For the past nine years, the one constant in my race calendar has been the South Carroll Sprint Triathlon. Local and for a good cause, the June race has often served as the kickoff to my triathlon season.

However, the first four years I raced the SCST there was another constant: Katie Hursey.


From 2007-2009, the Hampstead native finished first in her age group and, by 2010,at the age of 21, was the top female finisher with a time of 1:10:27.

In addition to Katie's individual accomplishments, she and her father, Bill Hursey, placed first from 2008-2010 in the Father-Daughter team division and second of all teams in 2008 and 2010, with 2010 being particularly notable, personally, in that it was the year my husband and father-in-law bested the dynamic Hursey duo by mere seconds.

But there was another reason the Hursey name caught my attention: the name is all over the record board at the YMCA where I spend an hour or two each week logging laps and wishing I could post swim times as fast as those displayed in large plastic numbers on the wall.

In the years that followed, I would continue to see the Hursey name as Katie qualified for her elite card and began drawing attention for her winning performances at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup Races. I remember seeing a photo of Katie — victorious, hoisting the finish line tape overhead and sporting a USA singlet — and feeling proud.

A local girl living the dream.

Flash forward to December 2014 when I had the pleasure of meeting Katie's dad, Bill, at the YMCA and talking to him at length about Katie's triathlon adventures and her recent marriage to fellow triathlete Tommy Zaferes, and the highs and lows of having a child compete in races half way around the world—where a parent is relegated to sharing in the joy of victory or the agony of defeat or injury from afar. I remember thinking then that Katie's story was one I'd like to tell.

Two months ago, I practically rubbed swim paddles with the pro athlete herself. I've never been one to harbor celebrity crushes, but I admit to feeling starstruck when, after my regular Swim Fit class at the Y, I learned I'd been sharing a lane with Katie.

"You know who that is, right?" my Swim Fit instructor prompted, inclining her head to the sleek swimmer slicing effortlessly through the water. "That's Katie Hursey."

I decided the time had come to tell Katie's story. I reached out to Katie, told her that I'd met her father and had become intrigued by her journey to becoming a professional triathlete, and that, by the way, we'd recently shared a lap lane at the Y. Katie kindly agreed to be interviewed for my column and commented that she had admired my "smooth stroke."

Starstruck, indeed.

In the coming weeks, as Katie competes for a spot on the 2016 USA Olympic Triathlon Team, I invite you to get to know the local woman who has evolved from a talented child athlete to a professional triathlete with her sights set on Rio.

Columnist's note: This is the first in a series of columns on local professional triathlete Katie Zaferes. My March 6 column will feature Part One of my interview with Katie.