Photos: Supplied.

By Kent Gray/
Keep calm and carry on with the reimagined Paris plan. That’s Nicole van der Kaay’s takeaway from her swim penalty-impacted 13th place at European Triathlon Cup Quarteira in Portugal early Sunday (NZT).

Following the abandonment of WTCS Abu Dhabi earlier this month, there was much interest in the Kiwi No.1’s replacement season-opener after her temporary move to Portugal to train under new Estonian coach Paulo Sousa.

After completing the standard distance test in 1:59:58 – 3mins 06sec adrift of German victor Lisa Tersch – van der Kaay took to social media to self-analyse her “Conti-Cup dust buster in the Calima”.

The Taupo 28-year-old admitted the bedding in of her new freestyle stroke is a patience tester but took great heart from her 10km split of 34:24 – bettered only by Tersch’s 34:19 – despite being lumped with a 15 second penalty.

“Having patience on my swim is hard, especially when I’ve moved my entire life to improve it. However, Paulo reminded me I need to slow down and become more efficient at a new stroke before I speed up, so here’s me trusting the process. Big picture thinking and all,” van der Kaay wrote.

“Very glad I started with a Conti Cup to smooth out dusty transitions, penalties, and highlight more areas to dial in before the big ones!

“Positives are my run progress without any real focus, clocking the second fastest split including my pesky 15sec time penalty.”

Van der Kaay later spoke to to explain the penalty and plot her next steps en route to the Paris Olympics in July-August. Her schedule, though subject to change, currently features World Triathlon Cup Chengdu (China/April 29) and the two remaining pre-Paris WTCS rounds in Yokohama (May 11) and Cagliari (May 25).

Van der Kaay serving her 15 sec penalty.

“A lot of girls were given penalties but I believe mine was from the swim,” van der Kaay told

“It was super rough with strong cross current and chop against the buoys. I was on the inside and about to miss/get caught up in or get drowned around the buoy so cut across the back of girls feet to get on the outside.”

Exiting the water 40sec down, it was an uphill battle from there for van der Kaay.

“I was a few seconds from the chase pack but got caught up in transiton, a bit clumsy getting gear on, rode solo for a lap then decided to drop to the next pack and the group was working well ahead of us and wasn’t catching.

“A few strong females worked in our group but not many, so was a frustrating ride. The run I just did my own thing and found I was matching the leaders, [even] gaining each lap so that was good motivation to finish strong and get a good session in.

“This was very much a training race, to smooth out flaws with a full training week leading into it.”

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