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Members of the Collegiate Recruitment Program, which identifies collegiate swimmers or runners who could make the transition to triathlon after graduation, will kick of their seasons this weekend in Clermont.
March marks the start of the triathlon racing season for many, including elite athletes, who will be competing Saturday in Clermont, Fla., at the Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup. This race has given new professional triathletes a chance to test the waters before jumping into what can sometimes be an intense season, full of travel and tough competition.
Gwen Jorgensen is one athlete who knows just how Clermont can open doors to a whole new world.
“The Clermont race was my first competitive triathlon, and it was also the place where I earned my pro card,” said Jorgensen, who will be representing the U.S. this summer at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “This year, it will be my third year competing in the race, and it is exciting for me because it is where my triathlon career began.”
Jorgensen’s start in triathlon can be attributed to the Collegiate Recruitment Program, which identifies collegiate swimmers or runners who could make the transition to triathlon after graduation. Each year new recruits toe the line and start their professional triathlon careers in Clermont, just like Jorgensen did in 2010.
“Clermont is an awesome looking event,” said Dan Feeney, who ran for the University of Delaware. “This year, the pro field is really high caliber, and honestly I have a lot of role models racing. To be toeing the line with former Olympians, and guys that race on the WTS circuit is an incredible opportunity to have.”
Though there are a number of races available to new elite triathletes, racing on home soil in Clermont is a popular choice, and because athletes like Jorgensen have found success there, others know that the possibilities are endless, even if they are just beginning.
“It is thrilling to know that the level of racing can advance so quickly,” said Nicole Truxes, who hails from the University of Arizona. “Knowing that in this same program there are athletes who have improved astronomically from where they started makes it very easy to get out of bed in the morning to train hard.”
The Collegiate Recruitment Program is led by 2004 Olympian Barb Lindquist, who was once a collegiate swimmer herself at Stanford before beginning her 10-year career as an elite triathlete. The program mentors athletes on the steps and skills needed to become an elite triathlete, and helps them with the transition through camps, clinics and coaching.
Read more: Usatriathlon.org