Athlete of the Month, February 2011 - Sandra Lopez

Triathlete running to the finish of an Ironman
January 31, 2017

Mike Ricci



Can you tell us a little bit about your sports background? Which sports did you do as a kid and as you got older?

I grew up playing soccer and from 6th-9th grade played year round on a travel team. In HS, I joined the swim team and was surprisingly good. I also played water polo in HS, at both the HS and club level. In college, I played water polo my first two years and swam all four years. After college, I took a break from everything, until 2007 when I started swimming again, trying to get my Olympic Trial cut. Missed my OT cut and officially "retired" from swimming in 2008. In early 2010, I decided I wanted to run a marathon, so in October I did.

What is your current job and what do you do?

I am the National Events Coordinator at USA Swimming. I help put on all the elite level swim meet in the US, including Nationals, Jr Nationals and Olympic Trials.

Where do you currently live and how is the training in the area?

Castle Rock, CO.  For the most part, I train on my own.

What was your motivation to get started in triathlon?

While training for my marathon, I entered a triathlon on a whim. I figured the run would be easy since I had been training for the last few months, the swim was only 500yds and I could do that in my sleep and I could just "wing it" for the bike. After I was done, I was hooked!

Who is your coach? How long?

Mark Dillard since October 2010. He's been GREAT!

What is your best triathlon moment?

Being in the stand to watch the finish of the 2010 IMAZ from 11:30pm -11:59pm. People were dancing and cheering and even Chrissie Wellington was there at the finish line handing out medals. It was amazing and gives me chills just thinking about it.

What's in your race future?

2011 "A" races are 70.3 Texas in April and IMAZ in November. I'm also contemplating doing the USMS 10K Nat'l Champs in June, since I'll be there for work anyway.

What is your favorite of the three sports?

You would think with my swimming background, it would be the swim, but I really enjoy running the most.

What are your long term goals in triathlon?

Once I get a few seasons under my belt and get a better grasp on training and racing, I would like to see how competitive I can be in my age division (sticking to the Sprint and Oly distances).

If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?

I'm not sure. Since I'm still new to the sport, I'd be happy to train with anyone with experience and could give me pointers on how to be more efficient on the bike and run. Since I work down at the Olympic Training Center, I've already worked out next to some of the bigger names in triathlon (little did they know that I was watching them closely while trying to stay somewhat focused on my training).

What's your favorite workout?

For running, it would be the Sunday LSD runs. For swimming, I love 200's LCM.

What your least favorite workout?

The only time I dread workouts are when they are the recovery, ez swims. I'm not a fan of the garbage yardage, but I know they're important.

How do you reward yourself after a hard day of training?

On the couch, watching a movie and falling asleep early.

Tell us something interesting about you.

-I'm a 3x NCAA Div.II Swimming National Champion and former NCAA record holder.

-At IMAZ last November, I volunteered with doping control and was the USADA chaperon for Chrissie Wellington after she won.

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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