Nation's Triathlon launches partnership with Potomac Conservancy

Fighting for a Potomac that's clean enough to swim in on race day and every day

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One day a year, the Potomac River becomes a raceway for over a thousand athletes during the Nation’s Triathlon. This race, now in its 12th year, shows off the iconic landscape of Washington, DC, as up to 3,500 athletes bike, run and swim in one of America’s most challenging races. 

It takes training, guts and determination to complete a triathlon.

It also takes a Potomac River clean enough to allow swimmers in the water.

In 2017, a new clean water partnership is taking shape. In support for the growing local movement for clean water, the Nation’s Triathlon is joining forces with Potomac Conservancy. The partnership connects triathletes and their families to the fight for a cleaner, healthier Potomac River.

The Nation’s Triathlon brings 3,500 racers to Washington DC. The Olympic Distance triathlon includes a 1.5k meter swim in the Potomac River, 40k bike and a 10k run through Washington, DC’s landmarks. But persistent pollution has foiled the swim in two of the past three years. In 2014 and again in 2016, the swim had to be cancelled. In both cases, bacterial pollution in the water was the culprit.

In fact, in the days leading up to last year’s race, pollution readings near the Tidal Basin were 73 percent above the EPA’s recommended levels for recreational activity in water.

We want the river to be clean enough to swim in every day, including race day! Thanks to a new partnership with the Nation’s Triathlon and Tyr, we’re one step closer to this achieving this mission.

The good news is the Potomac is getting cleaner! Potomac Conservancy does a science-based assessment of the river’s condition every two years. The latest Potomac River Report Card gave the Potomac a B- in health, a significant improvement when you consider that ten years ago, it was given a D-.

The water is getting cleaner, with lower levels of chemical and agricultural pollution. The fish populations are also returning. You can read about the science behind this monitoring at But one form of pollution continues to rise – that’s the pollution washed into our rivers and streams with every big storm, including bacteria from occasional sewer overflows. This stormwater pollution is something Potomac Conservancy’s staff along with our friends and supporters are addressing. Advocating for more river-friendly development, installation of stormwater management features like rain gardens and bio-swales and restoration of our riverbanks are particularly important strategies. We know that local action to control pollution makes a huge difference downstream.

Everyone, athletes and those of us who cheer them on, can do something to ensure cleaner water in the Potomac by joining Potomac Conservancy’s work against pollution.

A special discount registration code is available on Potomac Conservancy’s event page. Triathletes who use this special partnership code receive 20% off their registration fee. A special triathlete membership contribution can be made as a part of the Nations Triathlon registration. And families and friends can make a special Triathlon-donation of $25 at our secure website.

So, whether you plan to run, bike and swim on September 10, or support those who do, Potomac Conservancy invites everyone to join the fight for a cleaner, healthier Potomac River. 


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