From Pool to Podium: Anja’s Triathlon Triumph

“It felt like I was running on air.”

Anja Krueger’s words describe her out-of-body experience during the Long Beach Legacy Triathlon.

 

During the 2023 triathlon season, Anja Krueger made the leap from competitive swimming to triathlon, faced challenges head-on, and emerged victorious.

Anja’s introduction to triathlon began with a proposition from Manitoba Triathlon Centre coach Gary Pallet to compete at the 2022 Canada Summer Games. “After competing successfully at Canada Games, coming away with a second and third place, I was hooked on the sport.” Despite committing to another year of swimming with the University of British Columbia, Anja couldn’t resist the appeal of triathlon. “I quickly realized I had found my passion for sport again in a whole new way,” she reflects.

“Under the guidance of Gary Pallet and Patrick Kelly, I navigated the tricky transition from water to land, and was able to make a successful switch to the sport in the spring of 2023.”

During this period, Anja moved to Victoria and transferred to the University of Victoria (UVIC) to work with coach, Patrick Kelly. Anja’s studies at UVIC mean much of her training takes place on the West Coast, but once classes end, there’s a welcome familiarity training at home. “My mornings were spent doing the familiar drive to get a swim in at Pan Am Pool, or running local trails and roads in East St. Paul.” Anja found comfort in the familiar surroundings of Birds Hill Park. “Birds Hill is truly a great training venue for triathlon,” she affirms. “With the lake, an 11 km bike loop, and lots of paths to run on, it served as my main place to put the work in over the spring and summer.”

Her 2023 racing season started locally, competing in the Sprint events at Birds Hill Triathlon and St Malo Triathlon, winning the Provincial Championship at the latter. Reflecting on the significance of local races, Anja emphasizes their role in shaping her success. “I honestly do not believe I would have achieved the same level of success that I did last season if it were not for racing some of the local races in Manitoba prior to racing on the national and international stage,” she admits. “The Birds Hill (Triple Threat) Triathlon and the St. Malo Triathlon were great opportunities to test myself in a fun environment.”

This transition reached its peak with triumphant performances at Continental Cup races in Montreal and Long Beach, California, where Anja secured third and first places, respectively.

Despite her accomplishments, Anja remains grounded, acknowledging the uncertainties of her journey. “I am not sure I was fully prepared for the results I achieved in Montreal and Long Beach. I was confident I was ready to run fast, and I knew, despite being nervous about the open water tactics in the swim, that my years of experience in the water would carry me through, I was wholly unprepared to have everything fall into place the way that it did.”

A year on from her breakout success in 2023, Anja continues her pursuit of excellence. “Moving into the 2024 season, the main focus remains experience in both training and racing,” she asserts. “The aim is to continue to achieve success at the level of Continental Cups while exploring some newer, more challenging territory at the World Cup level.”

As Anja continues to carve her path in the world of triathlon, her story resonates as a source of inspiration for athletes everywhere. Triathlon Manitoba eagerly awaits the next chapter in Anja’s extraordinary journey.

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