USA Triathlon Wrapped: A Look Back at the Biggest Triathlon Triumphs of 2023
by Kennedy Terry
As we eagerly await 2024, sports enthusiasts in the USA Triathlon community are marking their calendars for extraordinary upcoming events. Not only is 2024 heading the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, but USA Triathlon is hosting over 47 state championships, ten national championships, and is continuing to sanction over 1,000 local events and races for the year.
While we patiently wait to ring in the new year, let’s hit rewind on USA Triathlon’s biggest moments from 2023.
USA Triathlon kicked off the 2023 National Championship season in Anchorage, Alaska, for the 2023 USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championships. The event featured the true winter triathlon format of run-bike-ski and was hosted by Alaska Triathlon Club.
If you are interested in trying the new and upcoming run-bike-ski format or other winter formats, register for 2024 Winter Triathlon National Championships located in Breckenridge, Colorado, this February!
USA Triathlon’s fourth annual Endurance Exchange conference was held in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Convention Center. The conference featured a mix of hands-on, experiential learning workshops — including in-water sessions at the University of Texas Jamail Texas Swimming Center — and lecture experiences to educate athletes, coaches, race directors and more members of the multisport community.
2024 Endurance Exchange heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, in January, on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus. With live sessions presented by the industry’s top coaches, race directors and industry professionals, the conference will feature a mix of hands-on, experiential learning workshops and lectures to educate athletes, coaches, race directors and more. To register and find more information on Endurance Exchange, see the website.
In February, USA Triathlon launched the Women’s Series, which featured women’s-only triathlons nationwide. The Women’s Series gives female athletes, from beginner to experienced, a space to celebrate with other women in the multisport community. Events in the USA Triathlon Women’s Series feature a variety of different race distances and formats, including sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons, aquabikes (swim-bike), aquathlon (swim-run), duathlons (run-bike-run), relay categories and youth events.
Check the Women’s Series page soon for 2024 races.
Going into March, USA Triathlon announced three-time Paralympic medalist and three-time World Triathlon Para Champion, Grace Norman, as the Watch Us Thrive NIL Collective Ambassador. Norman is an Ohio native who earned a nursing degree from Cedarville University, where she competed on the NCAA track and cross-country teams. At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Grace competed and medaled in both track & field and paratriathlon, becoming the first U.S. athlete to win gold at paratriathlon's Paralympic debut. At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Norman added a Paralympic triathlon silver medal, and recently punched her Paris 2024 ticket.
Financed through donors, the Watch Us Thrive Collective supports women’s triathlon student-athletes in the form of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) payments. In return, NIL recipients will promote triathlons and the NCAA women’s triathlon movement on their social media channels and through other digital avenues. Those who are interested in furthering the goals of the Collective can donate here. All donations to the Collective are tax-deductible.
April brought USA Triathlon to the 2023 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Lake Lanier, Georgia. For a second year in a row, Queens University of Charlotte took home the national title, with strong performances from both the women’s and men’s teams. The University of California- Berkeley and the University of Colorado-Boulder, placed second and third, respectively.
In addition, USA Triathlon hosted the 2023 Multisport National Championships in Irving, Texas, while also announcing the 2024 and 2025 Multisport National Championships will be held in Omaha, Nebraska. At Multisport Fest, athletes earned titles in aquathlon, super sprint triathlon and duathlon along with aquabike and standard duathlon. The five-day event, which started with an open water swim competition, is a celebration of multisport’s diverse group of race formats. Athletes traveled across the U.S. to compete for the titles.
Ready to race multisport at the 2024 Multisport National Championships Festival in June? You can find event information and registration here.
April shower brought May flowers to USA Triathlon while continuing the “You Buy, We Give” Youth membership campaign. This campaign is a continued effort to increase opportunities for current and prospective youth athletes across the multisport community. USA Triathlon matched every adult annual membership, renewed or purchased, by donating one youth membership back into the community to encourage participation among kids and help offset costs. As another part of this effort, USA Triathlon help clubs sanction and register youth and junior events in 2023 with the expansion of the Youth Scholarship Program.
Furthermore, Team USA Paratriathletes secured twelve medals at World Triathlon Para Series Yokohama, leading all countries. The elite trio of Paralympians Hailey Danz, Melissa Stockwell and Allysa Seely swept the podium in the PTS2 category, with Danz taking the gold. Kelly Elmlinger won gold in the women’s PTS4 category and Owen Cravens, guided by pro triathlete Ben Hoffman, won the men’s PTVI category, his first medal in a World Triathlon Para Series race. You can read about U.S. medalists from the World Para Series Yokohama here and find other paratriathlon event results here.
In June, USA Triathlon announced the launch of the High School Program, an initiative to grow multisport participation and opportunities for high school-aged and youth athletes in 2023 and beyond. The High School Program focuses on introducing the sport to new triathletes through non-draft super sprint and sprint formats for triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, off-road triathlon and duathlon and winter triathlon. State-based talent scouts across the U.S. will help assist in the growth and connection of the high school multisport community along with developing a race calendar. If you are interested in participating in the High School Program, please reach out to USA Triathlon’s Chad Cunningham and Tim Yount at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Starting the second half of the year off right, in July the USA Triathlon Officials Program was recognized as a World Triathlon Accredited Technical Officials Education Program, joining 16 other leading federations with the designation and global recognition. This accreditation was a major step forward in the long-term efforts to achieve alignment with global standards in multisport. By achieving World Triathlon ATOEP recognition, USA Triathlon improves the opportunity to submit a full slate of official nominees for the LA 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
USA Triathlon launched the year-long campaign for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games titled Ignite The Spark, presented by Ka’Chava. This year-long campaign initiative signifies the resilience, determination, and dedication of the multisport community — from Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to the growing diverse community of athletes, coaches, race directors, and more across the U.S. This campaign serves to empower triathletes of every level to be advocates by giving back to their community and sharing their stories.
USA Triathlon encourages its members to get involved by submitting their own stories by using the online submission form and continue to Ignite The Spark with us on our way to Paris 2024!
This August, over 6,000 athletes raced in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at USA Triathlon Nationals and the PTO U.S. Open. This event combined the longstanding Sprint and Olympic-Distance National Championship with Youth & Junior Nationals into one big event.
The PTO U.S. Open race featured some of the biggest names in the sport, as U.S. Olympic medalist Taylor Knibb, along with Jackie Hering, Sam Long, Olympian Ben Kanute and Olympic medalists Kristian Blummenfelt and Jan Frodeno all took part in the racing. Knibb and Frodeno took the wins.
While in Milwaukee for Nationals, the USA Triathlon Foundation Gala and Hall of Fame Induction was held at Discovery World. The 12th induction class, which included the 12 original Hawaiian IRONMAN Triathlon finishers, were formally recognized. The gala raised more than $180,000 to support the Foundation’s mission of swim, bike and run for all.
Meanwhile across the globe in Paris, U.S. elite athletes got their first look at the triathlon courses for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris. This was the first auto-qualification opportunity for the U.S. elites, with Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson punching their ticket to Paris 2024.
Other athletes who competed include Seth Rider, Chase McQueen, Darr Smith and Matt McElroy. Along with Knibb, the women’s U.S. athletes included Summer Rappaport, Taylor Spivey, Kirsten Kasper and Katie Zaferes.
USA Triathlon Age-Group Team USA triathletes traveled to Pontevedra, Spain for the World Triathlon Age-Group Championships in September. The U.S. totaled over 400 athletes and 58 medals—the most of any country. The events included super-print triathlon, standard distance triathlon and standard distance aquabike.
The 2023 World Triathlon Para World Championships were also held in Pontevedra, Spain, where seven U.S. paratriathletes won medals and five U.S. paratriathletes qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games to cap their season. Grace Norman (PTS5), Hailey Danz (PTS2) and Kelly Elmlinger (PTS4) won gold in their respective sports classes, while Kendall Gretsch (PTWC) and Mohamed Lahna (PTS2) won silver medals — all five qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralypic Games.
U.S. teammates Chris Hammer (PTS5) and Allysa Seely (PTS2) both secured bronze medals to round out the seven medals. Read more about the 2023 World Triathlon Para World Championships here.
U.S. elite triathletes rounded out the World Triathlon Series in Pontevedra with five U.S. women placing in the top 20 (Spivey, Rappaport, Knibb, Kasper and Zaferes) and Matt McElroy placing in the top 20 for the U.S. elite men.
USA Triathlon announced the 2024 Olympic and Sprint Distance National Championships will be heading to Atlantic City, New Jersey, next September. As USA Triathlon’s longest-running annual event, Olympic and Sprint Distance National Championships typically attracts over 6,000 athletes every year. To register for this event, you can find the website here.
In a collaborative effort, USA Triathlon and USA Cycling announced their collaboration at Endurance Exchange 2024 to provide exceptional education and networking opportunities. This collaboration aims to unite the endurance sports community and encourage the multisport community to expand their knowledge base.
NCAA Collegiate women traveled to Tempe, Arizona, for the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships to compete for the glory. Arizona State University swim, biked and ran to its seventh Division I title in a row, and Lenoir-Rhyne University of North Carolina won its second consecutive Division II title. North Central College in Illinois also won its second consecutive Division III title, and fifth in program history.
In the individual race, Maira Carreau of the University of Denver won the Division I title, Lenoir-Rhyne’s Sabrina Fleig won the Division II title, and Hailey Poe of North Central College won the Division III national title, her third consecutively. If you are interested in being a collegiate triathlete or want to learn more about women’s collegiate triathlon, visit the website here.
December was a mellow month for triathletes during the holiday season. Super League Triathlon partnered with USA Triathlon for the Long Beach Legacy Triathlon in 2024, a joint venture between the companies that will take place next July at the proposed venue for the 2028 L.A. Olympic and Paralympic Games.
USA Triathlon also announced the 2024 Youth & Junior Nationals will be held in West Des Moines, Iowa, organized in partnership with Rip Roar Events and the Flatland Cup Triathlon. Learn more and register for 2024 Youth & Junior Nationals today!
As triathletes and paratriathletes continue to rest up for the upcoming season, check back to the USA Triathlon website for important news and information, and going into the new year, remember to Ignite the Spark within you and your community.
USA Triathlon had an incredible year of achievements, so join us in 2024 as we prepare for an even bigger year! If you thought there was much to see in 2023, just wait until 2024.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from USA Triathlon!