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Version control: Original 1990 / Updated 1999 / Updated 2003 / Updated 2015/ Updated 2019



You must refer to the Requirements for All Sport and Physical Activity (PDF 466KB) to understand your overall compliance responsibilities.

Organisation requirements for a triathlon are clearly set out in Standards for the Conduct of Triathlons by the Multiple Endurance Events Committee and may be obtained from the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation.

Multi-discipline sports are increasing in popularity and offer a variety of training and cross-training opportunities which are ideal for secondary students, provided that sensible guidelines and principles are followed.

Parents or caregivers must be informed of full details of the location, supervision to be provided, activities to be undertaken, degree of difficulty, the contact system, cost and intended departure and return times before their written permission is obtained.

The permission note must contain a clause authorising medical aid if it is considered necessary by the supervising teacher. The note should also include a section where the parent advises the school of any illness or medical condition that the student suffers from, or any medication the student is currently taking (including asthma sprays, etc).

Parents or caregivers must indicate on the permission note that the student is capable of swimming, cycling and running the required distances.

Depending on the event, students are to enter as either individuals competing in each of the three legs of the course, OR as a member of a team competing in one or more legs of the course.

Students are to be instructed to use adequate sun protection, e.g. an SPF50+, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen reapplied regularly and a hat where appropriate.

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The teacher-in-charge or the organiser must be experienced in the conduct and organisation of triathlons.

A teacher must be present who has recognised current training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and emergency care.

The number of students competing and the available support must be considered when setting out the course and ensuring that there are sufficient teachers and marshals to monitor each leg of the event. A staff:student ratio of 1:12 should be used as a guide.

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Dress should be appropriate for each leg of the triathlon, e.g. costume for swim, comfortable clothes for run and cycle legs.

  • A wetsuit is recommended for the swim section in cold water.
  • A bright coloured swim cap must be worn by each swimming competitor.
  • Closed footwear must be worn for both the run and cycle sections.


  • There must be rescue or safety craft on the swim course while swimmers are in the water. A lead board/boat should ensure that swimmers follow the correct course. Additional boards/craft should be provided to ensure the safety of competitors for the entire swim course. This will ensure that the slower competitors are monitored and accounted for out of the water. In protected water swims, a rescue board to swimmer will have a ratio of 1:12.
  • Different brightly coloured marker buoys should be used at appropriate intervals along the course, at turns and to indicate hazards.
  • Sufficient water borne rescue or safety craft are required to adequately monitor competitors.


  • A hard shell helmet of Standards Australia approved design must be worn by all cyclists. Helmets should be securely fastened before unracking cycles and must remain fastened until competitors have racked their cycles at the completion of the cycle leg.
  • Cycles are to have a high standard of maintenance, especially gears, brakes and tyres.
  • Road markers and witches hats will be required along the course, as well as direction markers.
  • Warning signs “CYCLE RACE IN PROGRESS” must be displayed at strategic points.
  • Appropriate footwear must be worn.


  • Road markers and witches hats will be required along the course, as well as direction markers.

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Where necessary, approval for the venue and course must be gained from the various local authorities, e.g. police, local council, Waterways Authority.


  • The course should be designed to cater for the age and development of the students involved.
  • The swim course should be held in enclosed protected waters, with minimum currents, subject to slow tidal flow, and if possible protected from the wind.
  • The entry and departure points for the swim should be sufficiently wide to avoid congestion and clearly marked. The swim start shall be in at least waist deep water and shall not involve a running start. Swim entry and exit points must be inspected for depth, cleanliness and debris where protected water swims are used.
  • The course must be designed so that emergency procedures can be carried out from all sides of the course.
  • A triangular course is desirable - ‘out and back’ courses must be avoided.
  • The course must be defined by brightly coloured buoys.
  • Any hazards must be removed where possible or clearly identified.


  • The transition area must be selected with consideration of the following:
  • crossings at the entry and exit points and in the bike compound must be avoided.
  • bike compound should be:
    • located immediately adjacent to a hard surface roadway.
    • large enough to provide three (3) to five (5) metres between bike racks (if used) to permit multiple side by side bicycle mounting and dismounting.
  • where bike racks are provided, a range of race numbers should be assigned to each rack with specific spaces for each student.
  • The transition areas must be large enough to take cycles, competitors and handlers (if used) and have clearly defined entrances and exits.
  • The cycle course must be selected with consideration of the following:
    • course must be a wide, hard surfaced roadway with exclusive use if possible. Every effort should be made to conduct the cycle course on a “car free” road. The police and local council may assist in this regard.
  • head to head confrontations and the number of laps must be minimised.
  • normal vehicular traffic patterns must be followed so as to allow cyclists to ride with traffic.
  • The road chosen should allow for ease of passing competitors by other competitors and other road users.
  • Railroad tracks, bridges with grates and drawbridges must be avoided.
  • Sharp turns and right hand turns across traffic must be minimised.
  • Quick succession of turns in opposing directions must be minimised.
  • Stop signs and traffic lights must be avoided.
  • Marshals must be positioned at intersections.


  • The run course must be selected with consideration of the following:
    • grass or dirt running surfaces are preferred.
    • courses are reasonably flat, have a smooth surface which provides firm footing.
    • the crossing or overlapping of a bike leg must be avoided.

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Triathlons need to be well planned. Students must be briefed in regard to safety issues. The group leaders should carry a card detailing procedures to follow in emergencies and contact numbers. All party members should know how to put these procedures into effect.

The NSW Triathlon Association recommends that the maximum distance for each leg of the course should not exceed:

  • Under 20 years of age - Swim 750m, Cycle 20km, Run 5km.
  • Under 16 years of age - Swim 600m, Cycle 16km, Run 4km.
  • Under 14 years of age - Swim 450m, Cycle 12km, Run 3km.

Children under 13 years of age are not encouraged to be seriously involved in the multi-discipline event of triathlon. Suitable lead up activities of splash and dash type fun activities can still be attractive for young athletes.

Teams Events: as per age distances.

The time for completion of events should not exceed 1.5 hours.

A medical director (qualified doctor) should be appointed to coordinate all aspects of medical treatment. There must be sufficient personnel qualified in first aid stationed along the course as well as monitors who can recognise hypothermia in swimmers, distress, hyperthermia and dehydration in runners and cyclists. It is recommended that three officials qualified in first aid be appointed for every 100 competitors.

Competitors are to be fully briefed on the rules, safety regulations and the course. If possible, the students should be shown over the course prior to the event.

All competitors must be tested (at a time prior to the event) to ensure they can swim the required distance.

The rescue or safety craft used in the swimming leg must be operated by, or carry, personnel qualified in life-saving procedures.

Cyclists and runners must be instructed to strictly obey traffic regulations.

A medical vehicle should be available and have access to both the run and cycle course at all times.

There should be lead and trail vehicles provided for both the cycle and run.

There should be two-way communication provided for the race director/marshals/medical control, medical vehicles and lead and trail vehicles. A mobile phone to be used in emergency situations is desirable but organisers of the event should allow for the fact that they may not operate in all locales.

There should be drink and aid stations provided along both the cycle and run course. The maximum distance between drink and aid stations should not exceed 2km on the run course and 5km on the cycle course. Students should be encouraged to consume fluids prior to, during and on completion of the event.

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Special Feature

Teachers must abide by the guidelines for cycling-on-road and swimming which are detailed in this manual.

Teachers planning triathlon events need to be familiar with the procedures detailed in the Excursions Policy.

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