ASU student triathlete wants to build wins — and machines

Accomplished triathlete and budding engineer has sights set on excellence


ASU student Rebecca Naughton
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Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2017 incoming ASU students.

Arizona State University’s women’s triathlon team started off their inaugural season a year ago by winning a national championship.

One of their newest members looks slated to follow that performance by winning right out of the gate, both in the classroom and on the field.

Freshman triathlete Rebecca Naughton, 18, has been racing competitively for six years.

“It’s a different kind of challenge,” she said.

Cycling is her strongest event. Her weakest? Swimming.

“I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the pool,” she said.

Naughton was a letter winner in swimming, cross country and track in high school in Des Moines, Iowa. Coming into college, she had won two duathlon national championships, was named 2014 Duathlete of the Year and was a three-time member of Team USA at both world triathlon and duathlon championships. Outside of athletics, Naughton was a member of the National Honor Society and was on the Presidential Honor Roll every semester.

At ASU she is majoring in mechanical engineering. When told about everything engineering students have the opportunity to build at ASU (spacecraft, race cars off-road buggies, hyperloop) and asked what she would like to build, Naughton said, “I would have to go with a plane, a rocket or a bike.”

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: The combination of the tri team, the engineering college, the honors college and the warmth.

Q: What drew you to your major?

A: I took engineering classes in high school, so I love them. That’s what I want to continue to do. Mechanical is a little bit of everything, so I didn’t have to choose. I have a broad range of new opportunities.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: All the classes. I know they’re going to be hard, but I want to see how hard. Meeting everyone. Being on my own time, on my own schedule.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: In the winter I’ll brag it’s warm. The honors college is beautiful; the food, the campus, everything. I like to brag I live in the nicest dorm with the nicest dining hall. I also get to get away from home a little bit.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I hope I bring a love of learning and teamwork, because engineering is very team-focused and team-oriented, so I want to be someone who is a leader, but also someone who learns new things from other people.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show right now?

A: I don’t really have a TV show; I have a lot of practice. I’m more of a movie person. All the new ones that are out: "Spider-Man," "Baby Driver"; I’m trying to watch the new Netflix movies.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I’d love to get a degree and meet a lot of new people and start branching out. Also, keep up the national championship for the triathlon team. They're a great group of girls, and I really want to work hard and be up there with them.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: I went to Brazil last spring break. It was fantastic.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: Education. I think everyone should have a chance to go to a college like this or even find out different things they love to learn. Everyone loves to learn, but they don’t always have the opportunity.

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

A: I’m going to go for 24 to 13.

Top photo: Freshman Rebecca Naughton chose to come to Tempe from Des Moines because ASU offers Barrett, the Honors College, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the NCAA Championship women's triathlon team and warm weather. The mechanical engineering freshman is already doing two-a-day training with the triathlon team. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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