Swim, bike, run: A conversation with Queens triathletes

The Queens Chronicle sat down with two recent triathlon winners from Queens, Graham Pimentel ’19 and Jessica Tomasek ‘19.  Pimentel was the first ever winner for the Queens triathlon program after winning the Wilmington YMCA Sprint on Sept. 19 with a time of 1:04.42, while Tomasek became the first winner for the women’s team at the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Conference meet on Oct. 17 with a time of 2:16.40.  What’s most impressive about their victories?  Both athletes are freshmen.

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Queens Chronicle: What goes into training for the triathlon?

Graham Pimentel Photo compliments of Queens AthleticsQueens Athletics

Graham Pimentel
Photo from Queens Athletics

Graham Pimentel: A lot goes into training for the triathlon. I usually train for about 25 hours a week, so quite a bit of time goes into it. Lots of swims, I usually have five swims a week, six runs a week, five bikes a week. You’re doing a lot; there are multiple practices a day. You gotta include some strength work to stay healthy. When you’re at a high level you’re training a lot.

QC: What kind of diet do you eat to keep up with all of that?

GP: I make sure to get everything my body needs like the protein, and the carbs, and the vegetables and everything like that, but I’m not too strict about it. It’s more about the performance in your training, but you still need to give your body what it needs like before workouts and after workouts.

QC: So what led you to coming to and competing here at Queens, as well as what do you like about it?

GP: I chose to come to Queens because triathlon isn’t an NCAA sport for men, so not many schools at all give scholarships for it, and it [was] a great opportunity when Queens said they’d give me a scholarship for it. So it was like a last minute thing, they told me in December, [when] I was already looking at schools in Florida, big schools, and I never would have thought of coming up here to North Carolina. They offered me one so I was like, “Heck yeah I’ll do it,” and so that’s what happened there. I’ve loved it here, [it’s got] great training place, the swimming’s great because we have an awesome pool and an awesome program, and the running’s great with all the trails and everything. So yeah, it’s a great place to be, especially with a great coach in Sonni Dwyer.

QC: So where are some of the places you compete, are lots of the competitions in the area or are they all over the place?

GP: We competed at Liberty University in Pennsylvania for conference just a couple of weeks ago, so that’s a little far away. We competed in Wilmington, along the coast of North Carolina. We’ll compete in South Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina for national championships in March. So yeah, we travel a little bit.

QC: How does it feel, for one, winning at all, and two, for making history at Queens in being its first ever triathlon winner?

GP: Yeah, it feels really good. I’m glad to be a pioneer in the sport of triathlon here at Queens University. It’s an honor, and it feels great to be doing that for the team.

QC: What are your expectations for the rest of the season?

GP: I expect our team to be national champions by my junior and senior year. That’s pretty much our expectations for the men’s side.

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Queens Chronicle: Starting with the basics, what goes into training for the triathlon?

Jessica Tomasek Photo compliments of Queens AthleticsQueens Athletics

Jessica Tomasek
Photo from Queens Athletics

Jessica Tomasek: A lot of training: it’s swimming, biking, and running, so we have to train for three sports, not just one. I’m in the pool every day, 11:30 to 1, and then there [are] run workouts throughout the week, as well. Usually a couple of days a week I’ll be doing a run workout, as well as a couple of days a week I’ll be doing a bike workout. We’re training on the weekends, as well, so not just the weekdays. We’re basically always training (laughs).

QC: Sounds like a busy schedule.

JT: Right.

QC: What kind of diet do you have to eat to keep up with your training?

JT: Well some athletes don’t always follow the best diet, but I personally try to eat clean. So, like, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, good proteins and carbs, which is a little hard to do eating at the [dining hall], but I try to eat fairly healthy most of the time.

QC: So what led you to coming to and competing at Queens?

JT: So last year I competed at the NCAA women’s national championships in Florida at this time, so it’s literally the same race I’m going to this weekend. I’ve been racing since I was 11, so basically I got to the point that I was competitive enough to be invited as a high schooler to that race. So that’s where I was recruited.

QC: That’s pretty impressive.

JT: Yeah, thank you. So I was recruited at that race, even though I crashed into a fence at that race. But the coach, Sonni Dwyer, still saw I had something, as well as my results from previous years. So I guess I was good enough to get a scholarship for triathlon.

QC: So I learned from Graham that this is Queens’ first year competing in triathlon. So what does it mean to you to not just win a race, but also be the first female athlete to win in triathlon for Queens?

JT: It’s really a big honor. I’m really happy with Queens as a whole, [and] being able to represent such a prestigious university for triathlon. It’s cool that I get to be leading a little bit in how this sport is changing and I’m just excited with how it’s progressing overall. Overall it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to race for the school and just be a part of the whole change in the sport.

QC: What expectations do you have for the remainder of the season?

JT: Well the season is pretty much coming to a close, but in the spring we’ll be racing collegiate nationals, so more of the club teams throughout the country. They’re all training up and we’ll be racing in South Carolina. So I hope to do pretty well there. I don’t really know my competition very well yet because I’m a freshman, but I’m hoping to do pretty well at that race and get a pretty good feel for the competition as a whole.

QC: So I’m assuming your training is year-round?

JT: Right. Especially the swim training, we’ll be training all year round. As well as the bike and run. We’ll be doing a little bit of a different type of training in the winter, we’ll be doing more base-building training [for longer], but we’ll pretty much be going all year round.

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Tomasek and the women’s team compete again this weekend in the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship in Clermont, Fla.  Both teams will complete their season in April at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club Championships.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.