Now that Kristen Van Saun's collegiate swimming career is complete, the Lawrence native will test the triathlon waters.
Van Saun, a 1997 Lawrence High graduate and senior at Notre Dame, has been selected for the U.S. Olympic triathlon residents team. She will join eight other collegians for a six-week training program this summer in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"They're taking a chance on me," said Van Saun, who has never competed in triathlons. "I think the main reason they're taking me is I do swim, and that is the hardest. They've sent me a training schedule. I've been trying to get back into running shape."
Van Saun applied for the residents team at the urging of Mike Smedley, a former Notre Dame runner who competes in triathlons.
"He was in town for a weekend in October, trained with us a couple of days and was looking for anyone interested in trying the triathlon," she said.
Van Saun, who turned 21 in October, thought she'd give it a try with her long-distance swimming background.
As a senior, Van Saun placed 13th in 1650 free (17:10.16) and 14th in the 500 free (4:59.44) at the Big East Championships.
"That's not as well as I wanted do," said Van Saun, who placed higher as a junior, winning the 500 free and taking third in the 1650 as a junior.
Van Saun was a team captain for the Irish, who won their fifth consecutive Big East title last month. The Irish were ranked 15th in the nation at the time.
"She's a team leader all the way through," Irish coach Bailey Weathers said. "We felt like we could count on her to perform in several events."
Van Saun, a NCAA qualifier her sophomore year, missed advancing to the championships her final two years.
"She's been training hard for eight or 10 years," Weathers said. "Your senior year, you have so much going on, and it's hard to go out completely happy. I know she would have liked to qualify for the NCAAs, but I still think she did a great job."
Van Saun will graduate in May with a degree in finance and computer applications.
Van Saun swam her freshman season in high school before devoting the next three years to the Lawrence Aquahawks swimming program.
"It was a good decision to come here," she said. "There were ups and downs, but I'm pretty happy about choosing to come here."