QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY TRIATHLON CLUB
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.