Meet Jessica Bottelberghe, a Bronco who can swim and run

By Jessica Bottelberghe | Feb. 09, 2016, 11:01 a.m. (ET)
Hello everyone!

My name is Jessica Bottelberghe and my journey to triathlon first began when my parents decided to take me swimming to drain the energy out of me. Growing up in Vancouver WA, I always had a knack for sports. My parents started hiding sports from me so I wouldn’t have to try them all.  I picked things up quickly, and I loved to compete. All throughout middle school, I was a standout in CYO swimming, running and basketball. I think I still hold a few of those little kid records. Come high school, I had to narrow my athletics down just to swimming and track. I couldn’t make basketball practice because it was too much of a team sport. When I say this, I mean if I missed a basketball practice for swim practice then I wasn’t allowed to play. I was not going to miss swim practice because I had summer nationals to qualify for.

I was solely focused on swimming, but ran track in the off season because I happened to have some speed and loved to win. Pretty soon, I had high school records in the pool and out on the track. I had my eyes set on competing for a Division 1 school for swimming, until my high school track coach, Jaysun Pyatt, said I should seriously consider running too. This small conversation was life changing. Pretty soon, a variety colleges started expressing interest either in my swimming or in my running. When the official recruiting season came around, I made it aware to my colligate suitors that if they wanted me on their team, then they would have to let me do both sports.

I was unaware at the time that it was unusual to demand to do more than one sport at a Division 1 college, especially the combination of swimming and running. Swimmers usually swim because they can’t run and runners generally hate the pool because it means they are injured. 

I narrowed down my search, signed with Boise State University, became a Bronco and never looked back. I swam all 4 years with only running in the Track season when swim season was over. I completed my swimming career with four Mountain West titles, 13 All-MW honors and a NCAA appearance. Here are a few of my PRs: 100FR 49.86, 200FR 1.47.5r, 200FLY 1.58.6, 200IM 2.00.61, and 200BK 1.59.65.

Upon finishing my swimming eligibility last March and earning a degree in mechanical engineering, Barb Lindquist reached out to me through the Collegiate Recruitment Program. This is where I was formally introduced to the sport of triathlon. I had the opportunity to spend 9 days last summer down at the OTC to learn the basics of what it takes to be an elite triathlete. I also had a chance to experiment with the road bike. Who knew that my competitive personality would lead to me being too brave on the bike? I ended up having to get a few stitches in my knee while Jessica Welk, USAT High Performance Program Coordinator, provided me with moral support. At first, I will have to admit I was terrified the OTC tour groups were going to get to watch me squirm. Going out for blood in competition may be fun, but dealing with it is quite frightening.

Since then, I have taken a 5th year of running to focus on building a base and start exploring my untapped potential. Throughout my undergrad years, I only ran outdoor track, focusing on the 800m. I knew I was going to work towards an MBA at Boise State, so I red-shirted my senior year of track. This school year is my first time running 3 seasons.  Yes, that means as a 5th year senior, I ran cross country and indoor track for the first time. I take my recovery days seriously. 
Since Boise State’s Career Track MBA program is a two year full time program, I have had the opportunity to start working with Barb Lindquist and Coach Ian Murray (TTS) as a Bona Fide CRP Recruit. I will complete my first triathlon March 5th and 6th down in Clermont, Florida. I can’t wait to let you know how it goes!

It was nice to meet you! Happy Training ☺