Suzanne, and the art of the pentathlon


What d’ya say, McDaniel?

Looks like a great place for a swim coach and his wife to show off some school colors.


Before we get started with this next post, I would like to answer our first question.

This first one comes from a young lady named Suzanne.

Suzanne writes:

‘This blog is great. It’s as if you took a huge piece of chocolate cake, and turned it into words. Can I follow it? Can I post it’?

Thanks for the feedback, Suzanne. And great question. I had to ask the communications office for some help with the answer, but here goes. At the end of the blog, you should see a bar that shows a few options to share it… Facebook, twitter, etc. There is also a link for rss feed. If you click on that link, you should receive a notice each time an entry posts. This should also work if you would like to repost to Facebook, or twitter.


This question leads me into my next topic, Facebook likes. During a lengthy discussion over multiple cookies in the dining hall yesterday, I learned a disappointing fact. Vince Buscemi, from our Communications office here at McDaniel, told me without much publicity the first entry to this blog was viewed close to five hundred times in the first day. Great news, indeed. The troubling news was it was ‘liked’ somewhere in the teens, which he said is a normal statistic. We can do better than that, McDaniel. Spread the word.


Okay, so on to the main topics of this post.

What is the Modern Pentathlon?

As I wrote before, the Modern Pentathlon was developed by the founder of the Modern Olympics, for the Modern Olympics. As the ancient pentathlon was designed to test the skills of the ideal soldier, Baron Pierre de Coubertin updated the event to match the time period. What would a 19th century soldier face, if caught behind enemy lines?



Each pentathlete will face the other thirty-five contestants in a dual, lasting no more than 1 minute. First touch wins. If neither gets the touch within that minute, both contestants pick up a loss. This is the only discipline of the five, where the score of each contestant depends on how well they fare against the other competitors.


200 meters in the pool. Athletes are ‘seeded’ according to their best times. Points are awarded (or lost) based on how each contestant fares against the standard time, two minutes and forty seconds for women.


Growing up on a horse farm, this is without question Suzanne’s best discipline. Horses for each competition are loaned from local stables. Contestants are paired with a horse, and given twenty minutes to ‘warm up’ prior to their ride, which consists of negotiating the horse over jumps within a time limit. Obviously, with a stable of horses, you will find there will always be a best horse, and always a worst. Couple that with chances a less experienced competitor might ‘spook’ the horse in a prior round, and you can understand where the test starts. Points are taken away if the ride is not within the time limit, barriers are knocked down, or the horse refuses.

 (please note: a signed copy of this picture is going up on my office wall)


This event is a combination of shooting and running, which up until 2009 were contested separately. Now each athlete will use a laser-pistol to hit a target five times, reloading after each shot, then run 1000 meters, repeating for three rounds total. Athletes are started according to their scores through the equestrian event.

So that is the Modern Pentathlon. What would a soldier face if she finds herself behind enemy lines?



On to the second topic, fundraising.

As I wrote in my initial entry, Suzanne’s parents have raised enough funds to send me and my wife; along with her other coaches, to London to see her compete. But that is not the only reason for the fundraising. In most sports, when choosing the team to send to the Olympics, each individual country will hold trials for that sport. Within the last few weeks you might have found yourself watching swimming trials, or gymnastics, or waiting to see if those two girls were going to face off again on the track to see who would go to the Olympics. In the Modern Pentathlon, the world-wide qualification process began in January of 2011, and was just finalized a few weeks ago.

Some slots were awarded based on specific competition results; if an athlete won the World Cup Final in 2011, they automatically qualified. The top three competitors at 2011 World Championships, held in Moscow, were also awarded a berth in the Olympics. Finally, automatic berths were awarded to the winners of Continental Championships. The majority of competitors however, secured their place by amassing point totals (best three) that kept them within the top 36 (maximum Olympic athletes) in the world. Points were awarded at specific competitions all over the globe. Just within the last year, Suzanne has traveled to competitions in Brazil, China, Hungary, Russia, and Italy. She needed to be first or second in points for the U.S., as well as keep herself within the top 36 in the world, to be in the position to make the Olympic team. Funding such a schedule has pushed Suzanne, and her family, to rack up considerable dept. The opportunity to represent you country, and compete in the Olympic Games does not come cheap. And this is the reason for the fundraising campaign.

To read more about Suzanne, or to make a donation, please visit her site:



If you would like to follow Suzanne on twitter: @sstettinius

If you would like to follow McDaniel swimming: @McDanielSwim

Although I am thankful for all those who follow our twitter account, how cool is it that the MD Thoroughbred Association is following us?



Again, if you have any questions, send away.

Topics for the next entry will include how to properly pronounce Suzanne’s last name, as well as a few of the obstacles she has faced along the way. For example, how not to dismount a horse.



Until then, I am looking for a few suggestions as to what to call this little journal I am writing. The word blog, I have learned, comes from web+log. Understandable combination, but still an odd word. Let’s come up with something original, a sniglet (there’s a reference for all you kids from the 80’s), if you will. Send me your suggestions,


Keep it real,



3 thoughts on “Suzanne, and the art of the pentathlon

  1. Interesting take on the fundrasing issue and it’s hoped that due to team GB’s fantastic efforts at this year’s olympics that the government will fund more athletes to help them achieve their goals and dreams. I love the pentathlon and it’s been a joy to watch the adorable Ennis do so well in the heptathlon. I’ll be following Suzanne’s progress for sure!
    Good luck and best wishes.

  2. The pentathlon is a beautiful sport with really tough and diverse disciplines. It’s a real shame that it has caused her family financial haedship as a result. I’ll visit mint meadows and re-tweeet this post to help support Suzanne’s dreams.

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