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Triathlete achieves goal despite challenge

Christina Nelson
Courtesy photoJeff Brandenburger, center, finished the Donner Lake International Triathlon
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Jeff Brandenburger may not have had the fastest time at the Donner Lake International Triathlon, but he definitely had the most fun.

“He had a blast. He was very proud of himself,” said David Brandenburger, Jeff’s brother, who competed in the cycling portion of the team relay.

Jeff, who has Down’s Syndrome, participated in the swimming leg of the relay along with his two brothers, David, 29, and Garrett Brandenburger, 21. The three were known to the other athletes participating in the triathlon as “The Three Brothers.”

Although Jeff’s time of 53 minutes and 17 seconds in the 1-mile swim may not seem exceptional when compared to professional athletes, it is a notable accomplishment for an athlete with Down’s Syndrome.

Throughout his life, Jeff’s family has actively participated in his athletic endeavors, and has encouraged him to push himself to do his best.

Jeff swam with a local swimming club in his hometown of Sacramento for 11 years, and has competed in swimming events in the Special Olympics since he was 8 years old.

He has also been involved in ski races in the Special Olympics and said his favorite place to ski is Boreal.

Although he has enjoyed sports his whole life, he hasn’t been involved in athletic competitions in the last couple of years.

David, who lives in San Francisco, competed in the triathlon 12 years ago and thought it would be a good way to get his brother involved in sports again.

“I thought it would be a good idea to provide a goal and a mission for him,” David said. “He was intimidated, but he has unconditional love and will do anything for his brothers.”

A month before the triathlon, Ede and Steve Brandenburger, Jeff’s parents, accompanied him to the local pool four times a week where he swam 40 to 60 laps to train for the race.

Jeff said enjoyed competing with his brothers, but he doesn’t think he would compete in a triathlon again.

“When we asked if he would do it again next year he said, ‘Maybe take a year off.'”

“It’s probably because he knows how much work it was,” Ede said.


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