Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Cook Off to Olympic Training Center
Villanova's Dual Sport Athlete to Launch Triathlon Career

Cook was All Big East running and swimming
Villanova's Summer Cook, who has competed at a high level in both swimming and track/cross country for the Wildcats, has been targeted by USA Triathlon as a part of its Collegiate Recruiting Program and is departing tomorrow for the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a summer of intensive triathlon training. Cook, a Colorado native who started her Villanova career exclusively as a swimmer but who later returned to track and cross country (where she also excelled as a prep),  was named to the 2013 All Big East Conference and All Mid-Atlantic Region teams in cross country.  Cook was All Big East in track as well, finishing 4th in the 5000 meters at the 2013 conference indoor championships. Cook's recent outdoor season was likewise marked by new PRs, as she qualified for NCAA Regionals at 5000 meters.  In the pool, Cook was All Big East as well, coming 2nd in the 1000 meter freestyle earlier this spring.  Obviously, Cook seems a perfect candidate for USA Triathlon. As her blog posts (available HERE) below show, Summer is most concerned about getting competent on the bike.

New beginnings

     A few weeks ago, I graduated college. During the ceremony, I found myself thinking about how the next day was somewhat of a new beginning, as it would be my first day fully as a graduate student. I’m in a combined undergraduate/graduate program and last year was a hybrid year of graduate and undergraduate classes. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that everyday has the option of becoming a new beginning. Graduation is just a day people mark out for you as a forced start. Many of my classmates are starting anew with careers or graduate school. It is easy to use markers like this as a date when you vow to start doing something new. It is easy to say next season I will start doing X, and this change is what will make all the difference. Maybe X starts happening next season, maybe it doesn't.  Regardless, wouldn't it be better to start doing it tomorrow? Or better yet today? Perhaps those who are truly successful are the ones who don’t wait for a marker – they decide to make necessary changes now. Thus, every single day has the option of becoming a breakthrough day, whether or not we treat it as such.

     That being said, new beginnings due to change are inevitable and do provide opportunity. My competitive swimming career ended in March. I was then free to experiment with my training in the pool. The shift to training for one sport with complimentary cross training has provided flexibility to my training schedule and seems to have benefited my running. Yet, another new beginning will occur in a few weeks when I move to Colorado Springs to participate in a summer long triathlon camp at the Olympic Training Center. This opportunity came about via USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, headed by Barb Lindquist. The program seeks out collegiate runners and/or swimmers with the potential to excel at triathlon. My background and past performances in both swimming and running made me a candidate for the program and after some correspondence with Barb I was offered a spot at the OTC for the summer. I still have another year of cross country and track eligibility and hopefully these changes will benefit my running as well as help influence future plans. I’m thrilled to have received this opportunity and hope to make the most of it. Every young athlete dreams of being able to train and compete among the best athletes in the world. I hope to absorb the wisdom of these athletes and apply that knowledge to my own athletic journey.

     Stay tuned for updates on life at the OTC and what it is like to train with and live among some of the best athletes in the world.

Tri Time

     Monday is moving day! I’ll be headed down to the OTC in Colorado Springs  to tri (pun intended) something new. After a break from the pool, I relied on Coach Andrew and his team, the Front Range Barracuda Swim Club, to get me back to swim fitness. The Cudas train in the beautiful 50m pool at Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center (VMAC). My former school district began construction on VMAC after I graduated high school and I’m glad to say I didn't get cheated out of the experience of swimming in a great facility that is close to my home.
Picture     While I am feeling pretty good about my swimming fitness, I admit that I am a little nervous to start bike training. My outdoor biking experience does not extend beyond riding a bike around my cul-de-sac in grade school. However, we got the ball rolling (spinning?) on my cycling with a bike fit at Retül in Boulder this past week. The fit was an experience in itself, but before we could get started we encountered some slight difficulties with my pedals/cleats. I couldn’t get my shoes to clip into the pedals. Even though the cleats appeared to be installed correctly at a quick glance, I had accidentally installed a plate backwards. After a short investigation, two of Retül’s awesome fitters, Garrett and Ivan, were able to figure out what I did wrong! The improper installation caused a skinny metal bar to prevent my cleats from clipping into my pedals. Fortunately, everyone was very patient with me and we managed to get the situation sorted out so we could complete my fit. Retül gathers fitting information by putting riders in a harness with LED markers placed on several different points on each side of the body, including the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders (see picture below!). A sensor bar picks up the LED markers and generates an image of the rider on a screen. The sensors then generate various degrees and measurements for both the bike and the rider’s body position to ensure that the bike is adjusted to the correct position for each individual rider. The goal of a fit is to find the position that best promotes rider comfort and health. It was a really cool experience and I was amazed at the incredible technology surrounding the process.
     Now that I have the bike fitted, I should be able to hit the ground running – or at least as much as a novice cyclist can.


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