Triathlon club brings athletes together

Runners, swimmers and bikers have united to form a cooperative exercise-based support group in the form of Geneseo's Triathlon Club.

After hosting a triathlon here in Geneseo last September, the club's goal is to make sure the members are ready for any personal endeavors.

The club welcomes athletes of all experience levels who want to become involved. It provides students with an opportunity to find people who love to run, bike and/or swim, and do these activities in a group.

"We're more of a support group than a competitive team," said senior Karen Lemischak, co-president of the club. The support and friendships the members build through the club became quite clear as another member stopped by and had an in-depth, cheerful conversation on the multi-mile run he had completed that weekend.

The club hosted its first triathlon in September 2009. The 300-yard swimming portion preceded the 8-mile bike tour around town and the 3-mile run through campus. Lemischak and fellow senior co-President Kate Olscamp said they believe the event was an absolute success, and hope the club hosts more triathlons in the years to come.

In addition to hosting the triathlon, the club is involved in a shoe drive that donates shoes to the relief effort in Haiti. Olscamp and Lemischak said that runners should switch running shoes about every 400 miles that they run. Both said they got sick of having old shoes that don't even look worn lying around and decided to take action to help out after the earthquake in Haiti.

The club is built on the principle that there are many Geneseo students who are viable runners and swimmers, but the extremely strong track and swim teams have excluded them from the varsity programs here.

The range of ability levels is a main component of the club's success, said Olscamp. "People can share experiences and learn from one another," she said. "We draw from other people's talents." The two co-presidents also cited the club as providing group-motivated learning because people don't necessarily always want to go out and run.

At the triathlons, some of the club members participate while others go to volunteer and support their fellow members. Olscamp said that triathlons are "so unique because it's so individual. [But with the club,] there's a support group for each runner."

Olscamp and Lemischak co-founded the organization in the fall of their sophomore year, and said they were surprised to find over 30 people at the first interest meeting. By the end of the spring 2008 semester, the pair of friends completed the process of becoming recognized by the college.

In just its second full year as a recognized club, the group looks toward its first transition period as its founders graduate. "The people who are taking it over have been in [the club], and we've just handed it over," Lemischak said. "It's going to be interesting, it's going to be good."

The club meets at 8 p.m. on Mondays in Newton 206 to discuss the prior week of training and to set up group exercises for the coming week. E-mail for more information on the club, or to donate shoes to their Haiti charity cause.