Coming off of a breakout year in 2018, Tamara Jewett made the full commitment to triathlon in 2019.
A former track star at the University of Toronto, Jewett had initially turned to swimming and biking as a form of cross-training while she was injured, but it didn’t take long for her to put all three together and turn to triathlon.
In her first full year of competing, the 29-year-old had some incredible results, including a win at Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, leading her to the decision to give the professional ranks a shot.
“2019 is my first year competing as a pro, so that is a bit of a learning curve,” said Jewett in a phone interview. “It felt like doing something a little bit new, and hoping to build on a successful season in 2018.”
Articling at a law firm up until June, this season was meant to be an adjustment year before really going all-in in 2020.
“It’s a bit of a building year because I was articling from August 2018 to June 2019,” she said. “Then I have a year off in 2020 to focus on triathlon. So the idea was to sort of take a year to get used to pro competition, hopefully have things go well, but also just use it as a learning experience.”
Jewett had a strong start to her first pro season, winning the Rose City Triathlon in Welland just a few weeks after finishing up her articling in June, but her race schedule was put on hold shortly afterwards.
“A couple of weeks later I broke my collarbone in a training ride, so I had to cancel my racing plans for July and August,” she said.
After taking the summer to recover, Jewett returned to action in early September, winning the Olympic distance Lakeside Triathlon. She followed that up with a pair of impressive performances at 70.3 Augusta in late September and the 70.3 South American Championships in Buenos Aires in early November.
These were the first two 70.3 races of her career as a professional.
“It felt pretty different racing with the pro women, just in terms of (having) fewer people around during a lot of the race and a different dynamic to get used to,” she said. “But, it’s exciting to have really strong competition in those races.”
Jewett took fourth in Augusta and third in Buenos Aires – the latter result qualifying her for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship next November in Taupo, New Zealand.
“That was one of my really big goals for 2019-2020, so it was really exciting to get that so early, and now be able to plan for next November well ahead.”
With her worlds spot locked up, Jewett plans to take on some of the more competitive races on the circuit in 2020 to prepare herself for Taupo, while still recognizing there are aspects of her race she needs to continue to improve.
“I knew going into it that my cycling and swimming both need a lot of work, and that’s sort of a gradual process,” she said. “I’ve been really happy with how that’s developing over this year, but it’s still definitely something I continue to see how much I have to work on. In some of these 70.3s I’ve been 12 minutes behind the leaders coming off of the bike, and it just shows me how much time I’m losing that I have to catch up on the run and that there’s room to work on.”
“One of the things I want to do is enter some particularly competitive races like Oceanside, just to have strong fields that really push me and get me prepared for really hard competition at worlds.”
But, before any of that, Jewett still has one more race left in 2019: the Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells on Dec.8.
“It’s extending the season – I planned to do Buenos Aires at the end of my season originally, but we added Indian Wells just to get in more racing experience this year, given that I couldn’t race as much in the summer.”
In regards to any of her long-term plans, Jewett is just taking things year-by-year.
“Right now, it’s really a one year plan based on the resources that I have,” she said. “So, trying to just focus on maximizing that time for right now, and sort of assessing next fall how things have gone and how I feel about things moving forward.”