collin braatz


Provide a little background info about yourself
I am 16 years old and a junior attending Oregon High School.  I have a younger brother who is a freshman at Oregon as well. My dad, Paul, also trains with SBR. When I was younger I played all kinds of spots like football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and swimming. The sport that I enjoyed the most was swimming, and I have stuck with it since. Currently I am on the Oregon High School swim team where I mainly swimming the 50 and 100 freestyle. I am currently most interested in engineering and hope to pursue that career path in college. I did my first triathlon when I was 5 years old, at the Oregon Kid’s Triathlon.  I did that race and other kids tri’s until I started training with SBR during the summer of 2016.

How long have you been affiliated with SBR?
I have been training with SBR for a little less than two years now. When I first joined SBR I was introduced to draft legal triathlon, and being a big fan of professional cycling, with a love for swimming, this format really intrigued me. 2 year ago I started racing this format and have really enjoyed it.   My first year, I raced the super sprint distance (375m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run) in the youth division(13-15 years old). Then last year I moved up to the junior division(16-19 years old) and started racing sprint distance.
Why did you join SBR? Why have you stayed?
I joined SBR after my dad found SBR looking for a masters swim class. He had been doing triathlons for 25 years and wanted to become a better swimmer. I was having some trouble with my free stroke at the time and he recommended I have Coach Martin take a look at it to see if he could tweak it to make it more efficient. After looking at my swim stroke he wondered if I would be interested in racing more competitively in triathlon. I took a summer off of swimming to perform in the Shadow Armada marching band and then started thinking more about triathlon over the winter swim season. Then in April of 2016 I got interested and took up training and racing with SBR. I have stayed with SBR because of the opportunity to race at a higher level in triathlon and the knowledge of the coaches. My race plan has gone from go out and try not to die, to knowing how to pace myself, when to attack the field,  when to back off and slow down a little, when to push the pace, and when to realise that the guys you're with are way too fast to keep up with. My training has also gone to the next level with the amount of depth each of the workouts have and knowing what part of your race each workout is going to help with.
What is your favorite part about training with SBR?
My favorite part about training with SBR is open water swims. Before joining SBR, I had only swam in a pool and thought that a lake was just a bigger pool with no walls. I was totally wrong about that though, But with more experience, I have learned to really enjoy swimming open water. Being able to get more comfortable with the format really helped and the coaches were a huge help in teaching me how it was different from swimming in the pool and how to be able to succeed in swimming open water. Now whenever I have an open water swim scheduled, I really look forward to it!
You recently returned to training following a major injury.  Can you talk a little about what happened, and how the recovery process has been going?
This summer was my first year racing the junior division and racing sprint distances and I was hoping to qualify for Junior Nationals at a draft legal race in Pleasant Prairie. I had done two races leading up to this race and those had gone great. When the day of the race came I was excited and nervous at the same time. The start of the swim went off fine and I came out in a great position. My first transition went great and during the bike I got into a group that was working together and I moved up to a better position than I was out of the swim. Then coming in to my second transition it all fell apart. As I was coming of the bike to transition to the run one of my cycling shoes had come out of it cleat and knocked my chain off the chain ring.  The loose shoe then knocked my back wheel up and over knocking me to the ground. As I was falling the back of my heel was cut open by the exposed chain ring.  The chain ring cut deep in my leg and severed my Achilles tendon. 10 days later I was in surgery to have the two parts pulled back together and attached with a carbon fiber mesh. I was then on crutches for 6 weeks and then in a boot for 2 weeks after that. I started physical therapy a week after surgery to and then did therapy for 16 weeks post surgery. The first activity I was cleared for was cycling.  It had to be on a trainer with the wheel barely touching the flywheel and for 5 minutes twice a day. This was a major bummer because when my physical therapist said that I was getting cleared to bike, I thought I would be able to return to the amount of cycling I was doing before the injury. The most shocking thing that happened during my therapy was when my therapist told me to stand on my tip toes. The Achilles is the tendon that allows for plantar flexion which allows you to be able to press the gas pedal or point your toes, and stand on your tiptoes. So as I made the attempt nothing happened and that's when the severity of the injury became real for me. As I worked through the recovery process I slowly built the tendon back up and I can now go up on my tiptoe on the injured leg alone. About a month ago I had my final follow up appointment with the surgeon where I was finally cleared to run. Now the goal is to return to and surpass the form I had before the injury.
What are your training and/or racing goals this year?
My biggest goal this year is to qualify for the Junior Elite National Championships. Another one of my goals is to race more.  My main training related goal is to become a faster runner. Between recovery and swimming, I haven't been able to run as much as I would like, so I hope once swim wraps up I can start putting in the work to return to form.