Sara has always had a passion for sports. Competing in her first triathlon at seven years old, she won numerous awards in her youth—the most indicative of her future being 4-time IronKids Triathlon National Champion from 1993-96.
Upon entering high school at DeLand High, in Florida, McLarty immediately became the secret weapon of the swimming, cross country, and track teams. As a senior she achieved a state title in the 200-yard Individual Medley in her final Florida High School State Competition. During this year, Sara also announced her intention to sign with the Lady Gators Swim & Dive Team, at the University of Florida, coached by Gregg Troy.
While at the University of Florida, Sara racked up 15 NCAA All-American awards, four individual SEC Conference titles, one SEC Team Championship, and was the 2004 NCAA Florida Woman of the Year. She graduated from UF with honors in December of 2004, earning a degree in Telecommunications from the College of Journalism.
The conclusion of Sara’s collegiate swim career coincided with the 2004 USA Olympic Team Trials where she finished fourth in the 400-meter freestyle. Although fourth place does not qualify for the Olympic Team, it did qualify Sara for two swimming World Championships where she won a silver medal at the SCM World Championships in the 400m free, and a bronze medal at Open Water World Champs in the 5-kilometer open water swim.
After competing in a few swimming World Cup events in New Jersey, South Africa, and Mexico, Sara decided to become a Professional Triathlete. At this point she moved to Colorado Springs to train with the resident program at the Olympic Training Center. Sara began her pro career with non-drafting races, small Continental Cups, and the Under-23 World Championships in 2005. A few good finishes at those races earned her the USA Triathlon “Rookie of the Year” award.
Moving to the World Cup venue in 2006, Sara began with a record setting 16:30 for the 1500 meter swim at the Japan World Cup. The year included three Top-3 finishes at ITU Continental Cups (including 2nd place at the USA Elite National Championships), and three Top-20 finishes at World Cups. She continued to compete at non-drafting races and recorded a 3rd place at the Escape from Alcatraz.
Sara’s 2007 season marked many immense achievements including multiple Top-10 finishes at World Cups, qualifying for and finishing 10th at the Pan American Games in Rio, and posting fast 10K run times. Unfortunately, the end of the season and most of 2008 was affected by a painful foot injury that prevented Sara from training or racing to her fullest potential.
Not long after moving to Clermont, Florida in 2008, Sara was introduced to Dr. Joseph Funk of the Orlando Orthopedic group. Less than eight days later, Sara was recovering from foot surgery and getting her triathlon career back on track.
2009 marked a change in focus from the Olympic-style draft-legal racing to the non-drafting format popular in the USA. In 2010, Sara focused on the Lifetime Fitness series of races and won the Race to the Toyota Cup after a very close race with Rebecca Wassner at the US Open in Dallas, TX.
Sara’s 2011 season was tragically interrupted on August 24 by the death of her father, Brent McLarty. After struggling to find motivation to continue training and competing after the accident, Sara slowly started to return to form during the 2012 season. She thanks her family, friends, fans, and sponsors for their sympathy and encouragement that inspired her to continue her triathlon career.