Wheaton Olympian Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. and her brother, Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, next weekend will race in their first World Cup qualifier as they prepare to go to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The two siblings have been training together under their mother, four-time Olympian Nancy Swider-Peltz, for less than two years, since Jeffrey left Wheaton College to join his sister and focus full-time on the sport.
“I’m doing a ton that I’ve never done before and so that’s really encouraging,” said Jeffrey, who will skate in the 1,000- and 3,000-meter events next weekend. “I think the competition is going to go pretty well.”
Nancy, 25, competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, when the American women finished fourth in the semifinals of the team pursuit. Nancy, however, did not race in the semifinal due to a hamstring injury.
Later that year, she declined a spot on the fall World Cup team to heal. She said that since the Olympics, she hasn’t had a solid year of training because of her injuries, but feels she’s now skating her strongest since the Games.
“I’m pumped… It’s a week and a half away… It’s surreal. I’m hoping I’ll be prepared,” she said.
Both Nancy and Jeffrey said they’re currently tapering their performances, working rest periods in with their strenuous workouts to prepare to reach their peak performances.
Nancy said she won’t be fully tapered at the competition and therefore won’t have her best performance, but she's confident she’ll make the World Cup team.
Jeffrey said he needs to fine-tune his quickness so he can get up to speed quickly when he competes against skaters who have been training for years.
As a middle-distance skater, Jeffrey said he doesn’t always need to be a great sprinter, but does need quickness to have a strong start and hit the ideal speed after the race's first half-lap.
“I’m racing against a lot of guys who have been training consistently for six, seven, eight years—if they’re tired they can dig deep and pull something out,” he said.
Jeffrey graduated from Wheaton North High School in 2007 and focused on speed skating. After a year, he went to Wheaton College to play football and study art and French, he said. Two years later, he decided to go back to speed skating, with plans to compete in Sochi in 2014.
To jump into such a demanding sport and do well is tough, his sister said.
“You have to be a high-caliber athlete and you need to be able to handle the endurance and the (work) load… (You’re) sitting in a squat position (for a long time),” she said.
The U.S. Single Distance Long Track Championship and World Cup qualifier begins Friday, Nov. 2 at the Petit National Ice Center in Milwaukee.