Get to know Kendall Gretsch, dare2tri Elite Team athlete and most recently the 2014 Paratriathlon National Champion in the PT1 division, as she provides answers for the Q&A below:
1. What’s your story/background?
I was born with spina bifida and grew up swimming for my neighborhood and high school swim teams.
2. What is your specific involvement with dare2tri?
This past season was my first year as an Elite Team member, but I have been involved with dare2tri since the summer of 2012. I always have an amazing time at dare2tri events, so I try and attend as many as I can.
3. How long have you been involved with dare2tri?
Since the summer of 2012, so just over 2 years.
4. Why did you get involved with dare2tri?
The summer following my sophomore year of college I wanted to start swimming again after not swimming since going away to school. I decided to attend a Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association swim practice, which is where I met Keri (dare2tri Executive Director & Co-Founder). I quickly learned that Keri is not one to pass up the opportunity to get people involved in adaptive sports. By the end of the two hour practice I was signed up for a regional swim meet, practicing in a racing wheelchair for the first time, and committed to dare2tri’s 3-day triathlon camp.
After attending the camp and completing my first triathlon, I was hooked. Meeting Keri that day changed my life, and I am so grateful I have been involved with dare2tri ever since.
5. Is there a specific moment with dare2tri that sticks out in your mind? If so, what is it?
Crossing the finish line of my first triathlon will always be one of my favorite dare2tri memories. Coming from swimming where my longest race was less than 8 minutes, it was unimaginable to me to race for close to 2 hours. It was exhilarating crossing the finish line and thinking about what I had accomplished. It is a feeling I still get at every finish line and one of the reasons I love racing.
6. What would you like others to know about dare2tri?
The dare2tri community is unbelievably welcoming and friendly. No matter what their experience with triathlon is, dare2tri will welcome anyone who wants to get involved and provide the resources to help them achieve their goals.
7. What does dare2tri mean to you?
I can’t express how grateful I am for dare2tri. From day one, dare2tri has supported me as a triathlete. From equipment to coaching, they have provided the resources and support system that have allowed me to become an elite athlete, something I never thought I would say.
I think one of the reasons it took me 20 years to get involved with adaptive sports is that it meant admitting to myself that I have a disability. Growing up, I never wanted to be treated differently or limited by anyone. Dare2tri has taught me that by not participating in adaptive sports, I was the one limiting myself from reaching my full potential as an athlete. Thanks to dare2tri, I have accomplished goals that two years ago I never would have dreamed of having.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share?
There is a certain energy at dare2tri events that once you experience, it is easy to understand why dare2tri impacts so many lives. Look around at any dare2tri event and you will see first-time athletes, elite athletes, and volunteers all working together and helping one another become better athletes. It’s impossible not to be inspired.