Triathlons help Volpe prepare

By Mike Gillmeister

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For collegiate athletes, classes, practice, homework and daily meals are incorporated accordingly into daily routines. Allison Volpe, a senior captain on the Massachusetts women’s swimming and diving team, is one of the many athletes who choose to take on additional challenges to strengthen their abilities.

During this past summer, Volpe again didn’t have much time for rest, as she participated in two triathlons: a sprint triathlon and an Olympic triathlon. Volpe used these events to train for the 2007-08 swimming season.

The sprint triathlon consisted of swimming a quarter-of-a-mile, biking for 16 miles and finishing with a three-mile run to the finish line. After completing that triathlon, Volpe participated in the more challenging Olympic triathlon.

The Olympic triathlon consisted of a one-mile swim, 23-mile bike ride and a six-mile run to the finish line.

Volpe trained for each part of the triathlons for at least an hour and a half for two days a week.

“It was good cross-training,” Volpe said. “It was also a good way to get into a race situation because once you’re in college, it’s hard to [participate in] meets so I found it as a good way to race again.”

As for upcoming triathlons, Volpe doesn’t plan on actively pursuing any. The two events this past summer were just two personal goals that Volpe set for herself. However, Volpe doesn’t totally refute the idea of participating in another triathlon. She saw that her athleticism and endurance are stronger because of the intense workouts.

Volpe is a good multi-tasker. Before becoming a Minutewoman, she was a three-sport athlete at Owen J. Roberts High School (Pa.), competing in swimming, field hockey and track and field as a pole-vaulter.

The flexibility that Volpe shows everyday between school, swimming and a social life without favoring any one thing over the other is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

UMass coach Bob Newcomb knew how committed Volpe was since the first time she took to the water for the Maroon and White.

Newcomb believes that Volpe is motivated in everything that she does whether it be working in the classroom or swimming with the team.

The leadership qualities that Volpe shows in the classroom or while swimming is part of the reason that Newcomb chose Volpe to be a captain for this season.

“I am totally impressed, day in and day out,” Newcomb said of Volpe’s effort in the pool. “She struggled in the beginning of her career here and has really persevered. I think that she’s done a phenomenal job to be a leader of our sprints corps, a leader of this team and I am very glad that she is a part of this program.”

Volpe has clearly been a force for this team, as she is a part of the school-record-holding 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay teams. She also ranks sixth all-time in the 50-yard freestyle and ninth all-time in the 100-yard freestyle.

Volpe is also an animal science major and can usually be seen working in the animal science labs on campus. As a student, her goal is veterinary school. She hopes to get into a graduate school and then a program where she can get her Ph.D. and her veterinary degree at the same time.

Over the summer, Volpe did research with the Orthopedic Research Department at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia, Pa. There, Volpe did research to covalently link vancomycin to stainless-steel implants for animals, through a grant from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. The research was centered on the attachment of antibiotics to stainless steel implants to see if it prevents infection in long bone fractures.

Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner, is one of the most famous examples of the havoc that certain implants can wreak on an animal’s body. In fact, it was the circumstances of Barbaro’s death that enabled the school to get the grant money for the project. Barbaro developed an abscess on its left foot, not the foot that it had injured in the 2006 Preakness Stakes. The abscess was a result of an infection due to Barbaro’s body rejecting of the implant.

The research showed that, had antibiotics been attached to the implants in Barbaro’s broken ankle, the horse’s body may not have reacted so harshly to the foreign object.

With the work done at TJU, Volpe hopes to bolster her resume enough to give prospective colleges another reason to accept her into a veterinary school program.

Volpe attributes most of her success to her professor, Dr. Janice Telfer.

“She’s very good,” Telfer said of Volpe’s work ethic. “She’s very disciplined because she has other [constraints] on her time.”

Although Volpe follows a hectic schedule, it has never been apparent to Telfer that Volpe has shown signs of physical exhaustion. By her own admission, Volpe doesn’t have much downtime during the week

However her time-management skills are impeccable and they enable her to function effectively on a daily basis. Managing one’s skills as an athlete are necessary to being successful. At the same time, a student-athlete must also deal with the pressures of becoming an adult.

Success at both tasks makes individual victories that much sweeter.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at [email protected]