Endurance: Jene Shaw

Jorgensen breaks out of comfort zone

April, 27, 2013
Gwen JorgensenRichard Heathcote/Getty ImagesReady to take go to the next level, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen has made changes that are paying off.
If her win at ITU WTS San Diego last Friday was any indication of what's to come, American Gwen Jorgensen has a promising year ahead.

Considering she earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team less than two years into her career, Jorgensen's raw talent has produced some early success. But after her Olympic campaign didn't go as planned—a bike mechanical took her out of medal contention pretty early—the almost-27-year-old decided she would need to step up her game and make some significant changes in order to medal in Rio in 2016.

Quick recap of Jorgensen's short multisport career: She got her start through USA Triathlon's Collegiate Recruitment Program in 2010, a result of her impressive swimming, track and field and cross-country prowess at the University of Wisconsin. She earned her elite card in her first triathlon, was named USAT Rookie of the Year in 2010 and, after some success on the ITU circuit in 2011, she secured one of the first Olympic team spots a year before the Games.

Fast-forward to life after the Olympics, and Jorgensen's perspective has changed on what needs to happen before another Olympic campaign. Late last year she started working with coach Jamie Turner, who heads a 10-person squad that splits training time between Wollongong, Australia, and Vitoria, Spain (she was formerly coached, mostly remotely, by Wisconsin-based Cindi Bannink). In January, Jorgensen and her boyfriend, Pat Lamieux, moved to Wollongong to focus strictly on her training in a group setting.

Jorgensen was drawn to Turner's coaching style and approach based on observing his interactions with other athletes. She decided to make the switch after racing the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand, where she finished second.

"I needed to change something, and thought this would get me to the next step—to have someone one-on-one at every workout to see what I'm doing wrong, and to have training partners to push me," Jorgensen says.

Turner and his squad of mostly Under-23 ITU athletes provide the daily challenge Jorgensen was lacking.

"The main thing Gwen was looking for was an environment," Turner says. "She needed to be in a daily performance environment instead of at home by herself doing workouts."

Plenty of Jorgensen's competitors have reaped the benefits of immersing themselves in a group environment—including fellow American Sarah Groff, who spent much of the year in Switzerland training in Darren Smith's competitive squad and ended up taking fourth in the Olympics.

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