Photos: World Triathlon

By Kent Gray/

A scare during the swim hasn’t stopped Dylan McCullough from adding a new World Triathlon Championship Series best to his increasingly compelling push for Paris.

The Cambridge-based Aucklander was 14th at WTCS Montreal early Sunday, eclipsing his previous best of 26th in Yokohama last month despite losing feeling in his arms during the 750m swim off Alexander Basin.

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McCullough has been battling a virus and it manifested itself in the Quebec water.

“I had a great swim start and was out the front but unfortunately went a bit hypoxic and lost feeling in my arms, which meant the swim then turned into survival mode,” McCullough told

“I was pretty worried during the swim that my day was over just after it started.

“I’ve been battling a bit of a virus in Spain for the last couple of weeks with quite bad tiredness and carried a bit of that into the race today. So, that could’ve also been why my swim didn’t go the way I hoped it would.”

McCullough exited the water 31st, 21 seconds behind Aussie Matt Hauser who would go on to claim his maiden WTCS gold. It meant the 22-year-old Kiwi had to dig deep during the 20km bike to haul himself back onto the lead pack of 18 which had included Tayler Reid before the Gisborne lad crashed. Reid eventually battled back to 20th with Kyle Smith 46th.

“After jumping on the bike, I knew straight away I had good legs, the complete opposite feeling I had during the swim. So I did everything I could to pull our group back to the front in very slippery conditions, and used those good legs to put together a decent run performance,” McCullough said.

The Montreal result is the highlight of a season going swimmingly for McCullough with 4th and 6th places at Oceania Cups in Wanaka and Taupo respectively, U23 Oceania Sprint Championship gold (and 5th overall) in Devonport, 4th at World Cup New Plymouth and Oceania U23 Standard Distance bronze (and 4th overall) in Port Douglas.

It has seen his WTCS ranking jump to 18 and will likely see his World Triathlon ranking improve from 53rd, encouraging as he chases a start at the Paris Olympic Test event in August.

Interestingly, McCullough was just 19 seconds from a top 8 performance which he may well have achieved but for his unforeseen issue in the swim where is among the world’s best. A pair of top 8s at WTCS level, or a first Kiwi on the podium result at the test event, will take care of a nomination to the NZOC for next year’s Paris Olympic Games. Not that McCullough is getting ahead of himself.

“I’m really happy with 14th in a WTCS race, my best ever result at this level,” McCullough continued.  

“This year is all about consistency in each race for me, and so far it’s going well. I’m looking forward to the rest of 2023 and hopefully continue building each race with the help of my coach John [Hellemans].”

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