Now, the former St. Pius X cross country, track and swimming standout and LSU freshman swimmer is ready to compete against the world’s best as she takes part in the junior women’s competition at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in London Sept. 11 through 15.
Dabney, who finished 20th among the junior women at the PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships in Brazil in late June, will compete in her race Sept. 12.
The event also includes the finals for the men’s and women’s professional tours and includes the under-23, paratriathlon and age group divisions.
Dabney qualified with a runner-up finish among the women in the U.S. National Junior Triathon Championships in West Chester, Ohio, Aug. 3 and 4.
“Making it to worlds was actually really exciting,” Dabney said. “It’s really hard to make it. Honestly, I wanted to [earn a spot on the awards podium]. I wanted to get third, second or first. The world spot wasn’t really in my thoughts, because it was really hard to get it. But, once I got it, I was really excited to be able to go and to race girls from around the world is really exciting.”
Dabney put together the performance of a lifetime at the nationals, where strong efforts in the swimming, cycling and running portions of the race earned her a second-place finish with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 42.61 seconds — a little over a minute behind champion Tamara Gorman of Rapid City, S.D. (1:02:31.02).
“I was a little surprised by my performance, even though I’ve been training for a long time to get all the three components — swim, bike and run — right, to be the best at all three,” Dabney said. “Sometimes, I’ll have a great swim and [a] good bike but an iffy run. Sometimes, I’ll have a great bike and a great run but a bad swim. But, [in the nationals], I had a really good swim, a really good bike and a really good run. I wasn’t really sure if I would make podium, which was my goal going into the race. I worked really hard and my mom [Susan Dabney] told me, ‘I’m really proud of you,’ and I gave it my all. It was a good moment.”
With a strong period of training for nationals under her belt, Dabney is confident of her conditioning as she looks ahead to the world championships.
“I definitely think I’m where I want to be,” she said. “I trained as hard as I could for nationals and I’m going to keep on going for a few more weeks and I’ll be ready.”
Dabney will be entering into her final preparations for the world championships at LSU, where she arrived to begin classes last week.
As Dabney gets her college career under way, she is getting some help in her final preparations for the worlds from LSU swimming coach Dave Geyer.
“It’s great that Devon has achieved such a huge accomplishment prior to her arrival,” Geyer said. “We all know when she heads to London that she will already be representing our program at the international level.”
Dabney said she is looking forward to starting her college swimming career at LSU after finishing with the world championships.
“I’m really excited to start a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I am a little nervous to be away from my family, because I love my family so much. But I’m really excited to be a part of the LSU swim team.”