Triathlon Collegiate Club Nationals: UCSD

Rolling a Conference Championship win to the Nationals stage

Answers from UCSD Triathlon Coach Kim McDonald

Twitter:  @UCSDTriathlon @ZootSports @spyoptic

RM:  How is the field looking for this years event?

KM:  Our men’s team won the West Coast Triathlon Conference (WCCTC) title last month. Our women’s team was third, behind UCLA and UC Berkeley, and we had the overall men’s winner of the Conference Championships. In addition, we had a number of athletes who had breakthrough races at the Conference Championship, based on their performances this year, compared to last year’s Conference race, and I expect them to perform even better at Clemson. All of  the teams in our conference are tough competitors, so the only thing I can say with any real certainty about this year’s Collegiate Nationals is that I expect the teams in our conference will do very, very well.

RM:  What has been the mantra for this year?  Where is that established? Pre-Season Camp?

KM:  Consistency. I’ve been telling my athletes since the beginning of our season in October to stay consistent in their workouts, work on their weaknesses and do the little things—like strength training, working on their transitions and recovery—that will make them a better triathlete. Those athletes who followed my advice were the ones with the biggest improvements at our conference championships.

RM:  How important is the team concept in each event?  How is that communicated to the Club?

KM:  Very important. Unlike the pros and age groupers, collegiate triathletes depend on their teammates at their collegiate races. That means we need to support each other and the team does a great job doing that without any help from me. Going to a collegiate triathlon is very different from going to an Ironman or local triathlon. There’s a lot of cheering and school spirit. It’s like a cross between a football game and triathlon. Very exciting. More triathletes need to experience this and will, because as collegiate triathlon grows, more age groupers will be able to race at our races.

RM:  How has the growing success of Collegiate Triathlon impacted your program?  New opportunities?

KM:  USA Triathlon’s efforts to develop women’s varsity triathlon as an NCAA sport has unquestionably made collegiate triathlon more prominent than it has ever been and raised the bar at races. It’s only going to get more competitive each year. None of the schools in our conference have been able to convince their athletic directors to start NCAA programs, but all of us are supportive of making more opportunities for schools that do to have draft-legal races on our campuses in the near future.

RM:  How is the health of the team leading up to Nationals?  

KM:  Very good. My athletes, especially the men, are coming into their peak form very nicely.

RM:  What was the key moment for the team this season?

KM:  Winning the men’s overall championship team title at our Conference Championships last month.

RM:  Considering your home base, do you foresee any issues or complications with the venue in Clemson, S.C.?

KM:  The main thing has been the cost of flying there with our bikes. Because we’ll be traveling during mid-terms and we’re faced with a 3-hour time zone change, those will also be disadvantages. But we’re taking all of that into account.

RM:  Which event does your athletes most look for ward to and why?  Olympic, Mixed Team Relay

KM:  The draft legal events will be contested by only three athletes on my team, so the Olympic event is what everyone is waiting to race.

RM:  Do you prefer draft-legal racing to non-draft? Why?

KM:  I think draft-legal racing is going to be THE race for collegiate triathletes in the near future, because that’s what the NCAA races are focused on. That’s good news for everyone, because it’s a much more exciting format to race and will force athletes to work on their swim. You NEED to swim well to become a triathlete.

RM:  Any special "Thank You's" you would like to make for all those that helped this season?

KM:  YES. Our team is sponsored by ZootSports, SPY and Specialized. We’d like to provide a special THANK YOU to ZootSports and SPY for being our biggest supporters and supplying our nationals team with the equipment they need to perform at their highest level in Clemson.
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