Team Swift – Ride fast, ride smart, be swift!

Posted on 23. Oct, 2008 by in profile

Cycle with Champions. Support the Team Swift Junior Cycling Development Program and ride with (and watch the younguns try and drop the pros)  BMC’s Tony Cruz, Mike Sayers, and Scott Nydam and Swift alumni Steven Cozza of the Garmin-Chipotle team on a beautiful 30 mile or 50 mile ride through Sonoma Wine Country on Sunday, October 26, 2008. (Schedule and pricing info here).

So what is Team Swift?

Team Swift Junior Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community based youth bicycling organization.  Created and directed by retired pro-cyclist Laura Charameda, Team Swift’s mission is to develop elite bicyclists from beginners, helping riders aged between 10 to 18 years of age to navigate through the different stages during development as junior cyclists by bringing them many resources including equipment, coaching and technical advice.

“Swift is great. When I was a junior I had no clue about cycling, I didn’t know where to go and Swift and Laura showed me the direction in cycling and that’s basically what led me to be where I am right now. Without Swift I had no direction, I didn’t even know where to go race so it’s pretty cool.” said Cozza earlier this summer about Team Swift.

Team Swift also teaches the rules and etiquette of cycling to help create good ambassadors for our sport as well as good community members. As part of the program, the junior cyclists on the team also create race reports which can be read on their teamswift blog.

Boys and girls of all levels of riding ability take part in the program with the development pipeline moving younger club riders of beginning skill levels up to the elite level of junior racers if they choose to dedicate themselves to cycling. Once a rider is at a  more advanced level, the expectations shift to developing the competitive aspect of the sport. Discipline becomes emphasized at this level and riders must demonstrate this discipline in their training, their ability to be coached and their overall desire to represent the team and the program. The Team Swift riders have a full calendar of local, regional and national events, including the US Nationals.

The name Laura Charameda should be familiar but let me refresh your memory. As a top sprinter in the 1990s, racing both in the United States and Europe, Charameda racked up over 250 career victories which included  two National Criterium Championships, stage wins at the Tour du Feminin, a bronze medal in the World Championships  behind Jeannie Longo and Leontien Van Moorsel.  She was also a member of the U.S. National Team from 1993-1998.

She was racing for two teams, an Italian and an American team in 1996 when disaster hit.  And the end of the season after the World Championships, she injured her back  and herniated a disk.  After not taking the time to heal properly,  in a one year timeframe, Charameda had two discectomies and a fusion to the area, and  knee surgery, and had to retire to let her body recover.

During this time of healing, she focused her attention on training and coaching kids. Her coached athletes have ranged from absolute beginners to world class athletes such as Katheryn Curi, the 2005 U.S. National Women’s Road Race Champion; Steve Cozza; and Nathan Miller, another Team Swift graduate who raced with the BMC Racing Team in 2008. Charameda also held directing positions with multiple women’s cycling teams.

Oh and Charameda was also  responsible for organizing and served as race director for the Pro Women’s Criterium in Santa Rosa during the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.

“It has been a central philosophy of Team Swift that the overall success of American cycling depends upon widespread opportunities for young cyclists. The support of our local cycling community is key to helping more young people experience the benefits offered by Team Swift. We want to bring you fast, smart, swift riders to your communities and cycling clubs.”

Read more on Laura Charameda and other fabulous women of racing at  ProCyclingWomen.com

Photo of Laura Charameda courtesy of Team Swift

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