International pentathlete

When Caitlin Flathers graduated from LC in 2009, she was gunning for the 2012 Olympics.

“I didn’t quite make it as far as I had hoped … but I’m pretty impressed with myself for making it to the trials,” she said.

Caitlin FlathersHer quest to make it to London came to an end in March, when she ended up fifth overall in the U.S. women’s pentathlon — a grueling combination of running, swimming, horse jumping, shooting, and fencing.

Her training was a full-time job that started each day with shooting from 7 to 8:30 a.m., two hours of fencing, and one to two hours of swimming. She ran about 60 miles a week and rode once a week.

Caitlin estimates that she has been in 20 competitions in seven countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, Mexico, Switzerland, and the U.S. She said she enjoyed getting familiar with countries she would not have chosen as a tourist. “Budapest is one of the coolest cities I’ve ever been to,” she said. Her mom, dad, and 9-year-old brother also got to see her compete in Brazil. “They have been sacrificing so much to help me,” Caitlin said. “It was great they could go.”

Caitlin said she did well in the Olympic trials considering she was recovering from pneumonia and shoulder and ankle injuries. Since March, she has taken time to rest and is only swimming and running, with plans to take on a marathon this fall.

More importantly, she’s getting married. Caitlin met her fiancé, Tom Nichols, while training for the Olympics in Colorado Springs, where Tom was attending the Air Force Academy. A mutual friend introduced them. They have a mutual love of running, swimming, and hiking. After they’re married, Caitlin will be moving to Mississippi where Tom is in pilot training.

A native of Culpeper, Va., Caitlin moved back home in March to spend time with her family, teach swim lessons, work at a barn, scoop ice cream, and do some accounting for her father’s firm. She came back to LC in July to serve as a residential assistant for Governor’s School.

Caitlin Flathers fencingAs a student at LC, Caitlin was co-captain of the riding team, so the equestrian event was the one she was most comfortable with in the pentathlon. She said her training helped her improve in all areas, especially fencing and shooting, which turned out to be strong events for her.

While at the Olympic Training Center, Caitlin said she had the chance to become friends with people from Cuba, Russia, and China. She met shooters and wrestlers and even the eight-time gold medalist Michael Phelps.

Caitlin is tuned into the Olympic Games, especially watching her former teammates. Only three U.S. pentathletes qualified for the games, and she, of course, knows them all. So could the 2016 Olympics be in her future? Caitlin says that’s a definite maybe.