Though the origins of triathlon go back beyond the mists of Hawaii, the origins of the Oxford University Triathlon Club lie in the not so distant mists of the year 2000.
In Michaelmas 2000 Chris Bucknall and James Carver (Jesus College) separately had the idea of getting Oxford University students involved in triathlons (an equivalent club in Cambridge was set up in 1999). After some confusion the sports department realised that two people were trying to do the same thing at the same time and helped them join forces. The club was initially known as Oxford Student Triathlon Club, to avoid confusion with the Real Tennis Club (OUTC). At some point in the 2000-01 season the name was changed to Oxford University Triathlon Club (OUTriC).
Some well placed posters and a snazzy logo soon got membership up and running and allowed the club to be offically recognised as part of the University in early 2001. Annual membership cost £5 and the first members included Canadian Murray McCutcheon (Trinity) - the clubs first offical President, Paul Petzschman (St Anthony's), Roberta Dionello (Hertford), and Paul Ganter (Magdalen).
Australian legend Tom Rickards led informal training in the pool. Tom had been competing at an international level as an age grouper since 1997, and went on to win his age group (30-34) at the first ever half iron man competition in Snowdonia 2001 and then finish 2nd at the Kona Ironman in 2002. Roberta also competed for GB as an age grouper. The rest of the group continue to do triathlons into their old(er) age, but with less impressive times!
With limited membership the club ended the year with less than £100 in the bank (and didn't even have an annual dinner!) but most importantly the club was up and running, and the long wait for Blue status could commence. James and Chris were both in their final years so they handed over to Paul Ganter and the club had its first stand at Freshers' Fair in 2001.
In the 2001-02 season Paul Ganter ran all of the club training sessions. There was one almost everyday with swimming at Temple Cowley Pool on Friday nights. On Saturday the triathletes rode together along with some people from the cycling club (OUCC). They were joined by a mix of people from the Oxford City Road Club and even the occasional pros training in Britain during the winter who Tom brought along. There was a running workshop every week because Paul's background was in athletics and tales of old say he knew a great deal about sports physiology.
There weren't any organised competitions at the time - Varsity and BUSA didn't exist. The club would choose a race and travel in Paul's big Passat with people's bikes in the back. The first ever OUTriC training camp took place in Wales in July 2002. Paul Petzschmann described the camp as follows... "Yeah, Ganter was pretty crazy. We stayed at big Tom's house at the coast near Holyhead with an open-water swim, a long ride and a run every single day which was extremely hard. On the way back I remember stopping in Caernarfon where we cycled the entire course of the first British Half-Ironman (45k) and after that we jumped into the lake with our cycling gear and swam across and back. Totally mad."