Sammamish man overcomes aquaphobia to log fastest local time in triathlon

August 23, 2011

By Christopher Huber

A triathlete removes his cap while sprinting out of the water to start the cycling leg of the 18th annual Beaver Lake Triathlon on Aug. 20. By Christopher Huber

A year ago, Ryan Mongan, 45, of Sammamish, would not have considered competing in the Beaver Lake Triathlon.

He was nowhere close to ready for the quarter-mile swim, he said. Swimming in open water freaked him out. He would panic and start swallowing water.

“Swimming’s my weak spot,” he said. “A year ago, I couldn’t swim.”

But months before the 2011 race, Mongan decided he would challenge a friend by entering. Still scared of the swimming leg, Mongan, an experienced runner and cyclist, resolved to train in Lake Sammamish to get used to the dark, open water.

The work paid off. Although a bit slow on the swim portion, Mongan finished the 18th annual Beaver Lake Triathlon in 13th place overall, crossing the finish line in 1 hour, 17 minutes and 23 seconds.

He was among more than 260 participants in the annual swim-bike-run race that takes triathletes in and around Beaver Lake. About 60 Sammamish and 20 Issaquah residents participated, according to the results website.

“Once on the bike, I mellowed out,” Mongan said.

He made up the two and a half minutes that he lost on the 13.8-mile bike ride. As he caught his breath at the finish-line area, Mongan reflected on the particularly steep climb on the bike portion.

“The bike (leg) is unusual for a triathlon,” Mongan said. “If you go out there now, you’d see people in a world of hurt.”

Cody Novak, 27, of Kirkland, won the overall race. He finished in 1:11:48, just one second ahead of Ryker Lammers, of Kirkland. The two raced neck and neck for the final three miles of the 4.3-mile run, Novak said.

“I though my legs were gonna fall out from under me,” Novak said after the race. “It was back and forth the last .3 miles. We just started booking. That’s when you lose all sense of form.”

This was Novak’s first time competing in the Beaver Lake Triathlon, known as a sprint triathlon due to its shorter course length.

“That was the shortest swim I’ve ever seen,” Novak said.

Other Sammamish residents performed well this year, too. Matt Signoretty, 21, placed ninth overall with a time of 1:16:08 and Jonathan Church, 35, took 10th place with a time of 1:16:21. Kerry Wate, 41, placed 33rd overall and fifth in his division with a time of 1:23:20. Calvin Mingione, 23, placed 46th overall and second in his division, finishing in 1:25:55. Tyler Kennedy, 23, took third in his division and 47th overall with a time of 1:26:00. Collin Clark, 34, finished in 1:26:06 to take 48th and fourth in his division. And Bill Baker, 56, placed first in his division and 49th overall with a time of 1:26:11.

Haley Morin placed seventh overall among female racers and second in her division with a time of 1:27:21. Tammy Wales, 50, took first in her division and fifth among masters females with a time of 1:30:50.

Skyline High School’s Joseph DeMatteo, 15, placed 32nd overall and first in his division with a time of 1:22:58.

Issaquah residents Patrick Rowland, 43, and Kenda Super, 35, placed 52nd and 53rd with finishing times of 1:26:32 and 1:26:52, respectively. Super placed first in her age division. Fellow Issaquah resident Edward Bullock, 53, came in 54th overall, third in his division, with a time of 1:26:54. Debbie Kotz, of Issaquah, finished first in the women’s 55-59 division.

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