No, I’m a triathlete.” I identify as a triathlete more and more. My background is in swimming, so I have a great knowledge base there; I love running at my core and in my heart; and cycling is my biggest area for growth, and because of that I’m very interested in it and I want to learn more.
Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org 3. He took dating advice from “Swingers.” Remember the movie “Swingers”? I met Lisa in college standing around a keg at a party. It was Halloween, so I was dressed as Braveheart and she was dressed as a pirate. I wanted to learn more about her, but I waited five days because in “Swingers” they said you had to wait five days before you called a girl you met at a party. And then I realized I didn’t have her phone number. I ended up getting a hold of her neighbor. Lisa walked next door and got on her neighbor’s phone and we finally talked.
Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org 4. He applies his swim technique to biking and running. Whatever it is where your strength lies—swimming, cycling or running—those cues and those keys are transferable to another sport and another discipline. In swimming, people talk a lot about your hand placement in the water and keeping your fingertips down. But now we’re talking about how your foot strikes the ground and your release in running. Technique is a big portion of cycling and running, just like it is in swimming. It’s all about finding the contact point and how you propel yourself forward. In swimming it’s with your hands and your hips. With cycling and running it’s with your legs and your core. The key component in all three is your core, your hips, and then letting the energy stem outward from there.
Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon.org 5. In addition to off-season, he also observes cupcake season. After Kona, Lisa will start bringing home more and more cupcakes. Thanksgiving through Christmas and into January—that’s high season for cupcakes. And after that I’ll tell her, “OK, let’s limit how many you bring home.” Because once they’re in the house I’m going to eat them. So it ebbs and flows with the triathlon season.
Photo: Robert Murphy 6. He works on his weight, too. I think at heart I want to be a fat kid. But I’ve slowly changed throughout the years. I’ve learned more and more how it’s both about portion control and what you eat. For maybe seven years of my triathlon career I was under the delusion that it didn’t matter what or how much I ate because of how much I trained, but that simply isn’t true. When I was racing in the ITU scene, I was at least 10 pounds heavier. I’m trying to slim down and be smart about my weight, and I think it’s helping my racing—I really do.
Photo: Jeff Bottari 7. He reads magazines on the CompuTrainer. I like magazines because I can sweat on them. I read them cover to cover and I can tell when I’m in really good shape by how well I’m reading at above 300 watts. At 300 watts right now I can read steadily and still have a good cadence and be in tune with the workout. The higher up it goes in 10-watt increments, it starts to get a bit difficult. At 310 I get a little shaky. At 320 it’s like, “This better be a really intriguing read, otherwise I’m going to have to put it down and buckle down.” And at 330—if I can read at 330 then I know my riding’s really good.
Photo: Kurt Hoy 8. He plans to race an XTERRA off-road triathlon. I got a mountain bike this year! I will race XTERRA sometime—it will happen. And yes, I mountain bike outdoors.
Photo: Aaron Hersh 9. He’s not afraid to take on any challenge (or ask for help). I naturally have a lot of confidence. I don’t put limits on what I can and can’t do. This may sound totally pompous and I don’t mean it that way, but I believe in myself a lot and I think I would be good at almost everything. Lisa and I talk about what we want our dream home to be, and I said to her one day, “I can build our dream home.” She was like, “You don’t know how to do any of that.” I said, “Yeah, but I can learn.” I believe that I can build it from the ground up, from nothing. I’m sure that I would need help along the way, but I’m not afraid to ask for help, either. 10. He wanted to be a reality TV star. When I was in college, I thought I’d make an interesting participant on “The Real World” —mainly because I’m just opinionated. But then I started to get a little more private with my life. Now I don’t know if I would make an interesting subject or if my family would be interesting to follow. Sometimes I think, “Man, we’re pretty boring.” But the closer you are to something, the harder it is to analyze it. Last night my wife said, “If someone ever asks you to do ‘Dancing With The Stars’ maybe you should do it, just because it would be cool to see you with two left feet.”
Photo: 70.3 Eagleman 11. His self-image goes beyond looks. Sometimes when I go into a photo shoot I’ll say, “Listen, I could stand to lose 10 pounds.” I’m pretty honest about it. But I’m not really embarrassed or anything, even when I’m on the heavier side—like if you catch me around Christmas at the height of cupcake season! I’m really comfortable, but it has less to do with how I look than just my whole image of myself—my confidence in my strength and training.
Photo: Steve Godwin 12. He’s humbled by parenthood. Before you’re a parent you think you’ll teach your kids this and show them that. But it’s surprising how much of a two-way street it is. You don’t realize how much they’re going to teach you. No. 1 on that list is patience. They also teach me that what you say is important, but how you say it is just as important. Like if I tell them, “Eat your cereal!” the message is going to be lost because of the approach.
Photo: Kurt Hoy 13. He’s not afraid of dirty diapers. I was never one to shy away from diaper changing. Sometimes it’s gross, but it’s really not that big of a deal. I mean, poo happens during racing sometimes—you just have to deal with it. 14. He’s not superstitious. I know I subscribe to preparation. I try to learn from my mistakes, however I’m also the type of person that needs to make mistakes often to continue to relearn the same lesson. And I also do new things all the time during a race. Every race I’ll try something new. That’s the only way I know how to learn something–if it’s really viable–is to put it to the test in a race. It’s a complete fallacy, in my opinion, that you shouldn’t try new things. I know that goes against the grain, but I do things the only way I know how: my way.
Photo: Larry Rosa 15. He’s kind of a big kid. I’m a toy guy. That’s what’s awesome about having a son–he’s starting to gravitate to the things that I loved as a kid. My boy loves “Star Wars.” I had a “Star Wars” pillowcase in college! And lately he’s really been into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I don’t prompt him to which guy to be when we role-play, but of the four he likes Raphael. When I played with my friends that’s who I would always be.
Photo: Kris Mendoza 16. Athletically, he married up. Lisa’s career is way better than mine. She was a trapeze artist; she did more than 2,000 shows with Cirque du Soleil’s “O.” Actually the skill that she performed hasn’t been reproduced since she left because nobody else can do it. She was on a T-shirt before I was ever on a T-shirt. Cirque du Soleil has gift shops and all kinds of merchandise, so she was on T-shirts and mugs and key chains. We have a statue of her and martini glasses with her on them.
Photo: Paul Phillips 17. He identifies with his name. I really like my name. The derivative of the name means strong and manly. And I feel like I’m an Andy. Some people are Andy and some are Andrew. Only a few people call me Andrew and get away with it! 18. He appreciates well-timed shark talk. There are rules about when to talk about sharks. It’s totally OK to talk about sharks now, for example, because we’re in a controlled environment. You’re not allowed to talk about sharks when you’re standing on the beach getting ready to go into the water. You’re not allowed to talk about sharks when you’re standing on the boat about to dive in at Escape from Alcatraz.
Photo: Rocky Arroyo 19. He gets a little help in the fashion department. I’m a product of the ’90s fashion faux pas of really big clothing. In high school and college our team gear was always XL or XXL. It just hung on you. I’ve slowly caught up with the trend that things are more form-fitting now, but for better or for worse I’m not metrosexual. But I don’t want to have a poor presentation, because presentation matters. So I’ll ask Lisa, “Is this a good outfit?” She’s my fashion consultant.
Photo: Nils Nilsen 20. He has a strong vision for growing our sport. To me it’s about exploring the boundaries of the sport. I like going up and down in distances. And I think I need a really good performance in Kona this year—I’d like to perform up to my potential and I feel like my potential is really high. And more and more I think that growing the sport is part of what it means to be a champion. You need to elevate your sport as a whole and make it matter to people. And how do you make it matter? By racing fast and being great at what you do, but also by helping others. So I’ve gotten more and more behind the education side and teaching people about our sport.
Photo: Jeff Clark
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