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There is nothing leisurely about a 0.9-mile swim, followed by a 24.8-mile bike ride, capped with a 6.2-mile run. But, since 2003, that's all in a day's work for UCF's triathlon club, Tri-Knights.

The club is coached by John Hovius, who trains Olympians Mario Mola, the No. 2-ranked competitor in the World Triathlon Series; Richard Murray, No. 4 in the series; and Sarah True, the No. 2 ranked woman in the International Triathlon Union.

"[He's] super good to us. He will come out when he's needed," former club president Peter Clauter said.

He originally took the gig with pay, but now teaches Knights what he has learned through 25 years in the sport for free. The coaching and hard work seem to be paying off.

A group of Tri-Knights sought to qualify for the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships. However, only Josh Servi, Kelly Byers and Clauter finished in the top 30, making the cut to represent the United States in the competition.

Clauter, a fall 2014 graduate, and his two teammates will stay in Chicago from Sept. 15 through Sept. 19 for the Olympic-distance race that hosts 8,000 of world's top triathletes in seven different divisions.

"I have a sense of patriotism, [so] I'm super excited to represent team USA — super stoked," Clauter said. "It feels like I can have my cake and eat it, too."

Clauter, who earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, joined Tri-Knights during his freshman year but thought the team lacked an oriented feel, so he decided to make a change. He became president the following year and focused on changing the team's culture by building a positive atmosphere for club members.

"It was the best decision I ever made. This was my group of friends all through my time at UCF," he said. "They took me in with open arms. I miss it now. I always miss those guys."

The Knights have worked hard to get to the level of competition they are at. The team's training regimen usually consists of running on Mondays, swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays, biking on Wednesdays and long rides or runs on the weekends.

"[Tri-Knights] makes working out fun," said Alison Mantel, a second-year Ph.D. major in physical therapy. "They are good friends who I can count on."

The club enters seven different races, competing in Olympic and sprint distances. Sprints consist of 400 to 500 yards in the water, followed by 12 to 15 miles on the bike and a 3.1-mile run to finish the event.

During the past five years, the club has also entered the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships — a highlight for many of the members.

With about nine members in the club and a few graduating, Hovius is seeking to boost numbers with no fee to join and emphasizing fun over everything.

"Speed and winning is the way it should be, but we're always looking for new members," Hovius said. "[We] want newbies to get into it or those who want to have fun."

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Johnathan Kuntz is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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