Gwen Jorgensen swam and ran for the University of Wisconsin and was introduced to triathlon by Barb Lindquist and USAT. Fast forward a year and she is now racing ITU World Cup events. Watch out for this fast rising American who turns 25 later this April. Slowtwitch had a few words with her.
Slowtwitch: Gwen it appears the 2011 season has started in earnest.
Gwen: Yes, it has started and it is in full swing.
ST: Your thoughts on your Mooloolaba performance?
Gwen: I think you can never be completely satisfied as there are always areas where you can improve. I had a solid swim and run. I have to keep developing my bike skills and power; fortunately USAT has been helping the USA athletes in this area. Recently USAT put on a bike clinic, brining in a USA Cycling coach to help us with our skills. It was extremely helpful!
ST: Going into Mooloolaba, what was your target for the race?
Gwen: My number one goal is always to have fun. I accomplished that! It was awesome to race against the best triathletes in the world. I learned a lot from them and am excited to practice and improve.
ST: How rough was the swim?
Gwen: The ocean waves were the most intense I’ve ever raced in. There was a huge current and the swells made it difficult to sight. I was surprised at how little pushing/pulling there was amongst the competitors. I was happy to not have to deal with a physical swim when the ocean was giving us enough to battle with.
ST: Coming out the water you were 15th it appears, just ahead of Paula Findlay. Was that the position you thought you should be in?
Gwen: I was shocked (in a good way) at the position I was in exiting the water; although, I should not have been as my swim coach with the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Club has been working hard to get my swim where it should be. I was excited and ready to race when I saw the people I was around exiting the water.
ST: Talk about the bike segment.
Gwen: I must have had a slow transition because I ended up in the second bike pack. There were a lot of crashes and I managed to stay upright; however, I also got dropped. I ended up doing a TT during some of the bike, until a third pack caught me. I rode the rest of the race in this pack. It started to downpour, causing more crashes. It was intense, but a great learning experience. The bike segment showcased my weaknesses and it showed me I still have a lot to learn, which is exciting – I am eager to learn more. USAT athletes and coaches have been extremely helpful. I spent time in Clermont training with some athletes who helped me out. I am also fortunate to have Tom Schuler in Wisconsin, and my coach, Cindi Bannink, to help me improve my bike.
ST: If you could pick a weakness would you say you would keep it as is, with your biking needing improvement?
Gwen: Can I pick no weakness? To compete at the highest level in this sport you have to have no weakness.
ST: You can certainly pick no weakness. Along those lines, you recorded the 2nd fastest run split behind Vendula Frintova, so clearly no worries about the run.
Gwen: I have a God given talent in running; right now my focus is on swimming and biking.
ST: When you say you still need to work on your swim, do you mean open water
swimming or the swim in general?
Gwen: Both. Right now I am trying to get my swim at a level where I can come out of the water and get in a competitive bike pack.
ST: Where did you go to college?
Gwen: University of Wisconsin-Madison. Go Badgers!
ST: You competed in both swimming and running, when did you start with triathlon?
Gwen: Last year was my first year of triathlon. I never seriously considered competing in triathlons until Barb Lindquist and the college recruitment program with USAT contacted me. Ever since starting triathlons, I’ve been thrilled – the people in this sport are like a second family to me.
ST: You know you will make a lot of folks cry when they find out that you just
started with triathlon a year ago and now you are already competing in World
Gwen: I sure hope not! The only reason I have come as far as I have is because I have the best support system and people behind me. I hope I can inspire others to follow dreams, and to do their best in whatever it is their heart desires.
ST: So when did you get your Elite license?
Gwen: I earned my elite license in my first race last year at the EDR in Clermont, Florida.
ST: What is next for you?
Gwen: I will be heading to Mazatlan.
ST: How about the rest of the season?
Gwen: Monterrey is up next after Mazatlan. After that, my schedule is yet to be determined; however, I would like to compete in a few WCS races.
ST: Any races or locations you look particularly forward to?
Gwen: All of them - I love traveling to new places and experiencing different cultures. I especially like trying new foods and hanging out with other triathletes.
ST: What is going on for you on the sponsor front?
Gwen: I am on Team Timex this year. It is a team, which is unusual for sponsorship in the triathlon world. I love having teammates – it’s exciting and energizing to have teammates to follow, talk to, share ideas with and cheer for. I am also extremely lucky to have David Hobbs Honda as a sponsor. I drive a Honda Insight – which gets me to practices easily without having to spend a lot of money on gas. It’s environmentally friendly, and easily fits my bike in the back. I love it! I am still looking for independent sponsors to help with living expenses, and am searching for a running shoe sponsor ☺
ST: Can you talk to us about your diet?
Gwen: Sure. This is actually an area of weakness for me. Some days I eat great – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, meat, etc. Other days I gorge on ice cream and chocolate and forget to eat meat. I am still trying to make nutrition a discipline; however, it is difficult for me. I usually eat what I want, when I want. I am fortunate in that I don’t have to worry about weight; growing up my parents used to make me special meals with meat and shakes in order to help me keep weight on.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Gwen: Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet. It’s about a high-functioning British autistic boy. Very interesting – it was given to me by my aunt Liz (most books I read are recommendations from family and friends).
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Gwen: I am a CPA working for Ernst & Young, LLP.
Also, I am fortunate to have the support I do – my family, friends, coworkers, coaches, the Walter Schroeder Aquatic Club, and USAT do more for me than I could ever ask for. Daily, I wake up and feel undeservingly blessed. I couldn’t compete in triathlons if it weren’t for the support I receive from them – if I succeed it is only because they are there behind me.
ST: How do you juggle your job with racing all over the world?
Gwen: Ernst & Young (EY) has been extremely flexible, allowing me to do both. I work part time for EY and take my computer wherever I travel, so I can work while I'm traveling. I'm blessed to be able to do both.