"I wasn't that nervous, but when I got in position for the swim, I started seeing that a lot of the other women really were nervous. It actually helped ground me to know that back in Cooperstown, people were watching me."
Groff said the butterflies finally hit when she entered the water, slowing her down for the first half of the swim, but they were gone once she arrived at the cycling checkpoint. She said others weren’t so fortunate, though.
"On that one corner around Buckingham Palace, I don't know if they were trying to get a glimpse of the Queen or still nervous because they started to go down on that slick turn at the corner,” Groff said. “Well, the first time I avoided it, but a lot of other people didn't. Some of my friends went down. You can't imagine coming all that way and then losing your opportunity because someone fell in front of you.”
A couple of laps later, Maria Czesnik of Poland wiped out right in front of Groff. Whether it was instincts or something else, Groff made a split-second decision to keep going.
"I could have tried to turn my wheels, but the reality is I would have not been able to do that in time and I would have fallen,” she said. “Plus, I probably would have hurt her worse that way. So I just went for it and did a little bunny hop over her. And I don't mean it this way — it sounds so wrong — but as I was doing it, I was looking for the camera because I wanted to watch it later on YouTube."
Groff landed safely and continued the race, feeling, she said, "as if everything else was gravy. I could have lost my chance right there, and having it still, to keep going, I just felt so grateful."