Clemson, South Carolina, will once again host more than 1,200 triathletes from 120 collegiate clubs next month, as the 2016 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships return to the city's Campus Beach on April 22-23.
More than 1,200 collegiate triathletes are expected to compete in Clemson for the Collegiate Club National Championships next month. (Ken Scar/USA Triathlon)
The two-day event will kick off at 9 a.m. ET on Friday, April 22, with the fourth-annual USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships. Up to 75 men and 75 women who qualified for spots on their respective collegiate club teams and USA Triathlon's 10 collegiate conferences will be on the start list. These athletes will cover a 750-meter swim in Lake Hartwell, followed by a 19.6-kilometer draft-legal bike leg and ending with a 5-kilometer run. The draft-legal format is similar to what will be contested this summer at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, as well as ITU World Triathlon Series and World Cup races.
April 22 will also see the introduction of the High School National Championships, added to the program this year. Nearly 100 high school athletes are already registered for the first-time event, which will be a non-drafting format while following the same 750m swim, 19.6k bike and 5k run as the Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships. The High School Program is meant to expand opportunities in the sport for young athletes ages 13-19 and grow triathlon clubs at the high school level, and awards will be given to the top individual finishers as well as the top three clubs.
The traditional Olympic-distance Collegiate Club National Championships event will take place on Saturday, April 23, covering a 1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run course through outskirts of campus and protected forest areas. The women will start at 7:30 a.m. ET, and the first men's wave is scheduled for 10:35 a.m. ET, with the total field capped at 1,400 participants. The paratriathlon open wave, which follows a sprint-distance course, will be available for the second straight year, beginning at 9:35 a.m. ET.
The fifth annual Mixed Team Relay event will also be contested on April 23, with more than 50 relay teams set to compete. The relay will start at 4:15 p.m. ET, and teams are comprised of four athletes (two men and two women), with each athlete covering a 250m swim, 4.1k bike, 1.2k run course. Mixed team relay events have been gaining popularity in the U.S. and worldwide as the ITU pushes for the format to be a possible addition to the program at future Olympic Games.
Qualified athletes may compete in both the draft-legal and Olympic-distance Collegiate National Championship events, and both races will count toward the overall team scores. Winners of individual races as well as all team standings will be announced at the award ceremony, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on April 23 at Tillman Auditorium on the Clemson University campus.
The University of Colorado has earned the Collegiate Club Nationals title for the past six years and returns as the defending champion of the overall team title. UCLA picked up the women's team title again in 2015 for their second straight year as women's champions, and the U.S. Naval Academy won the men's team title, snapping the CU Buffs' five-year streak of winning the men's title. Colorado's Rachael Lenz and Rudy von Berg won last year's Olympic-distance titles and also led their school to victory in the Mixed Team Relay event, while Penn State's Jason West and UCLA's Kelly Kosmo won the Draft-Legal Collegiate Championships.
Visit usatriathlon.org/usatcn16 for complete Collegiate Club Nationals information.
About USA Triathlon: USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
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