DREW SHELLENBERGER

Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved the sport of triathlon. I did my first race when I was 4 and a half years old and I was hooked! My Mom says I whistled through the entire bike portion of the race. Even though I liked triathlon, my first professional sports aspiration was to be a pro golfer.  I went as Tiger Woods for Halloween one year – my sister Erika was my caddie and got to carry my bag of clubs and all the candy we got! I took my sister with me to my first golf lessons and now she is a college golfer!

I started swimming competitively when I was 5 and a half. My favorite stroke has always been the breaststroke, but I have grown to love open water and pool distance swims, too. I live on a small lake in Indianapolis where a lap of the perimeter is about 500 yards.

When I was in second grade, my sister took me with her to middle school cross country practice and I was hooked.  The coach let me run with the team, and it was a lot of fun being the little kid on the team.

In Indianapolis, there is a kids’ triathlon series which has about 6 races each summer. When I was 7, I started racing in those races and did them until I was 13. A few of the folks who have raced in those races are my tri buddies from Indy – Zach Wilson and Gillian Cridge.

My Dad has done triathlons for almost 30 years. He’s qualified for the World Championships at every distance from sprint up to Ironman. He is the one who got me into the sport and I would expect we will be racing together for many years!

Here are some of the things I like about triathlon:

  • Meeting new people and making friends from all across the country (and around the world!)
  • The excitement when I hear, “Gentlemen, you are in the hands of the starter!”
  • A challenging swim course with a little bit of wind and chop, but no wetsuits.
  • Geeking out with my bike. I enjoy tinkering with all its parts to make the bike ready to be ridden really fast!
  • The feeling of freewheeling during the run when it all seems to fall into place.
  • Group selfies on the podium

Things I don’t like about triathlon:

  • Cold water
  • The heartbeat music they play at all ITU races at the starting line. My suggestion is that at big age group races where waves start by age, the music they play for each group is from when they were teenagers.
  • Swims that are wetsuit legal.
  • When the announcer tells everyone on the podium to link hands and lift them overhead. No one ever wanted to see a picture of a bunch of teenagers’ armpits!

YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES

The third Youth Olympic Games will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October 2018. There are 32 sports in which 3,998 athletes who represent countries from all around the globe will compete. There are 87 athletes competing for the USA. This is the first Olympic event which has equal opportunities for both male and female athletes.

The triathlon events will be contested in the first week of the 2-week Games. Parker Albright will represent the US women on Sunday, October 7th. I will represent the US men the following day. There are 32 athletes in each of our races. Then the 2 of us will each be on a mixed team relay on Thursday, the 11th. We may not be on the same relay team, as teams are formed after individual racing is completed. All the 64 athletes will be on MTRs each of which represents a continent. Our team will be the Americas (remember South Americans are Americans, too!).

The YOG is just like the Olympics in lots of ways:

  • There is an Olympic Village where we will stay the entire 2 and a half weeks we are there. Rooms have either 4 or 8 guys in them.
  • There are opening and closing ceremonies. The Buenos Aires YOG opening ceremonies are the first Olympic opening events which are not going to be held in a stadium. They are held in downtown Buenos Aires.
  • There are 8 venues all around the Buenos Aires region. At our venue, Green Park, there is Equestrian, Tennis, Beach Volleyball, Cycling, and Futsal in addition to Triathlon.

I am honored to represent the USA at the Games! I can’t wait to travel to the Games with Team USA and hang out at the Olympic venues after my racing is done.  Nothing would be better than the season to end with a YOG victory!