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August Athlete Spotlight - Meet Tom Sawyer

Meet our August Athlete Spotlight, Thomas Sawyer! Tom has been swimming, cycling, and running for as long as he can remember. He continues to do the sport now alongside his wife, Paula, and this active couple is reaching new heights together. While Paula has been doing more trail running lately, Tom has focused on swim training and extending the distance. He recently completed the Lake George Swim Challenge, swimming 32 miles in less than 8 weeks. Keep it up, Tom!

Tom and Paula at the CapTex Tri in Austin.

Age: 58

Occupation: Mortgage Licensing trainer for Rocket Mortgage. I started a couple years ago and even before Covid, I was working 100% virtual. This is great for training because it affords me a lot of flexibility.

How long have you been swimming, cycling, running, and/or doing triathlons? For as long as I can remember. I swam a couple seasons in high school and college intramurals, and running was always a thing to do in the Army. As a kid, I rode my bike everywhere. When I was stationed at Fort Ord, I watched the Monterey Bay Triathlon and thought to myself “I can do that…” I entered the Santa Cruz Sentinel Triathlon in 1989 - my first - and I was hooked.

Tom at the Santa Cruz Sentinel Triathlon

What aspects of triathlon do you enjoy most? I enjoy the structure of the training and challenging myself to do the workout each day no matter how lazy I feel. My teammates keep me motivated and inspired, but sometimes Paula has to kick me out the door.

What has been your favorite training or racing event, and why? I used to say cycling was my favorite event. Back in the beginning, triathlons were a mass start event so if you passed someone or got passed, you knew for sure you were gaining or giving up a spot. I would pass a lot of people during the bike, but I was always the one to say “what the bike giveth, the run taketh away…” But lately I’ve taken to swimming. I am interested in doing some long distance open water swims next year.

What is your favorite post-workout or race meal? I don’t really have a go to meal for post-workout or race meal. But always a fan of a good burger or pizza.

What is one recent accomplishment you are proud of? So much to be proud of lately – Paula is doing great with her training, our kids are doing well, everyone is healthy. The past few years have been very challenging for us for a variety of reasons but we are through it now and growing and thriving as a family. That’s pretty cool.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to be a fighter pilot (Pablo – I’m jealous!!). Growing up poor, I knew paying for college would be a challenge so I thought about the Air Force Academy but when my hearing went bad, I knew I would never be able to fly so I went to West Point and the Army instead.

What is something no one knows about you? When I was in the Army, I did a lot of really neat things – Ranger School, Airborne, Jumpmaster, Air Assault school. Graduating from Ranger School was huge for me. Our class started with 400 people and graduated 100. It was a a big confidence boost. Being a jumpmaster was a blast - leaning out the jump door at 120 knots and 1,000 feet. I even got the chance to jump into Honduras during a training exercise. I did all these things for the same reason I do triathlon – at some point in my life I thought I couldn’t do it - I doubted myself, so I did it to prove to myself I could.

Tom and Paula set off for IRONMAN Florida


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