We caught up with junior triathlete Heidi Henry, who is competing for the University of San Francisco, as well as internationally for Team Canada, to recap her season and share her triathlon journey.
Congratulations on your fantastic 2023 season, including competing at Junior World Triathlon Championships, and your team podium at the NCAA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships.
Can you share a bit about your Collegiate Triathlon World; How did you get connected with a University and NCAA triathlon team in the states?
I first reached out to coach Gina at the University of San Francisco at the end of summer in 2022 before I started my final year of highschool. We started talking and had a few zoom meetings before I came out here for an official visit in November and got to meet everyone on the team and see the city. Then about a week after, I committed to the team!
What is it like to be part of an NCAA team; how often are you training and racing? What is your favourite part of being on an NCAA team?
It is even better than I thought it would be to be a part of this team. Our coach Gina Kehr is so involved and really shows how much she cares about each person on the team and all the girls are all so close and we do so much together. I think my favourite part would be how everyone is so supportive of each other in and out of training. It has been a really great environment to be in and really is like a family. Also the training here in SF is amazing, there are so many different places to go and explore and we are right next to the Golden Gate Park.
Being in the NCAA also makes it a lot more doable to get a degree while training and traveling for racing so often. Our season starts pretty much right when school starts in mid august and goes until the beginning of november. We had 4 races including nationals and regionals.
This past season you also competed at the Junior World Triathlon Championships – what was the overall experience like, and how did the race day event unfold?
I definitely didn’t have the race I wanted to at junior worlds this year. I still had a great experience getting the opportunity to represent team Canada in Germany though and it was really motivating to watch the elite/pro athletes race on the same course and at such a big and spectator friendly event.
Can you share a bit of your history; how did you get into triathlon, and what propelled you into the performance pathway?
I have two sister’s who used to do triathlons that I followed behind, so seeing them compete all over the world definitely helped me to get into the performance pathway. Also growing up in Victoria, there are so many different kids and then development groups to train with and get into triathlon. I did ballet at the same time as triathlon until grade 12, so when I stopped and became more serious about racing I was able to train with the National performance Center for the year before I moved to SF.
You also compete in single sport events, such as road cycling and cyclocross – What are these events like, and how do they help with your triathlon goals?
Cycling is definitely my favourite part of the triathlon. My oldest sister is a professional cyclist so she got me into racing a couple years ago. I think that racing bikes outside of triathlon has helped me alot with my confidence on the bike in big groups and with my handling skills. Cyclocross especially is such a fun way to work on those important skills and there are so many different group rides and local events in Victoria.
What does your calendar of events and goals look like for 2024 and beyond?
My first race of the season will be at the Junior North American Championships in Miami. Then I will hopefully do some track racing with school while doing more continental cups in the spring before trying to qualify for Junior Worlds again this year.
Who is your sporting Idol?
I would have to say Flora Duffy. She is so strong and such a great role model. I always loved watching the way she races and trains.
What is your favourite pre race, and post race meal?
Either pasta or pizza the night before the race and a peanut butter and banana bagel with honey on it for pre race breakfast.
What’s on your pre race, or training, playlist?
I am a huge swiftie so Taylor Swift is always on all of my playlists.
Thanks so much for your time, congratulations on your performances so far this year, and we’re looking forward to seeing more great results in the future!