By Blythe Lawrence | May 18, 2019, 10:18 a.m. (ET)

(L-R) Katie Zaferes, Taylor Spivey and Summer Rappaport hug after finishing first, third and second, respectively at the World Triathlon Series stop on May 18, 2019 in Yokohama, Japan.

 

An undefeated-in-2019 Katie Zaferes and Team USA teammates Summer Rappaport and Taylor Spivey each claimed a piece of the podium at the World Triathlon Series stop Saturday in Yokohama, Japan, completing only the fourth-ever American sweep at a WTS event.

A burst of speed by Zaferes during the final 500 meters of the 10 km gave the 29-year-old Olympian her third consecutive victory of the season, this time over the surging Rappaport, who was neck and neck with her the entire race. But just as she did on March 8 in the season opener in Abu Dhabi and on April 27 in Bermuda, Zaferes found a way to cross the line first, clocking a winning time of 1 hour, 52 minutes and 12 seconds to Rappaport’s 1 hour, 52 minutes and 33 seconds.

“Summer pushed me on the run for the whole entire thing,” Zaferes said after the race. “I tried to be more tactical with the little pushes, and that last lap I just really knew to push the hill and continue pushing over it, because I didn’t know if she was coming up behind me.” 

Rappaport’s silver medal was the second World Triathlon Series medal of her career and first since 2016, when she took gold at a series stop in Edmonton, Canada, the last time the U.S. swept a triathlon podium. Yokohama was a breakthrough for the 27-year-old, who had not placed in the top five at a WTS event since July 2017. 

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“I’ve been working hard, and I’ve seen a lot of gains, but I just wasn’t able to transfer it into my racing,” said Rappaport, who admitted to being disappointed by her 35th place finish at the WTS season opener in Abu Dhabi. “Today I was able to work with myself and make everything click. I feel like I just saw my work finally come through.”

Spivey, a former NCAA swimmer for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, outdueled Japan’s Yuko Takahashi during the final laps of the footrace to take bronze in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 29 seconds. The 28-year-old credited the 40 km bike ride as the place where the U.S. women broke out to challenge for the lead — and the sweep.

“Our bike pack worked so hard. I think I was just redlining the whole time, trying to make a pull and help the group,” Spivey said. “(The podium sweep) is pretty incredible. I saw the two girls battling out at the front, and I just did my best to get that third spot.”

With a perfect score of 3,000 points after Yokohama, Zaferes remains at the top of the WTS standings. She has been part of each of the four U.S. sweeps at WTS events, with each before Yokohama having come in 2015 or 2016.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.