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Coach Liesl Begnaud is a USA Triathlon Level 1 & Paratriathlon Certified Coach and USMS Level 2 Coach based in Clermont, FL. Liesl has been racing endurance sports for over 13 years which includes two Ironman finishes, numerous marathons, cycling events and multiple triathlon age group podium finishes. She has assisted with Challenged Athlete Foundation Paratriathlon Camps, coached cycling for Special Olympics, and has been active with multiple triathlon clubs and teams. Her coaching philosophy is based on creating a caring partnership while working together to meet the athlete's goals. She helps her athletes to develop skills and confidence by encouraging them to train hard, play hard, have fun, and stay healthy while enjoying a balanced life. Prior to joining the Team MPI & SLAP coaching staff, Liesl worked as a social worker with persons with disabilities and special needs.
The story of Misty Becerra's path to Swim Like A Pro began a long time ago in a land far away, but, let's take a short-cut and start somewhere in the middle. College at Florida Atlantic University pulled her away from the competitive swimming background that had engulfed her life. While suffering from swimmer’s “burn out”, Misty took on a new sport and soon found herself battered, bruised, and winning on the rugby field.
Between rugby tournaments, Misty would show up at the local triathlon series and win her age group thanks to her strong swimming background. She assumed the strange stares that followed her were intimidation tactics from seasoned competitors, but they were actually staring at her bruised arms and legs.
After graduating with a degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion in 2004, Misty scored an internship at the National Training Center in Clermont, Florida.Her first memory of arriving in Clermont was exclaiming “There are HILLS in Florida? I will sure miss the beach!"
Born and raised in Miami, the Central Florida hills were the last thing she expected to find. However, the copious number of lakes and rivers nearby were bonus for this part-Cuban girl who grew up swimming. Side note: Many Cubans had swimming as a staple in their upbringing, just in case the raft didn't make it.
During her 9 years at the NTC as an Exercise/Aquatic Specialist, Misty’s path crossed with Sara McLarty. Together, they used their passion, education, and experience to grow the Masters swim program, private swim clinics, and swim analysis sessions. Who would have thought that two swimmers, who spent countless hours staring at a black line on the bottom of the pool, would become successful and highly sought after swim experts? The next logical step for these two passionate swim experts would be to become business partners and embark on a journey building the Swim Like A Pro brand in Central Florida and beyond.
In 1990, Sara McLarty competed in her first triathlon along the shores of Lake Minneola. Waterfront Park did not exist, the multi-use trail was still a road, and there wasn't a single hotel in town! 17 years later, she moved from the cold mountains of Colorado Spring back to sunny Florida and now lives in Clermont.
During those 17 years, while competing as a youth, junior, age-group, and collegiate athlete, Sara fell in love with the sport of triathlon. A temporary hiatus from the sport was necessary while competing at the NCAAs for the University of Florida swim team and training for the USA Swimming Olympic Trials. After narrowly missing the 2004 Olympic swim team, Sara wasted no time in calling USA Triathlon and asking to register as a pro.
2015 was her eleventh and final year representing the USA and competing professionally around the country and all over the world. Between training, traveling, packing and unpacking bike boxes, Sara has a passion for working with triathletes of all levels to achieve their personal goals in the sport. Her background in swimming naturally led to a familiar position on the pool deck with a stopwatch in hand.
Creativity and fun are the two words that best describe Sara’s coaching methods at group swim practices or during private coaching sessions. With a lighter travel scheduled now being a "retired" professional athlete, it is easy to schedule swim sessions, clinics, and personal coaching opportunities. If you have ever read and enjoyed a swim article in Triathlete Magazine, don’t miss out on a great opportunity to work with Coach Sara McLarty in person!
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