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Zaferes' journey to becoming pro

Columnist's note: This is the second in a series of columns on local professional triathlete Katie Zaferes. (Née Katie Hursey.) Part one of my interview with Katie focused on her background and her journey to becoming a pro.

SL: You were an accomplished swimmer as a child. How old were you when you joined the swim team? Was there ever a time you thought you might swim for a college team?


KZ: I was about 8 years old when I first started swimming. I began with the summer swim team at the local pool. The summer team was more for fun. When I started swimming in the winter at the YMCA that was more "serious."

I swam at [the Carroll County YMCA] until I was a senior in high school and then I finished out my last year of swimming at Four Seasons Sports Club with coach Mike Kremer. However, by that time I had already decided that I would be running in college and therefore really wasn't that focused on swimming. When I first started looking at colleges I looked at colleges where I could . . . swim and run.


But even though I had more background in swimming, I wasn't really fast enough to get recruited. Colleges noticed me for my running success in high school. I remember thinking when I was picking a school, "no matter where I go, swimming will still continue to be part of my lifestyle." That quickly changed when running Division I at college I realized fairly quickly that the only swimming I would be doing was for class credit.

Besides that I think I went to the pool twice during my time at Syracuse.

SL: I read on your website that you played multiple sports as a child. Did you have a favorite? A least favorite?

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KZ: My favorite was always soccer. I actually cried the day I switched from soccer to cross country. Originally I started running track my sophomore year of high school to stay in shape for soccer. I won a couple state titles in my first year [of track], but still went out for the soccer team that fall. However, on picture day I changed my mind. I ended up switching from a soccer uniform to a cross country uniform the same day.

It was such a hard decision for me. I don't really have a least favorite [sport], just a lot of sports that didn't stick for some reason or another.

SL: You and your dad raced together at the South Carroll Sprint Triathlon, so your father is obviously an athlete, too. Do you come from a family of athletes? Was fitness and exercise a regular part of life growing up?

KZ: My [parents] were athletes growing up and through high school and college. We were an active family. I have no idea how my mom balanced everything. I wouldn't have had it any other way, but it's crazy to think about all the chauffeuring that [my mom] did.

My older sister, Kristen, was also a runner and that was a big thing for when I switched to running. I didn't want to stomp on her domain. She was so welcoming and it was kind of cool being on the same [track] team for one year. My little sister, Karly, is a swimmer and [she] stuck with swimming. She is currently competing for Bloomsburg University in Pa.