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An Olympian in the Making? A 15-Year-Old Triathlete Shares Her Top Tips

Fiona makes the most of her time by training with family, including her mom, right. (Photo courtesy of Fiona Chesley)

It's a trend that we probably first noticed with the bodybuilding kid C.J. Senters, continued on with the Fierce Five (median age of 16) and now is spreading to the triathlon circuit: young athletes seem to be making their mark on more serious athletic events than ever. Clearly, it's not just team sports either. The number of teens participating in road races and triathlons continues to grow, according to USA Triathlon.

To learn more about this trend, and how students balance their coursework with their workouts, we spoke with Fiona Chesley, a 15-year-old who aims to complete her 18th triathlon at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 16 to benefit the pediatric cancer research program at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Most kids stick with team sports like basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, etc. What drew you to triathlons?

I've played many sports, but none seemed right. I enjoy competing in sports with a finish line. There isn't a coach on the sidelines telling you if you're right or wrong—it's all you. You're the one who has to find all of the determination deep within and put it to use.

What does your training regimen look like, and how do you fit it in with school and your social life?

It helps that racing is a family affair for me. Typically, I swim with my stepmother and run with my dad when he gets home around 6 p.m. I also go to the YMCA and do weight and ab workouts when I have time. Sometimes, I train and bike with the Cal Tri team.

Time for the lightning round...Fill in the blank:

  • My role model is: "Chrissie Wellington, the four-time world Ironman champion. She is a great triathlete and has inspired me to do an Ironman someday!"
  • My top motivation trick: "When I'm not in the mood to exercise, I play long games of Ultimate Frisbee with friends. It's loads of fun and an easy way sneak in a workout."
  • My go-to pre-race meal: "The night before a triathlon, my family has our favorite pasta dish: fusilli pasta with butter, ham, peas and mozzarella cheese."
  • My dream competition: "I aim to do my best at every race, but I eventually want to compete in the triathlon at the Olympics."

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