Thousands of kids around the world participate in triathlon each year. Youth participation represents one the fastest growing areas of the sport today. The "Youth" age division is comprised of athletes under the age of 16, with racing age determined on December 31 of the competition year.

Youth athletes have the opportunity to compete in two distinct styles of racing. Most youth athletes participate in youth-only triathlons, sometimes called "Kids Triathlons." Age categories are generally broken down into ages 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, and 13-15. Distances are short and intended simply to expose our youngest triathletes to basic elements of triathlon and give them a taste of the unique sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a triathlon. For a chart of recommended race distances for Youth, click here. 

Youth athletes between the ages of 13 and 15 also have the opportunity to compete in draft-legal triathlons, called Youth Elite Cups. These super-sprint distance races mimic the ITU World Cup and Olympic format of racing. Youth Elites do not have to qualify for these events, but generally should have above-average swim skills, the ability to ride in a peloton, and a strong run. For information on these events, click here. 

The focus of youth multisport events should be fun. Rather than emphasizing competition at this age, kids, parents, and coaches should focus on enjoyment, and on learning proper skills and healthy exercise habits that will last a lifetime.

Looking for a coach? Find a complete listing of youth and junior certified coaches in your area by clicking here.

USA Triathlon Youth Guide


Throughout USA Triathlon's Youth Guide, you will learn about USA Triathlon and its variety of youth events and programs. Additionally, there is a series of articles for youth athletes and their parents to learn more about multisport. From the basics to the psychological aspects to tips for getting to the next level, this guide has it all. If you have a participant under the age of 7, please know that additional precautions should be taken such as safety measures, ensuring the participant can swim without assistance and has an overall understanding of multisport. This will make certain the child is participating in a safe and fun environment.