Pro Triathletes Make Multisport a Family Affair

Sarah Haskins (at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) enjoys mentoring her parents in triathlon.<br><strong> AP Photo/Bob Bukaty</strong>

Hattit Potts finished five triathlons in 2010, winning her age group four times and finishing second in the other event. Perhaps that's not surprising given that she's the mother of prominent pro triathlete and 2004 Olympian Andy Potts.

But Hattit Potts, who turned 60 in November, is no veteran triathlete. She took up the sport only three years ago, part of a recent trend of pro triathlete family members entering multisport.

Other pro sports can boast of second-generation stars such as NFL quarterback Peyton Manning or baseball player Ken Griffey, Jr. That's not the case with triathlon, which has a history that spans barely three decades.

On the other hand, triathlon is perhaps the only sport where pros and weekend-warrior age-groupers can compete in the same events, albeit in different waves and start times.

Ten of Andy Potts' relatives have competed in the sport, including both parents, his brother and sister, an uncle and aunt and a couple of cousins. One cousin, Jack Basile, is a doctor and Ironman Louisville finisher who occasionally works the medical tent at Ironman events when he's not racing. A large Potts contingent competed in the Timberman Ironman 70.3 in New Hampshire in August.

After Andy, 34, raced at the Ironman world championship in Kona in October, the family celebrated Hattit's 60th birthday early with an oddball "Hat's Off Triathlon," a play on Hattit's name, which is a nickname for Harriet. The event consisted of swimming with a tennis ball, jogging with baby strollers for the bike course and a dizzy-bat race for the run.

"It's been a lot of fun to enjoy the sport as a family," Andy says. "We'll often meet up in transition and help each other out with lube or rubber bands. Of course, my rack is usually a little easier to find than theirs."

It's tough to miss Team Potts. Andy gives his uncle, David, some of his old tri race suits, complete with "Potts" on the rear end. "I'm the slow Potts," David Potts tells people. Andy got his mom a bike and the entire clan has TYR swim gear.

"We have no excuses," Hattit says. "He outfits us literally head to toe between TYR swimsuits and paddles, goggles, bike helmets and shoes. But he also provides a lot of support. If he's not at the race himself, he'll call right after. He's our No.1 fan."

Because of Andy Potts' strong swim background—he was a standout swimmer at the University of Michigan—people naturally assume he's from a family of swimmers. Actually, most of the Potts triathletes are typical tri newcomers with little swim background.

"I'm a hopeless swimmer," Hattit says, laughing. "Andy will get in the water and help me with my stroke, but inevitably he'll shake his head and say, 'Don't tell anyone you're my mother.'"

Like Andy Potts, 2008 Olympian Sarah Haskins has enjoyed mentoring her parents into triathlon. Brian Haskins, 54, was looking to get in shape early in 2010 and completed a half-marathon. After Sarah suggested a sprint triathlon would be less taxing on his joints, he completed the Ballwin Triathlon near St. Louis at the end of July.

Becky Haskins, 52, joined her husband to make her multisport debut at a triathlon in Edwardsville, Illinois, in September. Sarah's dad is considering attempting an Olympic-distance event in 2011.

Since Becky and Sarah, 29, are about the same size, Becky has a pro triathlete caliber wardrobe. Dad has to settle for customized workouts.

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