Triathlon makes returns to the National Finals in 2021. As a multi-discipline competition involving three continuous endurance sports; swimming, cycling and running, it promises to be a unique inclusion in the competition schedule. Para Tri also made its debut in 2018 as part of the wider triathlon programme.

Triathletes compete for fastest overall course completion time, including the two transition phases (T1 and T2) where competitors change equipment and sometimes clothing for each discipline. Paratriathlon is a variant of triathlon for athletes with physical disabilities. 

Athletes compete in six categories according to the nature of their physical impairments, and will often involve athletes racing on handbikes, tandem bicycles with a guide and racing chairs. There are many different distances ranging from races for young children over very short distances to long distance Ironman events (3.8 km swim, 180km bike, 42km run).

One of the challenges of putting on a triathlon event is ensuring there are appropriate venues for all three disciplines in the same area, meaning courses often vary hugely. The swim element can be pool-based, but for elite events it is normally in open-water such as the sea, lakes and rivers. The cycling element is normally draft-legal in elite Olympic racing and non-drafting in Paratriathlon racing. 

Drafting is a technique used to reduce wind resistance, and save energy, when riding in a pack. The run element is normally on tarmac. There are many other multi-sport events associated with triathlon, the two most common being Aquathlon (swim > run) and Duathlon (run > bike > run).

Selection policy

Download the selection policy for Triathlon

Triathlon at the 2021 School Games

Day 1 (University campus)

Aquathlon: pool swim followed by a run. Heats and Finals format.

Day 2 (Prestwold racing circuit)

Bike skills test: 10 laps of a 50m figure of 8 circuit, completed individually in the fastest possible time. Circuit race: competitors will start by running into T1 and collecting their bikes, before completing a circuit race, followed by T2 and a short run to the finish line.

Day 3 (University campus)

Triathlon: Mixed Team Relay.


Thursday 2 September 2021

Loughborough Pool and Campus
16:00-19:00 Aquathlon

Friday 3 September 2021

Prestwold Hall
10:30-16:00 Bike Test and Circuit Race

Saturday 4 September 2021

Loughborough University Pool and Campus
16:30-19:30 Para-Tri Swim, Bike, Run Team Mixed Relay Triathlon

Did you know?

  • The first modern triathlon took place in San Diego, USA, in 1974 with the first triathlon in the UK being in 1983.
  • Triathlon was first introduced into the Olympics in Sydney (2000) with Paratriathlon being a more recent addition in Rio (2016).
  • In 2017 it was announced that the Triathlon Mixed Team Relay will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020. It has been part of the Commonwealth Games since Glasgow 2014.
  • The transition phases are often referred to as the fourth discipline of triathlon, given the importance they can have on how the race plays out.
  • In the 80’s before the introduction of the Trisuit, triathletes (male and female) used to compete in two-piece crop tops and trunks - these were often neon pink or yellow!