Malvern’s Caroline Moyer Finds Success As a Triathlete

A few years removed from a nasty cycling accident, Malvern-based triathlete Caroline Moyer is finding her lane.

When Caroline Moyer hopped out of the water and onto her bike for the second leg of the 70.3-mile 2023 Ironman World Championship in Finland, she was riding against experienced cyclists on a demanding course at a significant pace. It was a lot—and it was frightening.

“It definitely brought out some fear,” Moyer says. “There were so many people riding so fast.”

The Malvern resident’s anxiety had little to do with whether she could hang with the competition. In fact, she came in among the top 10% of female finishers. Moyer’s trepidation stemmed from an ugly crash she’d survived in August 2020. She caught her foot in the front wheel of her bike and careened over the handlebars, breaking two ribs, separating the AC joint in her shoulder and suffering a puncture wound in her back. “The doctor told me it was the worst AC joint separation he’d ever seen,” she says.

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Thirteen months later, for a sprint triathlon, Moyer got back on a bike for the first time. The 11.8-mile ride was “terrifying,” but she had to do it. “It was a little more of a technical bike course than I was expecting,” she admits. “There were hills and potholes. My accident took place on a downhill, and on every downhill, I was clenching my teeth.”

To this day, Moyer isn’t completely comfortable—not that it’s evident by her triathlon performances. Last year, she was the top female finisher in the Ironman 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley triathlon, which is half the distance of a full Ironman event. She finished fifth overall in a similar event in Atlantic City and first in her age group. That performance qualified her for the world event in Finland. This year, she’s aiming to compete in a full Ironman, perhaps in Texas or Maryland. “As far as her potential, there are no limitations,” says her coach, Andrew Yoder. “I stress to her that she should think she can keep getting better—and I see it starting to resonate in her head.”

Moyer didn’t spend her formative years as a triathlete. She grew up in Malvern and was a swimmer from the time she was 3, years old, competing for Waynesborough Country Club, Episcopal Academy Aquatic Club and Great Valley High School. While at Great Valley, she also took up cross-country, which introduced her to longer-distance running. Not one to remain idle, she competed in either track or lacrosse during the spring season. “My parents encouraged me to do as many sports as I wanted to,” Moyer says. “Three of them in high school was pretty challenging. The coaches all wanted me to focus on one.”

Caroline Moyer
Caroline Moyer stands behind her bike.

Once she got to Gettysburg College, Moyer tried to swim and run, but it was too much, so she focused on swimming. She graduated in 2017 with a biology degree and a minor in business. Five years later, Moyer earned her nursing degree from Drexel University and is now an RN at Chester County Hospital, working three 12-hour shifts a week on a medical-surgical floor. She’s also an instructor at Episcopal Aquatic Club, and she trains between 12 and 17 hours a week to prepare for competition.

“I don’t like being told I can’t do something or thinking I can’t do something. I’m a very persistent person. I don’t want to be limited in life by fears.”

“She’s the same exact way as an instructor as she was as a swimmer,” says EA Aquatics codirector Brian Kline. “She has a motivating, inspirational and hugely energetic personality.”

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When Yoder suggested to Moyer she should consider becoming a triathlete, he didn’t have much concrete evidence that she’d succeed. “I thought we might have something,” he says. “She was very raw, but I had a gut feeling she could be good.”

Yoder invited Moyer to join the 50 or so people who were part of the Yoder Performance team. By January 2023, she was officially on board. She’d already begun training for triathlons when she had her horrible cycling accident. She was cleared for activity in January 2021, but it wasn’t until April that she could swim a lap in a pool. That September, Moyer competed in a sprint triathlon—a swim of just under a mile, an 11.8-mile bike ride and a 5k run.

In September of the following year, she completed her first 70.3-mile half-Ironman in Atlantic City. She’d ridden a stationary bike in preparation for that event but knew she “had to get back on the roads.” That determination has carried her forward. “I don’t like being told I can’t do something or thinking I can’t do something,” she says. “I’m a very persistent person. I don’t want to be limited in life by fears. I didn’t want to be defined by my cycling accident forever and be afraid of the bike.”

Moyer won her age group (25–29) in Atlantic City. “I did way better than I thought I’d do,” she says.

Moyer
Caroline Moyer

Last year, she won the women’s competition in the Happy Valley event and was fifth overall in Atlantic City, qualifying her for the worlds. Her overall performance in Finland—top 2% in her age group—earned her Ironman gold all-world athlete status. This year, she’s aiming for the full Ironman experience. “I think she’ll surprise herself with that,” Yoder says. “We’re pushing her, but this is a long-term process. If we do it right, it will happen.”

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