Harvard Triathletes Find Camraderie in Club Team

When Michael Silva and Samir Faza set foot in Harvard Yard in the fall of 2011, they brought with them passion for a sport the school had yet to offer—triathlon.

“I was honestly shocked that there wasn’t a [triathlon] team,” Silva said. “All the other local schools have teams—BU, BC, MIT. When I was looking at schools, I was certainly looking at which schools had triathlon teams, and Harvard didn’t have one, which was really shocking.”

To resolve this issue, the duo wasted little time in getting to work. Silva and Faza founded the Harvard Triathlon Club Team their freshman year, and the two found members of the student body who shared their interest. Currently, five members serve as co-captains of the Triathlon team—Silva, Faza, classmate Joseph Brennan, graduate student Andrés Onetto, and sophomore Caitlin Begg. They joined the team with mixed backgrounds and differing levels of prior triathlon experience, a diversity that still defines the organization.

“The past experiences of our members have are hugely varied,” Faza said. “We have people involved with our shortest race [who] can barely run a 5K, or those who struggle with any distance of open-water swimming… On the other hand, we also have competitive [Iron Man competitors]…[and] an athlete from the Navy team who was one of their fastest racers.”

Regardless of whether they have been competing in triathlons for several years or are simply trying their hand at the sport, members of the club share one common theme: a draw to the sport’s combination of three different athletic components.



“I played football through high school,” Brennan said. “I stopped playing football [after] my senior year of high school, and started doing distance running… I have always been interested in doing triathlons. I have thought that it would be more interesting to do three sports instead of one.”

Silva is one of the most experienced triathletes on the team, with several years of experience already under his belt.

“I started [triathlon] in high school,” Silva said. “[I] got more involved in it senior year. Moving into college, I really got serious about it…[Triathlon] was a perfect balance with school, and a lot of people I’ve met here have found the same thing.”

Over the past two years, the team has grown from its two co-founders to a roster that boasts over 100 members. Roughly a dozen athletes regularly participate in competitions.

“Soon after we founded the team, we got Joseph, Andreas, and Caitlin,” Faza said. “The five of us are the co-captains. Last year we had our first race in May—we had 15 people come out, and it was really amazing to see the response that we got. We recently broke 100 [members] on our e-mail list, which is very exciting.”


“Having 15 people on our first race was no small feat,” Silva said. “There are very established teams that bring fewer, and we were one of the two biggest teams there. We fielded more racers than BU, which competed at Nationals last year. Such turnouts bode well for our team’s future.”

The team finds support not only from its own athletes but also from the collegiate triathlon community as well.

While the triathlon is not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, USA Triathlon—the national governing body for the sport—has a collegiate division comprised of several regional conferences. Harvard is a member of the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference.


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