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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

City College student creates triathlon club after competing independently

Sylvia Stewart
President of Triathlon club Ava Smith smiles into the camera on March 18, at The Great Meadow on SBCC’s east campus. “I hope to educate more people about my club,” Smith explained.

From diving into the open water to swimming for 750 meters, biking for 12 miles, and finishing with a 3-mile run, Ava Smith does it all. With the emergence of City College’s new triathlon club, Smith finally has an outlet to represent her school while doing the sport she loves. 

Before creating the triathlon club, City College Triathlon Team, in Oct. 2023, Smith was a triathlete competing independently in most big competitions, which came with its own set of challenges. 

“I attended the Collegiate Club National Championships for Triathlon last year in Georgia as an independent, and my place basically didn’t count because I wasn’t a part of a club,” Smith said. “So I made my own.”

This lack of recognition at competitions inspired Smith to create the club, so she and other City College triathletes could compete for the leaderboard while representing the Vaqueros. Smith placed 10th at the 2023 Collegiate National Championships and aspires to come back even stronger in this year’s championship on April 13, where she will be representing City College nationally for the first time.

Though talented in the sport, Smith did not start out as a triathlete. She swam and ran track in high school, then needed a way to get out of the house during COVID-19, so she took up biking and found a love for that as well. 

Coming to City College in 2021, she found a community in the UCSB Triathlon Team, and her passion for triathlon blossomed from there.

“I was kinda in the ideal place athletics-wise for triathlon,” Smith said. “I was never exceptional at each of the sports individually, but when you put them together, I excel because I don’t really have a weak leg of the race.” 

Currently, the NCAA Triathlon only has emerging sports status, which is intended to give women more athletic opportunities at the collegiate level. However, they are looking to get NCAA championship status within the next two years. NCAA championship status would mean each collegiate division level can accept triathlon as a sport. 

Since collegiate triathlon is still emerging in popularity, with only 40 colleges offering it as a sport, there is little knowledge about what exactly it is and how to get started. There are currently only four members of the triathlon club at City College, but they are hoping to grow their community in the years to come. 

“I just hope for more exposure,” Smith explained. “It’s a really niche sport, and the amount of training and equipment scares people off, but I believe it’s a great way to explore the outdoors, get fit, and meet people.”

The City College triathlon club typically practices with the UCSB Triathlon Team and has its own informal running and biking practices, which are organized through a group chat. Smith encourages anyone interested in joining the club or just looking for a place to start with the sport to email her at [email protected].

“Discovering my love for triathlon really changed the course of my life, so maybe I can do the same for someone else,” Smith said.

City College’s Triathlon Team’s next competition will be held on March 23 at Lake Lopez, San Luis Obispo.

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