Category Archives: Team Z In the News

Ryan Pettengill, Sarah’s Slams

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The buoyancy of a wetsuit is a beautiful thing for weaker swimmers, but whether donning neoprene all the time is a good idea is up for debate. We’ll let Sara McLarty take it away with this month’s challenger, Ryan Pettingill, a coach with Washington, D.C.’s Team Z.

Sara: Just because a race is “wetsuit-legal” doesn’t mean that everyone has to wear a wetsuit! The USAT allows athletes to participate in a wetsuit up to 83.9 degrees. That’s crazy warm! Problems can easily arise from overheating. In a longer event, some athletes will spend an hour or two in the water without any hydration. The cramping and dehydration that can occur can be serious.

Ryan: I agree on the challenges of proper nutrition, and the disadvantage in cases of extreme heat. But saying that the USAT cutoff puts athletes at risk is a bit of an overstatement. The factors relating to heat-related illness are so individual that what works for some may not work for others—thus the wetsuit-optional rule. Keep in mind that triathletes have been known to suffer from hypothermia during the swim leg even during warm races.

RELATED: Finding Your Perfect Wetsuit Fit

Sara: In the summer, in many race locations, temps are pushing 90–100 degrees. I encourage anyone who is worried about heat issues during the bike and run to consider not starting out in a depleted state. Instead, use the first leg of the race to stay cool before a long, hot day.

Ryan: Everyday amateur triathletes experience a tremendous advantage from the buoyancy of an appropriate-fitting wetsuit. Because of this, athletes find it easier to maintain an efficient stroke and turnover (in some cases giving them the confidence to participate in the race in the first place). In a sense, wetsuits level the playing field. Wait a second … maybe that’s why you are looking to eliminate wetsuits! I’m on to your strategy here.

Sara: Ha, yes, but I’m happy that the pros’ cutoff temp is much lower. Considering the increased number of deaths during races, I don’t ever want someone to get in the water if they are not confident in their ability. A wetsuit is not a lifesaving device and should not be treated as one.

Ryan: Yes, athletes overestimating their abilities can be dangerous. But as a coach of a beginner-friendly team, most of my conversations are about the opposite—I try to encourage people who regularly swim thousands of yards in a pool to feel comfortable swimming much shorter distances in open water. The wetsuit often gives them the confidence to take on a challenge that they are already fully capable of doing without one.

Sara: Even a well-fitting suit can be constricting and claustrophobic, causing more panic, especially for athletes who have never tried a suit in open water. Increased restriction on the shoulders can also result in earlier fatigue during a race.

Ryan: If racers feel shoulder fatigue earlier than expected, it usually is because of a problem with their fit (like the shoulders being too narrow), or because they didn’t put it on properly. I disagree that most athletes typically experience shoulder fatigue that counteracts improvements in speed and endurance due to their improved body position in the water from wearing a wetsuit.

Triathlete’s verdict: The decision of whether to wear a wetsuit during a race should be made on a case-by-case basis—driven by race conditions, ambient temperature and the individual athlete’s comfort level and strength in the water. A proper wetsuit fit can make all the difference in terms of both comfort and efficiency.

Alexis and Cat interview at the Scope it Out

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Every year our Triathlon Team participates in a race called the Scope it Out 5k in Washington, DC.  As a team, we dress up in red shirts and red beanie caps that say “Catch the Polyp” in huge white billboard letters.  When we run the race – we are “all over the place” with these billboards in bright red shirts and caps – thanks to the diversity of our team.  Yes we are an adult, group triathlon training program – but we still like to play like children (while also giving back to our community)!

This race brings awareness to the fight against Colon Cancer – and its prevention and early detection.  This 5k was started in part by a Team Zr honoring the memory of her father – and we’ve continued proudly continued the tradition year after year!

Team Z Member Kate Morse, I Tri to Beat MS

From the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I focused my 
competitive nature on three goals: staying as active as possible; beating MS; 
and finding a cure. More importantly, I want to encourage others living with MS 
to stay active too. Not everyone with MS will complete a triathlon but, if I 
have my way, they’ll be more active.
 Each triathlete has his or her own reasons to compete in triathlons. My 
competitive nature is what led me to multisport; I came to the sport after years 
of competitive running in high school and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. My 
then boyfriend-now-husband had raced bicycles in high school and college and put 
me on my first road bike. Soon swimming followed. I was hooked on multisport. 
Little did I know what my “racecourse” would look like.

Continue reading Team Z Member Kate Morse, I Tri to Beat MS