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By Denton Ketels (Magazine.grinnell.edu)
 
Madeleine Pesch ’16 likes to joke that she would never have found Grinnell if it weren’t for the “amazing pool” she first saw in a swimming-and-diving brochure. She went on to record plenty of stellar accomplishments in the Russell K. Osgood pool during her four years, but the double major in chemistry and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies (GWSS) meant taking academics just as seriously. Pesch’s balanced effort won her both the Honor G Scholastic Award and the President’s Medal, which is presented annually to the senior who exemplifies the ideal Grinnell student in terms of scholarship, leadership, poise, maturity, responsibility, and service....


 
Pesch’s sights remain set on becoming a women’s health care specialist, but a funny thing happened on the way to medical school. A surprising silver medal performance in the amateur world triathlon championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, last September qualified her to compete as a professional against some of the world’s most elite athletes. She talked about the opportunity from her home in Madison, Wis. (by way of St. Cloud, MN), where she was preparing for her first pro triathlon season. ...
 
GM: What led to your becoming a professional triathlete? 
 
MP: Triathlons started with encouragement from Erin Hurley, my coach at Grinnell. In the spring the swim team always put on a triathlon as a community service fundraiser. I really enjoyed it, so Erin encouraged me to start doing triathlons in the off-season because I was burned out on swimming year-round. I trained for the Olympic distance* triathlon in summer of 2013 and qualified for nationals, so my first nationals was my second triathlon ever. I totally felt intimidated, felt like I didn’t belong there, but I ended up qualifying for the world championships for my amateur age group. 
The rest of my college career, I trained for swimming between September and February;   from March to August, I focused on triathlon. After college I thought my athletic career was over because swimming was over. I had planned to take two gap years and then go to medical school, but it was devastating to me not to have an athletic goal in my life.  READ MORE

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