University club combines three sports in one

By Annette Gonzalez

For Robert Trimble, sports were a big part of his life growing up. His mom did not allow him to sit around all day and watch cartoons, so instead he became involved in soccer, baseball, basketball, competitive swimming and running.

During Trimble’s freshman year at the University, he joined the cycling club and continued running and swimming. He eventually decided to sign up for a club on campus that would allow him to do all three – the Fighting Illini Triathlon club.

Trimble, now a senior in ACES, is vice president and treasurer of the Fighting Illini Triathlon club, a sports club on campus with 25 members from both the campus and the community.

“The main goal of this club is to provide an outlet for other triathletes throughout the area to make connections throughout the U of I and the community,” Trimble said.

The club, which began in 2002, was recognized in 2007 as an official sports club at the University. Members of all athletic abilities train and participate in triathlons across the country.

Club members are currently training for the USA Triathlon on April 19 in Alabama. The group trains just about every day for the Collegiate Nationals by swimming at Freer Hall, biking at IMPE, and running and lifting at CRCE.

“Right now we have members teamed up with a partner to train better for nationals,” Trimble said. “Having someone else to train with you keeps you motivated and keeps you from slacking off.”

Trimble said the club is still working on transportation to the USA Triathlon. As far as equipment, Trimble said one of the benefits club members receive is equipment and discounts on gear through sponsorships.

He said the club has received monetary donations from Provena and local photographer Brad Lapayne, and members receive discounts on shoes and gear through sporting good providers Asics and TYR.

The daylong Collegiate National event will include an Olympic distance 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run.

“It’s a whole body sport and you have to do it to understand the difficulty of it,” said Kevin Shinsako, triathlon events chairman for the club and senior in LAS. “You just have to push your body through it.”

In the past, the triathlon club has participated in the Purdue BoilerMan Triathlon and now, Shinsako said, the group is planning a triathlon of their own.

Shinsako said the triathlon is set to take place September 2008 at Clinton Lake in Clinton, Ill. The course has been mapped and the group is working with the DeWitt County Sheriff’s Department as well as road commissioners to set up the best route.

The club is working on getting shirts made for the event, setting up online registration, and getting sponsors and putting together gift bags for participants, Trimble said. The club plans on reaching out to triathletes across the Midwest.

Trimble said participating in triathlons, planning events like the triathlon at Clinton Lake and working with club members has given him leadership experience and has helped him build great friendships. As the club continues to grow, he said he wants the other members to have this same experience.

“We want this club to be a way for other people to develop their skills, not just through training or triathlons,” Trimble said. “Yeah we’re about triathlons, but we’re about building better people in the process and that’s really what we want to emulate to our members.”