Triathlete star runs, swims and bikes her way to the top

Kristen Merchant.Kristen Marchant is a quick competitor.

The fourth-year Health Studies student learned about triathlons in just her second year at UWaterloo. With lots of practice and perseverance, Kristen’s hard work has brought her to the point of being recognized by a national triathlon magazine as Female Triathlete of the Year.

Triathlon Magazine Canadian awarded Kristen with the remarkable achievement in their January/February issue, coming at a very opportune time for the young athlete, after overcoming adversity in her teens including issues with anorexia and stress fractures. Becoming a professional athlete has not always been in Kristen’s plans though.

I didn’t even know what triathlons were all about until after my second year of university, when I signed up for a few local races. I saw success pretty quickly as I got more involved in the sport. The idea formed in my head that perhaps I could take it to another level. –Kristen Marchant

In her second year of triathlons, Kristen went on to compete in her age group in the International Triathlon Union World Triathlon championships in London, England in 2013 where she won for her age group. This is when it really became clear to her that becoming a professional athlete was definitely in her near future. She took fourth place last summer at the Niagara Falls Barrelman, a half ironman distance race, where she recorded a time of four hours 19 minutes - a time comparable to professionals.

Kristen has appreciated having access to the athletic facilities at Waterloo. She credits it as being very beneficial to her career, with the proximity making it very easy to fit in training between classes. Her role on the cross-country team has helped her to receive proper run training while building lasting friendships and training partners. Kristen credits much of her success to being a part of the UWaterloo varsity swim team and her coach, Jeff Slater.

I was a less than spectacular swimmer two years ago when I asked Jeff if I could train with the team. I started with just a couple days a week as they were still finishing their season. Once they were done I trained more often with them, and in September 2013 I actually joined the team. His guidance with swimming has been crucial to my success because swimming is such a technical sport. If you don't swim properly, it doesn't matter how much time and effort you invest, you will hit a plateau pretty quickly. –Kristen Marchant

Kristen will be focusing on non-drafting Olympic-distance racing this year after she graduates in April.

Kristen’s interview after the Barrelman

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