A Career for Triathletes

Have you ever wondered if being a triathlete could land you a career? Spoiler alert: it can, in the United States Military. And these careers are pretty cool. Ladies, you listen up too! Just because it’s the military doesn’t mean that you’re ineligible. With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement on Thursday that most combat positions will be reviewed to see if they can be accessed with gender-neutral standards, you could find yourself turning your swim-bike-run training into something bigger as well in the next few years.

A US Air Force recruiter stopped me at school a few weeks ago and asked if I had ever considered joining the Special Forces. Of course, I was confused about why on earth I caught his eye, so I asked the man why he picked me. He pointed to the triathlon logo on my jacket.

A US Special Forces Soldier tests an ATB. Photo Credit: Hans Halberstadt via combatreform.org

A US Special Forces Soldier tests an ATB. Photo Credit: Hans Halberstadt via combatreform.org

“We’re looking for physically qualified people to join the Special Forces – and the fact that you’re a triathlete means that there’s a good chance that you’re more than qualified for the job,” he told me. And after further research into the different branches, I realized that the minimum physical requirements for some of the most widely-recognized “impossible” jobs in the Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Air Force Special Tactics could be attained by many triathletes just from their current training. Apart from becoming an Olympic triathlete, could you think of a better way to take your training and use it for your country?

There are plenty more requirements than just the physical ones, but there’s no harm in checking any of them out to see if turning your triathlon training into something else within the Military could be the right thing for you.

Here are links to the physical requirements for the above mentioned branches:

Army Green Beret: http://www.goarmy.com/special-forces/qualifications-and-benefits.html

Navy SEALs: http://www.sealswcc.com/navy-seals-enlisted-general-requirements.aspx#

Air Force Special Tactics: http://www.afsoc.af.mil/specialtactics/

That being said, if you’re considering joining the military, you may want to look into one of the US Service Academies or ROTC first. The Academies are some of the best educational institutions in this country, and get this: most of them have a triathlon team! And ROTC allows you to go to a “regular” college while training to graduate with a degree and a commission as an officer. Becoming an officer through an Academy/ROTC program and enlisting are very different concepts. Visit here to find out more about the differences between the two. Below are links to the Service Academy Admissions pages:

US Military Academy at West Point, NY: http://www.usma.edu/admissions/SitePages/Home.aspx

US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD: http://www.usna.edu/Admissions/

US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO (home of the US Olympic Team Training Center and USA Triathlon): http://www.academyadmissions.com/

US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT: http://www.cga.edu/admissions/

US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY: http://www.usmma.edu/admissions/default.html

And here are links to more info on ROTC:

Army ROTC: http://www.goarmy.com/rotc.html

Naval ROTC: http://www.nrotc.navy.mil/

Air Force ROTC: http://www.afrotc.com/

Take a look and see if it’s something that you could be interested in. If you love the sport of triathlon and love your country, there are few jobs that would allow you to tie the two together. If you’re a stronger bicyclist, you may have to spend more time on the swim and the run – but you’re still already more prepared for Special Forces than the average Joe Shmoe.

Go Team ‘Murica!

Note: Always check with your parents before signing any paperwork!

-Alex Werden, YoungTri Execuitive Board Member

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