Dynamic Duo

Smart, poised and super-skilled in sports, for Stuart and Claire Moty, success is all in the genes


Published: 86555, August/September, 2006



Meeting the Moty family of DC Ranch can be like stepping through a TV screen and straight into a Disney Channel movie.

Dad Patrick and mom Jane are classic high achievers with heart: a pharmaceuticals salesman and a school P.E. teacher, respectively, who believe taking family trips to their kids’ athletic events is equal in importance to advancing their own careers. Oldest daughter Bridget is beautiful, brainy and buff, a biology major on a Fullbright scholarship at the University of Arizona who is a private swim instructor during the summer.

85255 - Aug./Sept. 2006

And teenage siblings Stuart, 16, and Claire, 15, both A-students and A-level athletes, are already seasoned triathlon champs who manage to balance International Baccalaureate courses at at Desert Mountain High School with preliminary training for the Olympics in swimming, running and bicycling. They also work summer jobs as lifeguards, get fussed over by teachers and appear immune from common teenage ailments like laziness and acne.

With everything going their way, aren’t they the envy of their classmates?

“Not really!” says Claire, with a laugh. “We try to stay on the humble side. We don’t usually talk about our achievements. It’s usually other people who say, ‘Stuart and Claire did a great job at the race last weekend,’ and we’re just like, ‘Yeah, it was okay.’”

Desert Mountain science teacher Dean Johnson, a fellow triathlon competitor who admits he regularly shines the Motys’ winning racing results from the overhead projector in his IB physics class, attests the pair are genuinely liked and admired on campus.

“They’re never boastful,” says Johnson. “If someone didn’t talk to you about their racing, you wouldn’t get it from them.”


Indeed, since they began competing together in triathlons nine years ago, Claire and Stuart have excelled in a sport that is not for the faint of heart. Stuart, who recently finished second in his age group in the world-famous Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, is currently ranked 10th in the nation by the USA Triathlon Organization, while Claire trails close behind at 19th. Patrick feels winning has simply become second nature to them.

“I think if it was a novelty, maybe they’d be more eager to blow their own horns,” says Patrick. “But they’ve been doing this probably as far back as they can remember.”

Life-long athletes themselves, Patrick and Jane exposed all three of their kids to a wide variety of sports at early ages. At first, the couple had to literally drag the little ones behind them in bike carts and trick them into keeping up the pace on the mountain climbs.

“We’d tell ‘em the bears would get them if they didn’t keep moving,” laughs Jane.

But by the time Claire entered elementary school, all three were active in swimming, running and bicycling.

Bridget was the first to get into triathlon events, eventually tiring of all the cross-training and centering on water polo and swimming.

Stuart and Claire, however, latched on to the slightly geeky multi-tasking aspect of triathlons, which they say attracts a more brainy breed of athlete than, say, football or basketball.

“Usually triathletes are pretty much Type-A personalities,” says Claire, the gabbier of the two. “So you get, like, super-perfectionists who want to do well in everything they do.”


That mindset fits in perfectly with the tight ship Patrick and Jane run at home.

“Physical activity is one of our high priorities,” says Patrick, a triathlete himself who competed in last year’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. “But academics are considered just as important. We want them to be fully-rounded individuals.”

Johnson, now a family friend, has observed that the Moty kids typically come home from their afternoon bike rides to a healthy dinner followed by a direct order to hit the books.

“Mom and dad rule with an iron fist, but it’s got a velvet glove on it,” he says. “Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing a lot of things right.”

Of course, being part of such a Type-A family sometimes makes it hard for Stuart and Claire to put up with the average mortals in their classrooms.

“Whenever we have a group project,” says Claire, “we’re ready to call the other kids up at 7 on a Saturday morning, and they’ll be like, ‘Can you call back in three hours?’”

“That’s about the only thing we feel we’re missing out on,” adds Stuart, finally chipping in a word. “Sleep!”


Photos by N. Scott Trimble

image 1


All wet: (left to right) Jane, Bridget, Claire, Stuart and Patrick Moty



Think you have what it takes to become a triathlete? Take a look at   a typical day in the life of the   Moty siblings.



For the uninitiated, the triathlon is a racing event that combines contests in swimming, cycling and running – back-to-back, and in that order. Kind of like charging through a Nickelodeon Double-Dare obstacle course, only without the slime.

Begun as a way to settle a heated debate following a 1977 relay race in Oahu between swimmers, runners and cyclists as to who was the most fit, the first long-distance Iron Man Triathlon set the standards for the sport in a hand-written note passed out to each competitor: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”

Today, race distances vary depending on the event and the terrain. For instance, in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon Stuart competed in this past summer, entrants only had to swim 1.5 miles – but the waiver included some nasty text about “shark-infested” waters. Still, the bigger marathons, including the Arizona Ironman events held annually at Tempe Town Lake, pretty much adhere to that mix.

For contestants, that means a rigorous training schedule that can easily eat up every minute of free time. Stuart and Claire’s mother Jane maintains a packed calendar that keeps her kids rising at 4 a.m. every day to complete the roughly 100 miles of bicycling, 13 hours of swimming and six hours of track practice they squeeze in weekly between school and homework which, for the sibling’s I.B. and A.P. classes, can easily demand up to another three hours a night.

It’s a schedule that, for a teen, doesn’t leave much time for MySpace or the Playstation.

“Other kids will be off quoting movies and other stuff, and you have no idea what they’re talking about,” says Stuart.

That’s just fine for the overactive Moty kids, however.

“I’ll come back to the dorm,” says older sister Bridget, now attending the U of A, “after swimming in freezing water and running across campus – and your friends are still watching the same movie they were watching when you left!”

The siblings laugh. “How boring is that!”