In late 2014, Bayley Van de Coolwijk (St. Mary's College) was spotted running briskly by 1994 Triathlon World Champion Jenny Rose.
Rose is a high performance coach for Triathlon New Zealand and has over 50 athletes in her stable. Van de Coolwijk immediately caught Rose's eye as she explained to the Dominion Post last year.
"Bayley is very promising," Rose said.
"She can go a minute flat for the 100m freestyle and has run a 1500m in around 4:55 and those are good times for her age."
"We are looking for kids who are good at swimming and running as triathletes. They know about training hard and can usually pick up biking relatively quickly."
Van de Coolwijk was a regular cross country champion at primary and intermediate level, but in purist of a new challenge agreed to join Rose's Traction Fitness.
Cycling proved to be initially haphazard. Van de Coolwijk recalls her competitive debut in the Kinloch Triathlon in Taupo in 2015.
"It was a bit of a laugh to be honest. I went for experience and found myself leading after the swim. In the transition for the bike my shoes fell off and I didn't know how to change the gears properly."
Van de Coolwijk competing in the 16-17 division managed to salvage a respectable third place finish, one place ahead of proven Wellington triathlete Emelie Clarke.
Encouraged by her recovery in Taupo, Van de Coolwijk competed in the National Championships. In her first elite race she led after the swim before fading to finish a credible seventh.
"I had a really good swim, swimming is a strong suite. I just got tired. Nationals proved I could compete with the top girls," Van de Coolwijk recalls.
On Saturday Van de Coolwijk had a major breakthrough. Returning to the Kinloch Triathlon she won the 16-17 division title - leading from start to finish.
"It was a really good race. I would like to give credit to my coach. She is amazing. She is willing to do anything for me," Van de Coolwijk says.
Earlier this summer Van de Coolwijk attended a High Performance camp in Cambridge with the goal of earning selection for the National Talent Squad in April. Van de Coolwijk explains the significance of making the National Talent Squad.
"The World Championships are in Mexico in September. If I make the talent squad all expenses will be paid. If I don't I will have to fundraise about $5000 myself."
Shortly Van de Coolwijk will compete in Takapuna and at Nationals. Strong performances in these meetings will enhance her prospects of National selection, even so Van de Coolwijk is not overly confident she will be picked.
"I might be a bit unknown yet. Girls like Jaimee Leader and Eva Goodisson are really good and have more experience than me."
"I just want to keep working hard and improving."
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