Balancing medical school and triathlon training may not be the easiest thing in the world, but that's not stopping Dan Jones.
Jones, a fourth-year Columbia medical student, will compete at the Collegiate National Championship in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend after placing second overall in the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference. The event features the nation's top male and female collegiate traithletes, and is put on by USA Triathlon, the sport's national governing body. Jones will compete in the men's olympic distance race, which consists of 1.5 kilometers of swimming, 40 kilometers of biking, and 10 kilometers of running.
A varsity swimmer at Harvard as an undergraduate, Jones will be competing against another former Crimson swimmer in Arizona—his twin brother, William. William Jones, currently a graduate student at University of California, San Diego, has competed in this particular race before. But this will be Dan Jones' first time.
"My personal goal is to try to stay with him in swim and then try to kind of hang with him on the bike," Dan Jones said. "He's going to blow me away on the run—I know that—so I've been working on each discipline with him in mind. He's got a few years of training on me."
Jones was invited to nationals after coming in second in Columbia's conference last year, finishing behind a sponsored, professional athlete.
Columbia competes in five or six races in the fall. The winner of each race gets a score of 150 points, and each successive finish is worth two fewer points. Each athlete's three best scores are used in determining standings within the conference. The conference then sends the top seven male individuals and male teams and top six female individuals and female teams to nationals.
Jones sporadically competed with Columbia's triathlon team when he started medical school. But it was only recently that he found a way to balance the demands of triathlon training with his schoolwork, partly by enrolling in physical education electives at Columbia to help him train.
Jones, who completed an Ironman triathlon last summer, also uses weekly practices with Columbia's team as part of his training regimen.
"It's incredibly helpful being with other people," Jones said. "I'm somebody that feeds off getting pushed and somebody being faster than me, so it's something that definitely motivates you. It's something that keeps you in check, so you're not cutting your workout short."
Taylor Fogg, CC '17, and Ada Rubin, BC '12—who placed third and sixth, respectively, among women—also qualified for nationals, but will not be making the trip to Arizona. As a whole, the Columbia women's team took fourth place behind United States Coast Guard, Army, and Boston University. The men's team placed 13th in the conference, above both Harvard and Yale. Columbia finished seventh overall, making it the highest-ranked Ivy League team.
The team, made up of an electric crew of undergraduates, faculty members, graduate students, and alumni and run by an executive board comprised of students from all four undergraduate schools, welcomes people with any triathlon experience to the team.
"My mission as the president is to foster participation in triathlon from everybody—faculty, staff, graduate students," Ben Childs, GS '15, said. "But it's great to have also, in Taylor and Dan, these super-competitive, super-high-end athletes who are winning races—and [faculty member] Darbi [Roberts] as well."
While Jones is competing this weekend, the rest of the triathlon team will next be in action May 4 when it competes in the Bassman Triathlon in Tuckerton, N.J.