Courtesy: Denver Athletics
DENVER – The University of Denver Division of Athletics and Recreation has received a grant to add women’s triathlon as its 18th intercollegiate varsity sport, Vice Chancellor for Athletics, Recreation and Ritchie Center Operations Karlton Creech announced on Wednesday. Denver is the 37th institution in the country to add women’s triathlon as a varsity sport, and the ninth at the Division I level.
Denver’s addition of women’s triathlon was made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level.
“On behalf of the University of Denver, we are excited to add the sport of women’s triathlon to our fall lineup,” Creech said. “The USA Triathlon Foundation Grant, and grants like it, provide excellent opportunities for colleges and universities to sponsor emerging women’s sports across the country. This addition will help us attract new students from across the country as our coursework, our campus and the Rocky Mountain backdrop provide future Denver triathletes with the opportunity to pursue success at the highest level in the classroom and in competition.”
Triathlon was approved in January 2014 as the next Emerging Sport for Women for NCAA Division I, II and III institutions. Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes three regional qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Races are sprint distance, featuring an open water 750-meter swim, draft legal 20-kilometer cycling and a 5K run.
“The addition of the University of Denver to the women’s collegiate triathlon family is groundbreaking for several reasons,” USA Triathlon CEO Rocky Harris said. “Colorado is one of the nation’s thriving triathlon hubs. With DU’s prestigious academic reputation, and as the first Division I program in the state to add the sport, the school is sure to attract top student-athletes and become a force on the national stage.”
Men’s and women’s swimming assistant coach Barbara Perkins has been named the program’s first head coach. Perkins ended 2019 ranked 30th in the world in the women’s 30-34 age group, the ninth-best ranked American in the division. The former Air Force assistant is a two-time Kona IRONMAN World Championship finisher (2017 and 2019) and a six-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship qualifier (2015-20).
“I am extremely excited for women’s triathlon to find a new home at the University of Denver,” Perkins said. “With my background in coaching swimming at the DI level as well as my racing experience as an elite triathlete myself, I am confident that I am the right person to get this program started and feel beyond fortunate to have been selected for the position. Triathlon is an emerging sport and is giving young women new opportunities to compete at the collegiate level. I am thrilled that Denver has the opportunity to be a part of the process to continue to grow this sport.”
DU joins Arizona State, Delaware State, East Tennessee State, Hampton, TCU, San Francisco, South Dakota and Wagner as the programs that now sponsor the sport at the Division I level.
“Denver is the absolute perfect place for the sport of triathlon,” Perkins said. “Our facilities include a 50 meter Olympic size swimming pool, treadmills and space for a smart bike trainer studio, Washington Park is less than a mile away from campus and is the ideal set up for closed circuit bike rides, runs or brick work outs, and we are 15 minutes away from a multitude of rides in the mountains. We have so many resources at our fingertips including the home of USA Triathlon and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center just down the road in Colorado Springs. Colorado is the home to many of the world’s best professional triathletes and will serve as a great jumping off point to the future of our sport. The future is bright for triathlon at the University of Denver and we can’t wait to get started this fall.”
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at
international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).