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Zaunbrecher Twins Unite

By Monique Koll

You know Britain’s Brownlee brothers, now meet Team USA’s Zaunbrecher twins who will be on their turf in London, racing at the 2013 ITU Sprint World Championship.

mzEvery girl born in South Louisiana has a dash of hot sauce in her veins, but Analise and Laura Zaunbrecher may have gotten a little extra. In beautiful Carville on the muddy Mississippi River, they spent their early years picking pecans and playing with three brothers while their father completed his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and their physician mother worked alongside Dr. Paul Wilson Brand (the highly honored orthopedic surgeon featured in Born to Run).

In a dramatic change from hot and steamy summers to bitter cold and long winters, the family moved to Saranac Lake, nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. The rest of their pre-college years were lived there in a house aptly named “Chaos Manor,” climbing mountains and camping and canoeing with the other five incredibly active, independent, and intelligent family members. The girls excelled academically and showed immediate talent for cross country and track. They still both hold (2) 12-year-standing records from Saranac Lake High School: Analise in the 1600m, Laura in the 800m, and together in the 4x800 relay.

Laura and Analise continued their path of success when they moved back to Louisiana on scholarships and became “Ragin’ Cajuns” at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Besides being named a top national institution by the Princeton Review, ULL quite literally comes equipped with alligators in the main campus swamp! The girls competed on the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams and their indoor Distance Medley Team still holds the school’s record.

In Atlanta they began triathlon. Analise earned a full scholarship to Emory University, and Laura moved to Atlanta the following year to study at Georgia Tech. Laura was forced to cross train when a knee injury redshirted her from running for a year. She started swimming, and was taking spinning classes with a friend who was also interested in triathlon. Laura bought a bike after attending just one race and planned her first event — when her friend dropped out two weeks before the race, Analise decided to take her place. Analise was already swimming and spinning, so she borrowed a bike and together the sisters raced their first-ever triathlon. Laura continued to race and qualified for her first world championships in just her third competition.

mzNow that the twins live apart, they can’t train together as they had most of their racing career. Laura does most of her training with her team, including group swims and group cycling. She says training with Analise was always the best as they were very evenly matched and could push each other — now most of her runs are alone because not many people can keep up with her! Besides Team USA, Laura races for Team Endurance Concepts and is a member of the Cadence Bikes and Multisport elite team. She placed seven times this year and also raced at the 2012 Aquathlon World Championship in New Zealand. Analise loved training with Laura and wishes she still could, citing her sister as the reason she did her first triathlon and a major reason why she continues to do them. Since Laura has been competing at a higher level, Analise gets a lot of workout suggestions from her.

The 2012 Age Group National Championships in Burlington was an exciting time. The sisters hadn’t seen each other since Analise’s wedding, and they hadn’t raced together in over a year. Laura competed Saturday in the Olympic-Distance and both raced Sunday in the Sprint. In Laura’s race report, she said, “Somehow my nerves were much calmer [Sunday], maybe because I would be lining up with my sister...”

Laura placed eighth in her age group and immediately began cheering on Analise, who was finishing close behind! (If you check out the live stream of the event, you can see Laura cross at 1:07:46, and then she starts cheering for Analise at 1:09:45: http://www.livestream.com/neotilive/video?clipId=pla_801fe0d6-ce96-4836-b9d6-6f6a35d16d93.)Their placement qualified them to race for Team USA in the 2013 ITU Sprint World Championship.

“I never imagined I would get to represent Team USA, much less on an international level, but it is an honor and an accomplishment that I cherish,” said Analise. “The opportunity to represent our country is thrilling and I hope to make Team USA proud. Honestly — it is somewhat surreal.”

Laura is proud to be on Team USA. “I’m so excited to qualify for Team USA for my third time,” she said. “I am honored to wear our country’s colors and represent the USA across the globe. I hope to represent the quality of athletes that our country has and the character, positive attitude, and integrity of Americans when I am wearing red, white and blue.”

For more information on these sisters and their multisport pursuits, you can follow Laura’s blog at http://laurazaunbrechertris.blogspot.com.

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