Three months ago tonight, Austin Triathlon Club held its kickoff happy hour at the Ginger Man. Since that night, we have been working hard to build a community triathlon club that we hope will serve Austin for years to come. Thank you for getting involved in this all-volunteer effort, and thank you for supporting this club. Whether you're a member, a sponsor, or a facebook fan, we're excited to be working with you to serve the Austin community!
We have so much to be proud of and so much to be excited about. Here are few of the highlights from our first three months:
Thank you to everyone who has pitched in so far. The Club is not possible without your support, enthusiasm, and willingness to give back to the Austin tri community. We hope to see you at the next club happy hour on Saturday, February 24th, at Flour and Vine!
Austin Triathlon Club is a 100% volunteer, member-run club launched in October 2017. Austin Tri Club aims to improve the physical fitness and mental well-being of all members of the Austin community through the promotion and encouragement of the sport of triathlon. Click here to read more about our mission and values.
Dear Austin Triathlon Club Members,
First of all, thank you. Thank you for making the last few months of 2017 such a fun time. Thank you for taking a chance on Austin Triathlon Club and for your enthusiasm to help build this community triathlon club. In less than two months, we are 52 members strong. Club members are signed up for all kinds of triathlons in 2018, everything from Sprints to Olympics to Ironmans to Ultramans. Nearly a dozen of you are training for your first triathlon. Almost half of you are mentoring new triathletes or have signed up to be a mentor.
Your kindness, friendliness, motivation, and community-minded attitude are making this club so much fun. It's been such a joy to see Austin Tri Club members meet each other, make new friends, and support each other. You have inspired me to be a better person and triathlete. Thank you!
Behind the Scenes at Austin Tri Club in 2017
As a community nonprofit, Austin Tri Club values transparency and stewardship, so I’d like to take a few words to share some of the “behind-the-scenes” work here at Austin Tri Club.
The Club officially launched in June 2017, when four local athletes—Josh Rabinowitz, Laura Gilmour, Meghann Jones, and I—finalized the incorporation paperwork to register Austin Triathlon Club as an official nonprofit organization with the State of Texas. Together, we committed to serving as the Club's founding officers and volunteering our time to build this nonprofit.
Between June and October, we voted on and approved bylaws, a website, a logo, and a strategic plan laying out the vision for an all-volunteer, member-run community triathlon club. We also gained a fifth board member, our Director of Training, Larry Norris. After months of spending our evenings and weekends putting the pieces together, we launched Austin Triathlon Club to the public on October 8, 2017. Four weeks later, Austin Tri Club opened membership. The Club gained its first member, and then another, and then another. As of this morning, Austin Triathlon Club has 52 members. This means that in the 8 weeks since we launched membership, the Club has gained on average one new member every day.
When you joined, each one of you paid $40 in membership dues. These dues have gone to the club’s administrative and overhead costs. To date, approximately 1/2 of each members’ dues have gone toward insurance, while the other half have covered costs such as domain name registration, website hosting, logo design, USAT membership, registration with the Secretary of State, PO Box rental, and basic club gear, like water bottles and swim caps. No financial compensation goes to any of the club officers (indeed per our bylaws, officers and directors are restricted from having any financial interest in the sport of triathlon). This is truly an all-volunteer effort. The Club is led by recreational athletes who share a common desire to support one another and our community.
Now that 2017 has come to an end, what is on tap for 2018?
Finally, over the last 8 weeks, it has been inspiring to meet so many warm, friendly, and fun people. I can say without a doubt that Austin Triathlon Club has the coolest, nicest members anywhere. I’m so excited and thankful to have played a part in launching this club. I cannot wait to start 2018, so we can make it the best year ever.
Austin Triathlon Club President
When I first moved to the States in 2011, my friends back home in the UK were doing their first triathlons, and one of my closest friends was about to start training for her first Ironman. At the time I was just a runner, and I really liked being just a runner, except that I was constantly injured. I decided to buy a bike so i could keep active even when I wasn't able to run, and so that I could keep my friend company on her long training rides. It didn't take long for me to decide that I wanted to do a triathlon myself.
The problem was, I couldn't swim. I mean, I had learned to swim as a child and was ok at breast stroke, but I had never learned to swim with my face in the water the way distance swimming demands, and I hadn't been near water since a near-drowning experience when I got caught in a riptide in 2004. The first time I went to the pool and tried to swim front crawl, the way I knew I would have to if I wanted to do triathlon, I managed to swim about eight strokes before I got confused and panicked and had to stop.
Despite this, I signed up for my first sprint triathlon, which would take place in June 2012. It was a small event in Windsor, England, that a number of my friends were doing. I knew I was fit enough for the bike and the run, and I had been going to the pool regularly and managed a length or two of front crawl at a time. I had expected I would patch that together with paddle and breast stroke and whatever I needed to do to get to the end.
I borrowed a wetsuit and a bike and when we got to the race it was apparent that it was a season starter training race for people who are really really good. I hated coming last in anything, but I resigned myself to it immediately. Like many of the triathlon swims I would do subsequently, the swim was one long panic attack. The panic literally propelled me forward in a mix of breast stroke, side-stroke, and back stroke to get to the end of it, all the while keeping my head completely out of the water (there was NO WAY I was putting my face in the water with all of these people around me - what if they didn't see me and hit me in the face, or what if I went in the wrong direction). I didn't manage to get it under control for the rest of the race either - I gasped all the way through the freezing rainy bike, and all the way through the slippery muddy run.
I had completed my first triathlon but it didn't feel like a triumph. Rather I felt traumatized. I realized that I needed to get serious about swimming if I wanted to do more (which I did, of course... It isn't clear why!).
So I got a coach and she taught me, firstly, how to breathe to stay calm, and secondly, how to put together an efficient swimming stroke. I went to open-water training sessions on weekends and came to love the peacefulness of swimming in open water (as well as the lack of chlorine). I also joined DC Tri Club's masters program (we were living in Washington, D.C. at the time), where I spent most of the first six months hanging on the wall gasping for air as people lapped me and lapped me again.
A couple of weeks before I completed my second triathlon in September of 2012 (an Olympic distance, where I swam about a third of it with my face in the water and spent the rest of it panicking and breast-stroking), inspired by my friend's Ironman I signed up for Ironman Louisville for the following year. From my running days I was in the habit of signing up for another race to "take the edge off" the race I was about to do, but even I realized that signing up for an Ironman was a little bonkers. I knew I could bike 112 miles and run a marathon... So all I had to do was figure out how to swim for 2.4 miles without it being a very long, energy-sapping panic attack.
About halfway through my Ironman training, the swim became my favorite thing. There is little more motivating than a steep learning curve as an adult - we rarely get the opportunity to go from zero to competent. I started to find swimming relaxing for my mind and body, and found a peacefulness in open water swimming that I used to only get from hiking and trail running. I still feared racing - the crowds and choppy water combined with the nerves from racing makes it the hardest part of the race for me (and I even DNF'd in a swim during one of my warm-up races).
On Ironman race day I lined up for a time-trial start, sans-wetsuit (Louisville used to be in August and was HOT), and was excited. Terrified too, of course, but I had worked so hard and waited so long that I was desperate to get into the water. I don't know if I actually had a smile on my face during the swim but I had a smile in my head the whole time. As it got to the end and I could hear the noise at the swim exit, I didn't want it to be over. The swim had become my favorite thing.
Here are my top tips for learning how to swim to race triathlons:
Meghann Jones, Austin Tri Club Vice President
As part of the Austin Tri Club mentoring program, Meghann is hoping to mentor triathletes who are looking to overcome their fears of swimming.
Austin Triathlon Club was launched on October 8, 2017. Austin Triathlon Club is an all-volunteer, member-run community welcoming triathletes of all abilities, with membership opening in November. We encourage you to learn more about the Club by checking out our Mission and Values, the Club Leadership, and how you can get involved.
We would also love to see you at our Kick-Off happy hour on November 6th at the Ginger Man in downtown Austin. For more details and to RSVP, see our facebook event page.
Welcome to the Austin Triathlon Club blog! Through this blog, Austin Tri Club members can share their triathlon knowledge and experiences. If you are interested in blogging for Austin Tri Club, please contact us.