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Arizona Athletics adds women’s triathlon

A new sport is coming to Arizona Athletics, and it’s one that’s particularly suited for Tucson.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke announced Monday the addition of women’s triathlon, which will debut in the fall of 2023. Arizona is in the beginning process of a search for the program’s first-ever head coach.

“After a thorough evaluation of our 21-sport model, we are excited to add women’s triathlon as our newest program as we continue to fulfill our Wildcat Way mission of developing academic, athletic and life champions,” Heeke said. “Triathlon is a growing NCAA sport that has tremendous popularity locally in Southern Arizona and nationally throughout the country. Additionally, our community is a marquee training ground for triathlon, which makes this an ideal addition to our department. This announcement comes as we celebrate the milestone anniversary of Title IX, and I look forward to watching Arizona women’s triathlon grow as another point of pride for the University of Arizona.”

Women’s triathlon was approved as the next Emerging Sport for Women for all NCAA institutions in January of 2014, according to an Arizona Athletics statement. The draft-legal races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

The NCAA allots a maximum 6.5 scholarships.

ASU, Denver, TCU and San Francisco are among western athletic departments who sponsor the sport. ASU is among the top programs in the country at women’s triathlon, having won the national championship in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

National championship are usually held at Tempe Town Lake.

“The addition of women’s triathlon at the University of Arizona represents a major milestone in the women’s collegiate triathlon movement,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The state of Arizona is a world-renowned triathlon haven. With access to a variety of trails and roads that offer high-quality, year-round training, the school is sure to attract top student-athletes. USA Triathlon is thrilled to see increased competitive opportunities for student-athletes at the NCAA Division I level — more opportunities will help drive collegiate triathlon competition to the highest level.”

Arizona’s preliminary schedule for rollout of women’s triathlon is as follows:

Fall of 2022 – Head Coach National Search

Spring of 2023 – National recruitment of student-athletes

Spring of 2023 – Fall Scheduling

September 2023 – Official Competition Season Begins