The USF Triathlon team headed to Colorado to kick off their season at two events in the Centennial State last weekend. They began their new year on a high note, finishing third overall as a team in the Oktoberfest Sprint on Saturday and fourth in the University of Denver’s Mile High Relays on Sunday. Notably, second-year triathlete Kira Gupta Baltazar, last year’s NCAA Division 1 Individual National Champion, quickly returned to form with a second-place finish as an individual at the Oktoberfest Sprint.
Gupta Baltazar comes from Toronto, Canada, and wants to carry the cup home. “It would be exciting to win NCAA nationals again, but I’m also looking to be selected to compete for Canada at the World Championships next year,” she said.
A triathlon race consists of a 750-meter swim in open water, followed by a 20-kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run. To prepare for these races, the Dons go through rigorous preparation. “We train about 20 hours a week, usually three workouts a day,” said third-year triathlete Maddie Perkins.
The Mile High Relays presented a unique challenge for the Dons. While San Francisco sits at sea level, Denver sits about one mile above sea level, and the triathletes had to acclimate to the lower air pressure and decreased oxygen. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t let it affect us. We were making sure we were hydrated, getting enough calories, just trying to limit the effects of the altitude,” said Perkins. “I know I personally felt the effects during the swim, but aside from your heart rate being a bit high, we just need to make sure we’re carrying our bodies the right way.” The Dons finished fourth overall as a team at the Mile High Relays.
After finishing second as a team at the NCAA Nationals last year, the USF Triathlon team hopes to continue their high performance and also continue to grow the program. “At the forefront of our minds, we want to have an energetic and driven environment that not only supports individual performances but also team performances,” Perkins said. “We’re still a relatively small program by standards, but as we continue to add more girls to the program, we’re going to keep getting stronger.”
USF will return to racing on Oct. 15 as the Dons travel to Stockton, Missouri for the U.S.A. Triathlon Regional Qualifier hosted by Drury University.
Editor’s note: The Foghorn’s online editor, Hayley Diemar is a member of the triathlon team.