RHS freshman turns swimming hobby into new passion with triathlon
From the time she was a little girl, Mary Kate Beall felt a connection with the water.
As a child she would spend hours in the family pool playing and splashing around. When she got older she joined a swim team in Sheffield.
Now she has taken her swimming – not to mention running and bicycling – to a new level by participating in a triathlon.
"I've been swimming for a while and I thought it would be something I would like to try," said Beall, a freshman at Russellville High School.
Triathlons have a reputation of testing an athlete's endurance by challenging them to swim, run and ride a bicycle for long distances.
Beall was not worried about the swimming portion of the event because of her experience with the swim team.
She competes in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter freestyle and said the team practices five days every week throughout the year.
Although she is a seasoned swimmer, one aspect of triathlon swimming surprised her.
"When I was swimming I could not see," Bell said. " The water was not clear."
Instead of swimming in a pool, she was paddling through the Tennessee River in Scottsboro.
Even though the conditions were not what she was used to, Beall completed the 400-meter stage with the second-best time in her age group.
Actually, she did not finish worse than sixth among her age group in any of the stages and completed the triathlon in two hours, three minutes and 15 seconds.
That is not a bad result considering this was her first triathlon.
"I was happy with it, but I thought I could have done better," Beall said.
She said the running – a five-mile course – was the most difficult part of the triathlon because she had not spent much time practicing her running. She finished sixth in her age group.
Beall said the bike ride – on a course covering 15 miles – was easier than she thought because the course did not have many hills. She was fourth in that event.
Had it not been for swimming, Beall might never have tried to participate in a triathlon.
Kenny Marsh is the father of two of her teammates on the swim team.
He was the person that approached Beall about the opportunity.
"He is always trying to find a way to challenge us," Beall said.
Beall said the event was a challenge because although the overall length of the course was relatively short for a triathlon, the event was still very hard.
"I would like to do another one," Beall said. "But I haven't found any coming up."