The North West Triathlon Club (NWTC)has gone from strength to strength since it's formation in 1983 but has doubled its membership in the past few years. The popularity of the sport is booming thanks to the success of club's like North West Triathlon.
Triathletes of all abilities from the success stories of members such as Olympian Aileen Morrison and elite triathlete Eimear O'Brien to the beginners and intermediates are certain to get an equal warm welcome at the regular club training sessions.
The growing success of the club across the four triathlon distances (sprint - 750m swim, 20k cycle, 5k run; Olympic - 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run; Ironman 70.3 - 1.9k swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run or half marathon; and Ironman 3.9k swim, 180k bike and a full marathon of 42.2k) has been attributed to the specialised coaching and tailored training regimes put in place. Many of the training structures were laid down in the club by local triathlon guru and all round athlete, the late Colm Quigley. The man erstwhile dubbed the club's 'spiritual leader' and the 'tinman', Paddy McLaughlin explains: “Colm’s contribution to the club was tremendous. He put a coaching pattern in place which changed the way we train and think about training. In terms of the swimming coaching the contribution of Léan McLaughlin has been really important to the club, her coaching has been a great draw for new members - she really pushes everyone to their potential in the pool.”
The club now has six qualified coaches to help members achieve the results they aspire to. “We have specific training plans for people to build towards their goals for the season whether they want to do a sprint, Olympic, ironman 70.3 or ironman distance. So each member can work towards their specific goals," Paddy says.
The success of the club year on year has been built on humble beginnings in the 1980s as the very sport of triathlon started to flourish after the very first 1970s events in California (triathlon) and Hawaii (ironman). Veteran triathletes Terry Donnelly and Roisin Lynch have been involved since the very beginning. Indeed, Terry is one of only two people - local man Danny Sheerin being the other - to have competed in every single Liam Ball event since its inception.
Retired schoolteacher St Cecilia’s College, Roisin, missed only one of the events because she was pregnant at the time. She recalls the inception of NWTC. “In 1983 triathlon was a fairly new sport that had grabbed the attention of athletes around the world. A group people all interested in the different sports got together at Templemore Sports Complex to talk about the formation of a club, among them were Adrian Kelly, Raymond McCann, Danny Gallagher, Sean Hargan, Paddy Warren, Noel White, Paddy Carr, Martin McCallion and John Cannon. At the meeting it was agreed that a general invitation be extended to anyone interested and the club was officially formed at the next meeting which I attended with others, including Terry.”
Roisin admits being just a little green as the club made its first outing to an event in 1983. “I distinctly remember getting out of the water and then drying myself off and putting my socks on, I was in no hurry - I suppose it just shows how naive we were. I remember Anne Paul, who at that time was becoming leading triathlete, telling me not to be wasting time, stating ‘it’s a race, get on with it’.
“With the start of the Liam Ball Triathlon (Templemore Triathlon at first), it really took off in terms of popularity. I remember that Omagh man Kym Cox won the first one and Dessie McHenry won it five years in a row after that.” Dessie, or least his wife, will also be well remembered for another contribution to the club - the introduction of trisuits. “Dessie’s wife introduced the club to trisuits, she made them herself and started a wee business making them. She made a special suit for Dessie with a big Superman ‘S’ badge on the front.”
Terry Donnelly recalls taking part in a few Milk Triathlon events in the years before the formation of the local club along with fellow club stalwart and Irish triathlon international Frank Dunlop. “Triathlon had sparked the imaginations of people involved in cycling, running and swimming, and was really taking off. Myself and Frankie Dunlop and a few others did a couple of Milk Triathlons which had been taking place for a few years before a group got together and formed the club.
“Liam Ball, who competed in the Olympics in 1968 and 1972, was the manager of the complex at the time and was very supportive. We held the Templemore Triathlon for a couple of years and it was later dedicated to Liam who died at just 32 years old.”
NWTC is a club experiencing rapid growth at the minute but the door is always open for new members. As Patrick McLaughlin explains: “If you are looking to set yourself a new challenge of competing in and finishing a triathlon, whatever the distance, or just looking for a fun and enjoyable way of getting fit, then the NWTC might just be what you are looking for. Please feel free to come along to any of our training sessions.”
So whats stopping you, it's a great sport, it's a great club all we need is you. To join speak to any member, come down to a swim session on a thursday evening or download a membership form on the membership page.
Remember club Motto "Swim, Bike, Run, FUN"
We will see you soon :-)