Hundreds of children and teens will be swimming, biking, and running through Voice of America Park this weekend. The 2017 USA Youth and Junior Triathlon National Championships are taking over August 5-6.
"This event is the showcase event for the nation's top up-and-coming triathletes," says Caryn Maconi, communications manager at USA Triathlon (USAT).
Roughly a thousand athletes ages 7-19 from around the country will compete. Events for the younger kids are "low key," Maconi says. They cover shorter distances and many of the athletes participate in swim team programs in their hometowns.
Many have also grown up around the sport. "A lot of these kids, their parents are triathletes, their older siblings are triathletes, and they've just gotten into it for fun just to try it out," Maconi says. "Some of them are trying to race competitively at that youth elite level and some of them are just out there for the experience."
Some participants could go on to compete at even higher levels. Maconi points to Taylor Knibb who came up through the system and now competes in the World Triathlon Series. Most recently she took first place in the USA Triathlon Under-23 National Championships. 2016 Olympian Ben Kanute is also an alum, Maconi says, and there are several other National Team members who came through the junior pipeline.
"The top athletes at the Junior Elite Nationals will have the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2018 Junior World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia," Maconi says. "That's a really cool opportunity for those kids in that age range to compete against the best junior athletes in the world."
Spectators are welcome this weekend and some Tristate youngsters are expected to participate in a few events.
This is the sixth year in a row the National Championships have been held in West Chester. Butler County and West Chester entered a deal with USA Triathlon in December 2016 to keep the event here through 2021.
"This type of long-term agreement with a host city is unprecedented for USAT," Maconi says..