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Patrick Bieszke (fourth from left) and his teammates from the PATCO Junior Championships in Brazil.

The Harmony of Swim, Bike, Run

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It’s curtain call for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the next thing on the mind of Junior Elite triathlete Patrick Bieszke is his Saturday afternoon bike intervals. Hailing from Orland Park, Ill., Bieszke supplements his training with the extra-curricular activities that plenty of high school students take part in. Yet his success with the violin takes nothing away from his success in the world of multisport.

pbThis weekend, Bieszke heads to West Chester, Ohio, to compete in the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships, and it won’t be his first time on a big stage. The world of triathlon for Youth Elites and Junior Elites has exploded in recent years with international races continuously popping up and a high level of performance by some of the youngest athletes in the world. Each athlete exhibits a dedication similar to some of the world’s greatest professionals, yet they must also play the role of students and teenagers.

Located outside of Chicago, Bieszke’s hometown and training ground provides acres of wooded running trails. His team, the Multisport Madness Mach II Triathlon Team, can make the indoor cycling sessions and hours in the pool a social gathering steeped in hard work and young dreams in their earliest stages. “I already know this is something I want to do on a professional level so I’m getting used to the time commitment,” Bieszke said.

Time management plays a crucial role in the life of a high school athlete, musician and student. “Patrick is one who is so dedicated to his triathlon interests, that he will do some of his workouts while other athletes are still sleeping,” said his coach, John Lorenz. Bieszke spends 25-30 hours each week swimming, biking and running. This training happens outside of his 8-hour school day, making discipline of high importance.

On top of running with his high school cross-country team after class, Bieszke often finds an hour to hop on the bike before school starts. His evenings are spent in the pool with the Hickory Willow Swim Team, where he got his start in the world of endurance sports. During peak season, Bieszke is training in each of the three disciplines every day.

With a strength for the swim-bike, Bieszke started in the pool, swimming competitively until he was 14 before accepting the draw of multisport. “It’s exciting to do all three sports. I get a different kind of rush from triathlon,” Bieszke said.

Competing in his first triathlon at the age of 9 and taking third in his division at the Chicago Kids Triathlon, Bieszke has seen continued success as the venues get larger and the fields more competitive.

He is a specialist of draft-legal racing, not having competed in many non-draft races. Though only a recreational bicycle rider with his father through his younger years, Bieszke has become a cyclist comfortable with rubbing elbows against other racers.

“Usually the bike is where you can employ tactics” Bieszke said of the use of teammates through draft-legal racing. His team will be sending nearly 30 athletes to West Chester this weekend and Bieszke is excited to be with a group of teammates and friends. “I know my own goals and we know where we want to be as a team,” he said.

Still, his life in triathlon must be molded with the life of a teenager and more importantly, an accomplished violinist. At age 8, he faced a standing ovation at the renowned Star Plaza Theater following a violin performance while hula hooping. His passion for music has continued through high school and he can still be found in the top chairs of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Northwest Indiana Youth Symphony Orchestra.

pb“What makes Patrick unique is that he is able to keep two things like triathlons and violin at such a high level” said his mother, Anita Bieszke. His family has spent several weekends watching the finish line and the orchestra stage throughout his career in both triathlon and music.

This year, Bieszke will toe the line with the top Junior Elites in the country, moving up to the Junior Elite ranks for the first year. It will be a familiar feeling. Last year Bieszke was inched out of first place by one second in a sprint to the finish line of the Youth Elite National Championships. Now he returns with a little more experience in what will prove to be a fast weekend for Youth Elites and Junior Elites.

Nearly 800 young triathletes, from Junior Elite to Youth Elite to youth age-groupers, will compete in the 2013 USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships on Aug. 3-4. A live blog will be available on Saturday, Aug. 3. More information on the event can be found at usatriathlon.org/youthnationals.

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