Triathlete Laurel Wassner's desire to come from behind and keep pace in any race seems instinctive when you learn that she was born five minutes after her twin sister Rebeccah – now also a professional triathlete. She began swimming in meets in Maryland at age four, and throughout junior high she ran undefeated in cross-country. In high school, Wassner turned her attention back to swimming and went on to swim distance and freestyle for George Washington University. Wanting to combine her talents, she turned to triathlon, competing in her first race in 2006 - and also winning her first triathlon in 2006. After a successful year as an elite amateur in 2007 (where she had both the fastest run and swim splits in every race), Laurel turned pro in 2008, and was named USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year that same year.
Laurel’s first professional win came in 2010 at the Columbia Triathlon. Also in 2010, she had the joy of coming in second after Rebeccah in the New York Triathlon.
Having been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 23, Laurel survived to become the first professional triathlete who has overcome cancer. "I am extremely lucky that I not only survived, but now compete as a professional athlete after having Hodgkin’s disease,” says Laurel. “So many others are not as fortunate." In a profile in O Magazine, she stated her mantra was "fight," and that, "the only way to get through life is to keep looking forward."
The two sisters work together on AthleteFood.com, a food blog they started to share their favourite pre- and post-workout snacks, the makings of a triathlete-sized salad, and the finer points of cooking in hotel rooms. Their younger sister Sarah also blogs: her Athlete Moms blog shares the challenges and rewards of juggling training with raising a family.