Columnist's note: This is the 11th and final column in a series on local professional triathlete Katie Zaferes (n?e Katie Hursey) and her journey to becoming an Olympic-bound athlete.

SL: What are your thoughts on youth triathletes and the continued growth and popularity of the sport? Are we going to continue to see college opportunities/scholarships for triathletes?


KZ: I think triathlon will continue to grow. I'm so excited about the collegiate opportunities that are coming about and I really hope that the sport will continue to take off from there. It's incredible to see what colleges like ASU have invested in triathlon. It would be nice to see even more young athletes getting into the sport. I didn't even know what triathlon was until I was a senior in high school, and even then I just thought it was so awesome to be able to do a race with my dad. One of my favorite parts about triathlon is watching families do it together — not in an uber competitive way (though that can be fun too) but as a bonding activity that is good for all ages.

SL: What is the top advice you'd give to the average age-grouper? What advice would you give for competitive age-groupers who want to go elite or pro?

KZ: My [top] advice is to always remember to have fun and never lose sight of the reason you got into triathlon in the first place. The next advice is to focus on the process. Set big goals, but make sure to write down all the steps you need to do to get to that goal and stay focused on those. Finally I recommend taking your easy days easy and hard days hard. Build in the recovery days and go conversational pace on those. It's fun to train with a group, but some days you might have to do your own thing and stay true to yourself in order to get the most out of the session or the recovery.

SL: I read that you majored in Phys Ed. What would you be doing now if you hadn't become a pro triathlete? What do you envision doing when you retire from racing?

KZ: If I hadn't become a pro triathlete I would probably be back in school. I actually had applied to grad school at Towson to be in their Masters Community Health/Health Education program. When I retire from racing I would love to work in a health promotion/wellness field. I want to help people make lifestyle changes in order to find activities they enjoy that will keep them fit and healthy. In addition, I'd like to lead people to make changes in their diet while still being able to enjoy food. I want to help people get to the point where they are happy and comfortable with themselves.

SL: Are you living the dream?

KZ: There is no doubt about it — I am living the dream! There is nothing else I'd rather be doing and I am completely spoiled in that I get to experience all this with my husband by my side.