UI Triathlon Club provides competitive option for students looking to be part of a team

The TriHawks compete at national meets and offer students of all triathlon backgrounds a chance to get involved with the team.



TriHawks at 2019 national meet in Tempe, Arizona.

Jordan Winke, Sports Reporter

The triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. Olympic Movement. Designated as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in all three NCAA divisions in 2014, the sport has 10 years to gain varsity sponsorship from 40 schools in order to be considered a championship sport.

Currently, 26 colleges have varsity programs and 131 have club programs.

The University of Iowa’s triathlon club, the TriHawks, was founded in 2001. Both the men’s and women’s teams have athletes of all skill levels. Prior triathlon experience is not required for membership. Some athletes, like junior Lauren Steinke, have been competing in triathlons at an elite level since middle school. Others, like seniors Katarina Newcamp and Michael Shea became involved in the sport when they got to college.

“I joined my freshman year because I was looking to stay active and make friends,” Newcamp said. “The team provided an approachable atmosphere to try new things.”

Even though it is not an NCAA championship sport yet, club triathlon has a national meet that is contested yearly. It is the highlight of many athletes’ seasons. The race is comprised of a 1,500-meter swim, a 24.8-mile bike, and a 6.2-mile run.

“My favorite memory is 2019 collegiate nationals,” Steinke said. “We all flew down to Tempe, Arizona, and raced for two days. It was a blast seeing all of the collegiate athletes who share a passion and watching my amazing teammates race.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the national meet was canceled this year weeks before it was scheduled to take place. Facility closures also affected training options for the team.

“Training was a struggle with pools being closed and winter being in full force,” Steinke said. “I sometimes find myself in a rut to find motivation to train when our race season is still undetermined. Having nationals canceled in the spring was tough since we had all been training so hard.”

During the school year, the TriHawks practice five days a week and alternate between organized swimming workouts and bike workouts and rides. Membership is open to everyone which, according to Shea, creates an inclusive, supportive environment.

“I really enjoy how the team is set up,” said Shea. “…We are all each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We train together, hang out together, and travel together and at the end of the day, we just want to see each other succeed.”

The combination of swimming, biking, and running allows athletes with different strengths to excel in their own area. Steinke loves the opportunity to explore while she is biking while Shea enjoys the physical and mental challenge of long-distance running.

“One of the greatest feelings to me is seeing the finish line and sprinting to the end knowing you gave it everything you had,” said Shea. “I always tell people, ‘If you need any inspiration, go to the finish line of a triathlon or a marathon, and you’ll leave with the goal to finish one yourself.’”