Rachael Smyth Wins Busselton Festival of Triathlon

Rachael Smyth joined the Santa Maria College community as a Math teacher at the start of this year. Impressively, she won the Busselton Festival of Triathlon in 2023 and secured another victory just weeks ago. In this Staff Spotlight, we had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about her experiences and career journey.

Busselton Festival of Triathlon

The Busselton 100 comprises a scenic 2-kilometre swim parallel to the iconic Busselton Jetty, followed by an 80-kilometre ride winding through the Tuart Forest, and culminating in an 18-kilometre run tracing the Busselton Foreshore before weaving through the bustling event village, where countless spectators cheer the participants at every step of the way. 

Can you provide us with some background information about your professional career before coming to Santa Maria College? 

I completed my teaching degree in Ireland and taught there as a Maths and Science teacher for three years before moving to Australia. I initially pursued a degree in Astrophysics before switching to a degree in Science and Maths Education. I was a Science and Physics teacher for two years in Perth before joining the Maths department at Santa Maria in 2024.

What do you love most about being a Maths teacher?

I love how fundamental math is in explaining the universe. I love how it challenges us to see things logically and abstractly while also being useful in our everyday lives. I love helping students develop their mathematical skills, hence their problem-solving skills, resilience, and ability to communicate ideas universally.

Could you share some insights about your experience with triathlons? 

I was a track and field and cross-country runner throughout school and university but transitioned to triathlon due to an injury. I completed my first triathlon in 2021, so I still consider myself new to the sport. Training for three different disciplines simultaneously keeps me busy, and I enjoy participating in events for each discipline as well as triathlon races. While I love cycling, swimming has been a significant challenge for me. This year, I signed up for the Rotto Swim as part of a duo, but unfortunately, the event was abandoned when we were halfway across. Completing that crossing is a goal for next year.

What inspired you to take part in the Busselton Triathlon?

I love Busselton and racing down there is always a great experience and a chance to get away for the weekend. This race is the last local race of the season so there is always a great atmosphere and it’s a very enjoyable experience. I raced this event last year and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of the experience again. As a State Championship race, it adds to the excitement and challenge of the day.

Could you elaborate on the most demanding aspect of the Busselton Triathlon from your perspective?

It is a 100 kilometre race over three sports: swimming, cycling and running, so it is an extremely demanding race. However, I find the lead up more challenging than the day itself. When you have put the work in, you can go into a race with confidence that you can compete to the best of your ability. I guess the same is true for any aspect of life, particularly assessments. Personally, time management whilst training and preparing for an event is the most demanding aspect. There are many early mornings and double training sessions on top of working full-time, so finding balance is important. I love what I do—both teaching and participating in sports—and I enjoy the mental and physical challenges that both present.

How did you choose to commemorate or treat yourself upon finishing the Busselton Triathlon?

I am a foodie; I love to sit down and treat myself after an event – this time it was woodfire pizza and an ice cream cone. There was a nice awards ceremony after the event which celebrated the achievements of everyone on the day and my result as the female race winner was recognised at this. Once my season is over, I will take some time off over winter, recharge, and be ready for racing in the spring.

Are there any other triathlons or athletic endeavours that you are considering for the future?

I am competing in the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships in Cairns later this term, which will be my first full-distance Ironman. I always like to have a goal to work towards, so once Cairns is finished, I will plan the rest of the year. This year, that includes the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

As second time winner of the Busselton 100, what are your words of advice for future participants?

Consistency and enjoyment! Success doesn’t happen overnight, but training consistently means I am always improving and getting closer to my goals. I also believe you should love what you do as then it doesn’t feel like work.

We would like to thank Rachael for sharing both this remarkable achievement with us and hope she has settled in well into the Santa Maria Community. 

Shaping Future Leaders- Jennifer Oaten

At Santa Maria College, we believe that leadership is a journey of learning, not just a title or position. For over 80 years, our Year 12 students have been at the forefront of shaping our school’s culture through their leadership. As one cohort graduates and another takes the helm, the baton of leadership is passed, igniting the potential within each new group of young women.

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