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Guildford Feels Like Home to USA Triathlon in London Lead-Up
GUILDFORD, Surrey — A week before the Aug. 4 women’s Olympic Games triathlon, the majority of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team — along with its support staff — relocated from the Olympic Village to the quiet suburban town of Guildford, a 40-minute train ride from London Waterloo Station.
According to USA Triathlon High Performance General Manager Andy Schmitz, the aim of the move is threefold — improved quality of living, improved quality of training and access to each athlete’s support network.
After enjoying two nights in the festive Olympic Village and walking in the Opening Ceremony, triathletes Manny Huerta, Gwen Jorgensen and Hunter Kemper are using the state-of-the-art Surrey Sports Park as their training base for the home stretch in the lead-up to London 2012.
“We’re someplace where we have a good, quiet environment — great training with relatively quiet roads to train on outside, good trails to run on and a great 50-meter pool,” Schmitz said.
The Surrey Sports Park also offers sports medicine facilities, a training lab and ice baths to aid in recovery. According to Schmitz, the facility provides all the tools the team needs to have a “more efficient time in executing our final preparations.”
Relocating to Guildford also gives the athletes access to the support staff they’ve worked with for much of the past four years — chiropractor Dr. Alex Keith, massage therapist Kim Kirkland and bicycle mechanic Joe Santos — as well as their personal coaches. None of these staff members or coaches would have been credentialed for access to the Olympic Village.
A typical training day in Guildford opens with a 7 a.m. group swim, followed by a team breakfast. From there, training sessions differ from athlete to athlete — some may ride or run outside, while others take advantage of the treadmills and trainers for targeted speed work. The afternoon may feature a massage or an ice bath before the group gathers for dinner at 6:30 p.m.
The team is familiar with this set-up, as it had a dry run in Guildford as its training base prior to last year’s test event. This year, they swim in the same pool, enjoy similar rides and the same food. Only minor tweaks from 2011 were needed to make it perfect for the athletes.
“It’s a big benefit, especially since we tried it out last year. I feel very familiar here,” Kemper said.
“Most athletes don’t want to go into an environment where they are operating with newness at this stage. One of thing we always tell our athletes is don’t change things right before a competition.”
Each athlete and their personal coaches provided Schmitz and Performance Leader Jonathan Hall with a support plan of what they needed be successful in the final 10-14 days before competition.
“I think USA Triathlon has done a great job of helping support the athletes during the Olympic year …,” Kemper said. “They’ve been really good about working with athletes and their individual coaches, which is really important. With Jonathan Hall coming on board and Andy Schmitz, I think they’re running a great, great program with regards to catering to the athletes’ needs."