Fifteen-year-old Wentzville, Missouri, resident Makenna Seghers isn’t just passionate about triathlon, she’s passionate about getting other kids to participate, too. The Holt High School sophomore started competing around age 7 and has high hopes for the future of the sport.
Which came first for you: swimming, biking or running?
I was in swim lessons at age 7 and began running at about the same time. I think my passion for running started when the school I was in had a 5k. I had no clue how far that was, but I wanted to do it. I signed up and fell in love with running. I also found biking extremely fun and would ride circles in our court all the time.
Tell us about your progression in triathlon. Any favorite memories?
I joined a team in fourth grade called Z3, based out of Iowa. I’ve got to travel the country with it as I’ve gotten older. There are a lot of memories that all mean different things to me. Some of my favorites are the ones just spent hanging out with my teammates. Last year, I qualified for my first youth elite nationals, which was a goal I’d had for a while, so that’s one of my most memorable achievements.
What is it about triathlon that you love?
I love triathlon. Not just the sport but the people and community that come with it. You meet some of the best, most supportive people though triathlon. I also love the traveling. You don’t have to travel to do triathlon, but it’s definitely something really fun. My favorite part of a triathlon is the bike and feeling the wind on my face.
How do you train and go to school and save time to just be a teenager?
Balancing school, sports and social life is quite the trick. School is always number one, even if it means I have to opt out of a practice to get a project finished. I’ve also found that you have to learn to communicate. I travel a lot, so I have to be able to go up and get things figured out for school and sometimes talk my way into more time for assignments. The social part is both easy and hard. Many of my closest friends are also athletes, so they understand that I’m usually very busy. They also know when I can hang out. It’s something that has taken time to learn to balance, but once you find what works best and how to make it work for you, it all falls into place.
Where do you hope the sport of triathlon will take you?
Well, they just started an NCAA program for women in the sport. So, I am hoping I can go to college on a triathlon scholarship.
What is #1000kidstotri and why do you use it?
#1000kidstotri is a hashtag started by the U23 triathlon podcast in hopes to grow the sport. I’m working alongside 28 young adults and teens to try to get more youth into triathlon. My biggest hope is for kids to be introduced to a sport they might not have known about before now. Parents and kids can learn more by emailing email@example.com.
What advice would you give kids who are interested in trying triathlon?
My biggest piece of advice for kids that are interested is to just give it a shot. You can always try something and find out if you like it or not, but if you never try, you’ll never know. Triathlon is so wonderful because no matter who you are, you can do it. The sport works for all body types and all different levels of athleticism.
Also, don’t let any of the fancy equipment scare or intimidate you. We all started off not knowing anything. If you have questions, always ask never and hold back. Someone will be able to help you. And always wear your helmet, even if you’re just touching your bike. Get in the habit while you’re young.
Author: Brad Kovach is the editor/publisher of Terrain Magazine.