Lauren Brandon: the swimmer turned triathlete with her first Worlds under her belt

WE TALK to professional triathlete Lauren Brandon about entering the sport from a swimming career and the success she's had so far.


Lauren Brandon became interested in the sport of triathlon when she met her husband, a professional triathlete, in 2003.

LAUREN BRANDON was a competitive swimmer in 2003 when she met her future husband. He was a professional triathlete and she began to travel the world with him to watch him compete. 


Five years later Lauren ended her swimming career and worked towards her triathlete’s license. She gained it and a year later had achieved her elite card in the sport making her a professional.

Here Lauren talks about the places and races around the world that the sport has taken her so far and talks about the achievement of qualifying for this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona.


When did you start out in triathlon and who inspired you to give the sport a go?


I met my husband my freshman year of college in 2003. He had just become a professional triathlete and so I began learning about triathlons then. At the time I was swimming, so I knew that if I ever wanted to do a triathlon, it would be after my swim career. I remember going to watch him race in 2004 and that was the first time I had ever been to a triathlon. I was amazed by all of the people competing in the event and I really enjoyed the racing atmosphere and loved the triathlon community.


After watching my husband train and race all over the world for about six years and after my swim career ended in 2008, I finally got to compete in my first triathlon. I was so excited to start a new challenge and begin racing again.


My first race was the Pacific Grove Triathlon in 2009 and I remember barely being able to ride a bike. I had only been on my bike a few times and I was very happy when that portion was over! The swim and run went pretty well and I think I was the 7th overall female amateur. I figured that I did a decent job and so I gave myself one year to qualify for my professional license or I would get a job in my profession as an Early Childhood Special Education Specialist. I ended up getting my pro card in a year and I now have been a professional triathlete for the past seven years and continuing to get better each year.


Tell us about your previous success as a swimmer?


I started swimming competitively when I was five years old and swam until 2008 (almost 20 years of swimming). Swimming was definitely something that I had natural talent in and saw success right away. When I was 10, I was second in the nation in the 100 fly and I ended up getting a full scholarship to the University of Nebraska to swim under gold medallist Pablo Morales. In college, I won three Big 12 Championship individual titles and I was an NCAA All- American. I finished my career at the 2008 Olympic Trials where I swam the 400 free and the 800 free. I also dabbled in some open water races and placed 5th in the 5k and 10k at the US Nationals. I also qualified for the World Championship Trials in the 10k, but unfortunately was having too many shoulder issues to finish the race, so I retired from swimming in 2008.



Lauren competed in the sport of swimming for 20 years before embarking on a career as a triathlete.

What were some of your earliest triathlon successes?


After my first triathlon, I told myself that I would give it one year to try and get my elite license so that I could race as a professional. I did three races in 2010 and was able to get my pro card at the end of that year. I wouldn’t say that I had a ton of ‘success’ right away because I was so new to the sport and new to biking and running. My only professional win to date is the Memphis in May triathlon in 2014. I have had quite a few podiums, but still looking to get some more wins.


I think my ‘success’ has to do with me continuing to improve each year and falling more in love with this sport. I enjoy training, racing, and working hard to become the best athlete that I can be. One of my most memorable races was getting 2nd at Ironman Cozumel at the end of last year. It was my first Ironman podium and I put together a great race. That gave me the confidence to continue on this Ironman journey and to try and qualify for Kona (Ironman World Championships).


Who have been your biggest mentors and supporters along the way?


My husband, Barrett (who is also a professional triathlete), has been my biggest mentor and supporter. He has actually been my coach these past seven years and I have enjoyed sharing this journey of being professional athlete with him. I think my progression as a triathlete was a bit slower than we had hoped, but we have just worked hard and continued to make small steps each year. He believes in me and has helped me to have confidence in my ability and my future in the sport.


In which discipline of triathlon do you have to work the hardest and which comes most naturally to you?


During the last couple of years of my swim career, I raced open water swims, so that transition was easy coming into triathlon. My biking has definitely progressed nicely throughout the years and I spend a lot of hours training on the bike. In 2009, I had only rode a bike a few times and I remember that I couldn’t even take my hands off of the handlebars in order to grab my water bottle. Now, I often have one of the fastest bike splits at my races. I think that I have a great aerobic system from so much swimming over the years and that has translated into me being able to ride well. I am continuing to get stronger, especially over the Ironman distance, and I am definitely excited for more fast bike splits to come.


Running has been the toughest of the three disciplines for me. I am always getting injured, so I have to be very careful about how much I run and know when I need to take some time off so that things never get too bad. When I raced Olympic distances, my longest runs were race day when I ran 6 miles. When I moved up to 70.3 (half Ironman) distance, my longest runs were race day when I ran 13 miles. Now I am doing Ironmans and it still amazes me that I can run a marathon! I never thought that I would be able to run 26 miles.


I think my biking strength helps me get through the marathon, but I do hope that I will continue to get stronger and faster running. I have had to have a lot of patience when it comes to running, but I know that I will improve more as I can run more consistently.



Lauren credits her husband, Barrett, as being her biggest supporter and mentor in the sport.

What have been your biggest triathlon triumphs and where in the world has the sport taken you?


This sport has taken me all over the world. I’ve been to places such as Dubai, China a couple of times, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, and many more countries. I absolutely love traveling and seeing the world through this sport. I have yet to have a perfect race and that’s why I continue to train hard and someday I hope to have that race that I will never forget.


Tell us about your experience of Ironman races?


I have yet been able to put together a great Ironman. I have always been able to put together a strong two of the three disciplines, but struggled in the other. I have now finished four Ironman races over these past 18 months, but I started five. My first one was Ironman New Zealand, which was an unbelievable place. My mom travelled with me and we had a wonderful time. Unfortunately I got really dizzy in the transition from my bike to run and I was unable to finish. We watched people cross the finish line for a couple of hours and I got tears in my eyes every time someone crossed the line. I knew that I wanted to sign up for another one and I tried again a couple of months later.


This past year, I was able to gain enough points through my racing to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, where I will be headed soon! Only thirty-five professional women qualify for World’s so I am so excited for the opportunity to race the best in less than two weeks.



This year Lauren qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

How hard are you currently training and which events and races do you have coming up in months ahead?


I just finished my final hard workouts in my prep for Kona. Today was my first day off from training in three weeks and it was so nice to have a bit of down time and to catch up on everything! Kona had been my focus for the year and I could not be more excited for not only my race, but for the entire Kona experience. I don’t have any races planned for after Kona because it depends on whether or not my body feels ready for a break. If I still feel good and want to race, I will do one or two more 70.3 races. I definitely won’t race another Ironman until next season since I have done quite a few this past year. The body will rest up and get ready for 2018!

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