Triathlon team plans to stay in shape over extended breaks
November 25, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
After strong showings at its two fall races — Nat Greene's Revenge Triathlon on Oct. 5 in Greensboro, N.C., and the Rock N' Rollman Olympic distance event on Oct. 18 in Macon, Ga. — Liberty University's men's and women's triathlon team held an intra-squad race on its home course at Smith Mountain Lake. "We have a fairly new team and many people came in this year never having done a triathlon, so it was exciting to see them be able to finish one and not only to finish it, but to do extremely well," Lady Flames senior Taylor Villani said.
The Flames and Lady Flames plan to continue their training over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks in hopes of making two longer trips in the spring semester — to Florida for the Clermont Draft Legal Challenge on March 6-7 and Tempe, Ariz., for the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships on April 9-10.
"I've been really proud of our team," third-year Head Coach Heather Gollnick said. "They have really adapted well to all of the COVID changes. They realize that we're in this together and everyone is having to make changes and they have had a great attitude which has really helped the team to bond and to start out the season really well."
"We all knew that it was such a blessing that we had to be able to train and then also the opportunities that we found two races," Villani added. "Overall, our team was just really grateful and so everyone was willing to do temperature checks and wear a mask when needed and it made things a lot smoother."
Graduate Mark Fairley, who also serves as a graduate assistant on the NCAA Division I cross country and track & field teams, said the experience will benefit the student-athletes in the long run.
"Part of sport is building character and resiliency and during this pandemic, it has caused us to build those even more," Fairley said, looking forward to an extended break in his home state of Iowa. "When we go to different places and go to our different hometowns and states, it is going to be good knowing that we will have teammates that are going through the same thing. For me, something I like to do is just find community wherever I am at to run, bike, and swim with."
Gollnick said all of the team members will have their own personalized training workouts, which she will monitor virtually through Training Peaks.
"At least they know each other is training and I think it's motivating because we do have two big events on the schedule in the second semester … so we're just praying that all events happen as planned," she said.