GAL­LANT GAELS

QUEEN’S UNIVER­SITY TRIATHLON CLUB

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY CLAIRE DUN­CAN

KINGSTON, ONT.’S VI­BRANT triathlon com­mu­nity takes ad­van­tage of the re­gion’s beau­ti­ful coun­try roads and lakes for their out­door train­ing. Home of the pop­u­lar K-town Triathlon and birth­place of Si­mon Whit­field, Kingston is also home to the Queen’s Univer­sity Triathlon Club.

The long­stand­ing stu­dent-run club is more de­vel­oped than many univer­sity triathlon clubs in Canada. While triathlon isn’t yet an of­fi­cially sanc­tioned team sport for Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties, Queen’s Triathlon Club has cul­ti­vated a com­pet­i­tive at­mos­phere for its most se­ri­ous ath­letes. They have the ad­van­tage of a well-planned and ac­ces­si­ble train­ing sched­ule at the school’s top ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties. The club has some very strong age-group ath­letes who race in the Triathlon On­tario In­door Pro­vin­cial Se­ries dur­ing the school year and at lo­cal triathlons as well as across Canada at events like Iron­man 70.3 Muskoka and Iron­man 70.3 Mont-trem­blant.

The club is an ex­cel­lent re­source for triath­letes of all lev­els, but also fea­tures a com­pet­i­tive squad which com­prises 10 male and 10 fe­male ath­letes who com­mit to at least four prac­tices a week, though they of­ten at­tend many more. The recre­ational group has the choice of at­tend­ing as many daily ses­sions as they wish. Bryan Brodie, the club’s so­cial co-or­di­na­tor, run coach and a fourth-year bio­chem­istry ma­jor, at­tributes his de­vel­op­ment as a triath­lete to the con­stant mo­ti­va­tion and en­cour­age­ment from his peers in the club. The train­ing sea­son is year-long and dur­ing the sum­mer they par­take of the great out­door rid­ing in the area. Year-round the club also has ac­cess to the largest pool in Kingston in Queen’s ath­let­ics fa­cil­ity.

Re­mark­ably, the club is en­tirely stu­dent-coached. Jas­min Aggarwal, the club’s cy­cling coach and co-pres­i­dent, leads mul­ti­ple ses­sions dur­ing the week and is also a fourth-year life sciences stu­dent, ac­com­plished track and field ath­lete and re­cent qual­i­fier for the 2016 ITU Duathlon World Cham­pi­onships. Mem­bers love that their club is stu­dent-coached as it cre­ates a strong team dy­namic. With reg­u­lar so­cial events such as runs to the movies, din­ners and an­nual Christ­mas par­ties, it’s clear that the prom­i­nent sense of school spirit that char­ac­ter­izes Queen’s Univer­sity has fil­tered over into the club. Matt Straat­man, an­other club mem­ber to qual­ify for ITU World Cham­pi­onships, ex­plains that “Queen’s Triathlon Club took a very in­di­vid­ual sport and gave it a team dy­namic. It has been mo­ti­vat­ing to par­take in the group train­ing ses­sions and share each other’s suc­cesses. Be­ing part of this team has shaped me into a bet­ter triath­lete and I’m lucky enough to call many of my team­mates and train­ing part­ners my best friends.”

The club’s pres­ence in the greater com­mu­nity ex­tends be­yond triathlon. Be­sides plan­ning and host­ing their an­nual Wolfe Is­land Duathlon ev­ery year, they par­tic­i­pate as a team in the city’s Terry Fox Run and the Right to Play Spin-a-thon. As the club con­tin­ues to de­velop, its pres­ence within Cana­dian triathlon will con­tinue to ex­pand as well. Co-pres­i­dent Brit­tany Mcearchern was the youngest Cana­dian to qual­ify for the 2013 Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship. Sev­eral other ath­letes have had podium fin­ishes in mul­ti­ple dis­tances so far this year. The mem­bers of Queen’s Triathlon Club are known to dom­i­nate the younger age-group cat­e­gories at short-course and long-course events. With their en­ergy and fierce de­ter­mi­na­tion, there’s no doubt they will con­tinue to pro­duce some of On­tario’s most promis­ing up-and-com­ing young triath­letes.

Claire Dun­can is a swim­mer-turned triath­lete liv­ing in Montreal.

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