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Davis, California

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

UC Davis Triathlon team swim, bikes and runs to finish line

Boasting 118 members and requiring no experience, the UC Davis triathlon team stands out from other sport clubs on campus.

Most members come to the team with experience in only one or two areas of the three-sport triathlon – swimming, biking and running. The team helps train those without any experience in a sport to become competitive.

Catherine Kutsuris, a sophomore neurobiology, physiology and behavior major and tri-team publicity officer, has been a life-long runner. She could barely swim and was terrified of road cycling when she joined the tri-team. But the team helped her pick up the required skills and after, she was hooked.

“After the first triathlon I did, I got addicted. It’s impossible not to,” Kutsuris said.

Sarah Wood, a senior international relations major and president of the team, said she came into the club with a competitive swimming background. She joined the club her freshman year and, like Kutsuris, got addicted.

“You cross the finish line and it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” she said.

No experience is needed to join the team, although there are some experienced and competitive athletes who’ve done full and half Ironman marathons. A former UC Davis tri-team member even went pro after graduation and is currently competing in the international triathlon union circuit.

There are multiple student-led practices each day, as well as weekly practices with a professional coach that range in levels of difficulty.

“Practices are optional,” said Willie Diaz, a sophomore civil engineering major and publicity officer. “But you get out of it what you put in.”

The team keeps a workout catalog, in which members can post what and when they will workout. There are also longer established swim and track workouts every Sunday with a professional coach.

The team competes in various types of triathlons as part of a collegiate triathlon circuit. Sprint triathlons are the shortest and involve a 500-yard swim, 12- to 20-mile bike ride and three- to five-mile run. Olympic distance triathlons include a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run. A half Ironman is 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. The UC Davis tri-team generally hosts a sprint triathlon every year.

Competitions can be as low-key or competitive as members want them to be.

“Some people go race with just the goal to finish while others will race to try to place or get a new personal record,” Kutsuris said.

Kutsuris said that a typical triathlon for her consists of making up time she lost from swimming during the running part.

“I make up for all the lost time from the swim and bike [while running], shout more encouragement to anyone wearing Aggie colors, and finally come in to the finish to a line of screaming teammates,” she said.

“Triathlons are a blast,” Diaz said. “Pushing myself to the limits to cross the finish line is what I love the most.”

Diaz added that the Olympic distance was his favorite race but that he’s competing in his first half Ironman this year.

The club emphasizes that anyone can do a triathlon, Wood said. She said that she encourages anyone to check out the team.

Tri-team members said that their team is one of the most welcoming teams they’ve been on, in part because the other members willingness to help train and teach those who are new to the sport.

“There’s more good sportsmanship and congeniality on this team than any other team I’ve ever met,” Kutsuris said.

KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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