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How to Qualify for Junior Youth Triathlon National and World Championships

If you thought qualifying for adult National and World Triathlon Championships was confusing, try being under 18.

Our junior team is mostly based in California currently and junior development is very sparse both and the coaching, club and event level. On the April 14 there's the California Youth Triathlon which has no official championship status (it's just called that because it's one of the very few junior specific races put on in the State) and attracts a small, but good quality field (*update: It was canceled this year from lack of numbers). This year, on April 7 in Napa is the USA Triathlon State Championships for adults. Last year it was in Orange County. The Sprint Distance race of these championships has a Youth Category (aged 12-17) which is also the USAT High School State Championships. This race does not qualify for any other races, like Nationals, as one might expect of a State Championships. Outside of these two races there are opportunities for youth to race in kids races attached to bigger adult races or pool swim races which tend to attract younger kids. I've made a Nor Cal Calendar of those races. Many adult Sprint distance races will take on kids under 18 but minimum ages vary. So that's California.

On Sunday July 14 in Iowa is the USAT Youth and Junior National Championships for kids aged 7-18. THERE IS NO QUALIFICATION FOR THIS EVENT. You can go ahead and sign up now if you wanted. For kids aged 7-12 this is the only National Championship event and there are no World Championships for this age group to qualify for. But for kids aged 13-19 things get confusing....

On this same weekend there will be a Junior Elite Nationals Championship (for Youth (13-15) and Juniors (16-19)), a draft-legal sprint race, which will be run by a different organization. You DO have to qualify for this event. The qualifying events are below:

2 - May 5, 2024 Richmond Virginia

4 - June 15-16 Jenny Lee Tri Cup Beaver Falls Pennsylvania

There are no Junior World Championships for youths 13 or 14. There are two for kids aged 16-19. One is called the Elite Junior World Championships where only 3 girls and 3 boys are selected to represent in Malaga, Spain and the other is the 15-19 Category of the Age Group World Championships to be held in Wollongong, Australia in 2025 where there are 18 spots available. How you qualify for this is convoluted and can be found on this document here. I've take a passage from it below:

Path 1 - Youth & Junior Pathway: Eligible Junior Athletes (16-19 as of 12/31/2025)

who compete in the 2024 USAT Youth and Junior Developmental Nationals and are

within the top 50% of finishers will qualify for any remaining spots in the 2025 World

Triathlon AG Draft-Legal Sprint Triathlon World Championship. Junior Draft-Legal

athletes will have priority followed by Youth Draft-Legal athletes aging up to 16-19

AG for 2025 who are within the top 25% of finishers in that event. Any athlete

selected to the Elite Junior World Championship Team will forfeit their AG Team USA


After communicating with USAT directly I found out that this is how the slots for AG Team USA for Wollongong will be allocated:

  1. USAT Multisport Nationals Draft Legal Sprint (Omaha) – 10 slots.

  2. USAT Age Group [non-draft] Sprint Nationals (Atlantic City) – 8 slots.

  3. Youth & Junior Draft-Legal Nationals (Des Moines) – any remaining following Atlantic City as noted above.

  4. 2024 USAT National Rankings.  

From the results from last year there were only 14 male participants at the Omaha qualifying event and 21 female so this is definitely the path to go for an easier Worlds qualification.

But wait, there's more! There is a relatively new Triathlon World Championship event called the World Multisport Championships which has a Draft-Legal Super Sprint Triathlon event just announced to be held in Pontvedra Spain in June 2025. The qualifying for that event for the 15-19 AG is the Sprint Distance at the Multisport Nationals in Omaha in June with additional slots at Age Group Nationals in New Jersey in September. It's not clear if there are slots available, or how many, from performances for this at Junior Nationals in Iowa.

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