D.C.

-based program prepares youth to become triathletes
By Cory Francer, USA TODAY WASHINGTON — Mayor Adrian Fenty is doing his part to help bring the sport of triathlon to the city's youth.

Cool out: Chris Hohn helps children swim in the Achieve Kids Triathlon camp in Washington.

Fenty, 38, completed an agegroup triathlon Sunday in 2 hours, 17 minutes, 54 seconds, finishing 16th in the elite male category. Age-group triathlons were held in conjunction with the ITU World Championship Series, which drew 130 elite male and female triathletes competing at the Olympic distance — 1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike and 10K run. Britain's Alistair Brownlee won the ITU men's elite triathlon in 1:48.58. Americans Andy Potts and Hunter Kemper were fourth and fifth, respectively. In the women's race, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Emma Moffatt of Australia won in 1:59.55. She beat Emma Snowsill, the 2008 Olympic champion, by 25 seconds. Fenty kicked off the race weekend Friday with an official mayoral proclamation for the city's Olympic Day. Fenty, Kemper and other Olympic triathletes cheered on determined elementary school students at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center as they trained for their first triathlon at the end of July. The students are part of Achieve Kids Triathlon, a summer camp that teaches them to run, bike and swim. Achieve Kids Tri is a Washington-based non-profit that also has a program in Houston and has plans to expand to other cities.

For six weeks, about 75 campers receive instruction daily from professionally trained coaches and equipment free of charge. At the end of camp, they complete a triathlon that includes a 100-meter swim, 5K bike ride and 3K run. Fenty said getting children involved in triathlon is a major accomplishment for the city and for the kids. "These young people are being trained to do their own triathlon and will do one by the end of the summer," he said. "How great of an accomplishment is that? To go back to school and say, 'I'm a triathlete. I competed in my first triathlon this summer.' I guarantee many of them will keep doing it when they're adults." Adulthood is when most triathletes take up the sport. Because of the equipment, the space needed to train and time commitment, triathletes generally have a high level of disposable income. Adults ages 30-49 accounted for about half of USA Triathlon's 107,000 members last year. However, the Achieve camps are bringing triathlons to children who might not otherwise be exposed to the sport. "Youth programs in triathlon are very sparse, so getting kids involved is huge," said Megan Nechanicky, the head coach at the Turkey Thicket camp. "It's a very unique experience to get children involved that would most likely not be able to afford an expensive sport." Achieve campers are enthusiastic about their training. And with their enthusiasm, the interest of their parents increases as well. Anthony Bolling of Washington and his 10year-old daughter, Eliza, an Achieve camper, watch as many Ironman competitions on television as they can. "This is exactly where we want to be as a country, indoctrinating our children into athletics," Bolling said. "I've seen a tremendous amount of growth in her confidence and self-esteem." Fenty said the camps help children get fit while pushing themselves to succeed. "We're exposing young people to new things. That's what this job is all about, and that's what this city's all about."

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful