Rabess dominates all three legs of Stroke and Stride

Kyra Rabess, centre, with third-place finisher Kirsten Cellier, left, and second-place finisher Laura Hicks.

The fastest woman in Cayman might still be in school.

Kyra Rabess, age 14, dominated the three legs of the Stroke and Stride series, coming in first place among all women of all age groups in all three races. Rabess was competing in just her second Stroke and Stride. Last year, she finished in a tie for third place despite skipping the opening leg.

The results come from a prodigious work ethic. Rabess trains nine times a week with Stingray Swim Club, and she also is involved with 345 Athletic Club, a local distance running group.

“I was very pleased,” she said of the Stroke and Stride. “The first week, I had just come back from a swim meet away. I was very proud of myself that I did this well. It was supposed to be my break week.”

She finished Wednesday’s race – the longest of the Stroke and Stride series – in 28:01.5. Rabess finished her two-mile run in under 16 minutes in all three legs of the Stroke and Stride this year.

The teenager, who won two gold and two bronze medals in swimming at CARIFTA this year, said that her Stingray teammates practise three times a week before school and every day after school. They also get in another practice on Saturday morning to complete the arduous week of instruction.

Rabess said she does not plan on competing in triathlons in her immediate future, but she’s excited to keep improving both in the pool and on the track over the next few years. She’d like to keep swimming in future CARIFTA events, she said, and she’s open to someday competing in track at that level.

“My main sport is swimming,” she said when reached by phone Saturday. “If I do go for track, it’s going to be the same time as swimming. But I’d choose swimming over track, because that’s my main sport.”

Rabess said she felt like she had an advantage in the swim at Stroke and Stride because of how often she’s in the water, and she was a little surprised that nobody ran her down on land. She generally runs the 800 and 1500-metre distance, and the run leg of the Stroke and Stride is longer at two miles.

But Rabess broke the tape first Wednesday, just as she had for the two previous legs.
When she reflects on how she’s gotten to this point, she’s optimistic for how much faster she can be in the future.

“I started swimming at a young age because my mom used to swim when she was younger,” said Rabess of her competitive origins. “I started enjoying it a little bit more, so I just kept going.

“And as I got older, my dad started introducing me to track. At first, I didn’t really like it. But I’m starting to like it because of all the friendships and the encouragement going around in the groups.”

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