Phinney, Schmidt-Mongrain win sprint triathlon

Competitors put on their biking gear after leaving the Schuylkill to start the second leg of the Philadelphia Triathlon's sprint race.
Competitors put on their biking gear after leaving the Schuylkill to start the second leg of the Philadelphia Triathlon's sprint race. (                           RON TARVER / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 23, 2014

Swimming never has been a problem for Michael Phinney, a former swimmer at Villanova. It turns out he is pretty good at cycling and running, too.

Saturday morning, Phinney won the Philadelphia Triathlon's sprint race by finishing in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 18 seconds - four minutes ahead of second-place Adam Alper. The sprint course in Fairmount Park consisted of an 800-meter swim, a 15.7-mile cycling ride, and a 3.1-mile run.

At Villanova, Phinney swam the 200-meter, 100, and 50 freestyles. Though the swim portion of the triathlon was longer than he swam in college, Phinney feels very comfortable in the Schuylkill.

"The race organizers have us swimming down-current, so it's really a fast swim," said Phinney, 31. "It's very scenic right down the river. You see the skyline downtown."

Women's overall winner Sharon Schmidt-Mongrain finished the race in 1:19:06. The 39-year-old from Lafayette Hill raced professionally for the last three years but decided to return to the amateur ranks this year.

It was her first time in the sprint competition instead of the Olympic race, but she enjoyed it all the same.

"There's great camaraderie. The charity, it's such a great event," Schmidt-Mongrain said. "I think it does a lot for Philadelphia."

Phinney competed for the Johnson & Johnson team, which raised $400,000 for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He works for Quintiles, a pharmaceutical company in Mount Laurel, and has worked with Johnson & Johnson. He was invited to the Johnson & Johnson team two years ago by CEO Alex Gorsky and team captain David Silver.

Phinney hasn't looked back. Last year, he finished third in the Olympic race, good enough to earn the opportunity to have a professional license. He didn't accept it, deciding he wanted to compete as an amateur one more year, and it paid off with his victory Saturday.

He still has more to do this weekend. He noticed that Gorsky and Silver were competing in both races this year, so he, too, will be back for the Olympic race Sunday. In the short break, he planned to deal with the wear and tear from Saturday's race.

"I'll go home, recover, stretch out, and hope it will come back fresh tomorrow," Phinney said.


Philadelphia Triathlon

What: Olympic triathlon, 1,500-meter swim, 40k bicycle race, 10k run.

When: Sunday, 6:30 a.m.

Where: Fairmount Park, along the Schuylkill.

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