Children are training to swim 25 yards and then jump on a bike and ride more than a mile at Franklin Community High School. Finally, they will head to the track and run a half-mile.
The Boys and Girls Club of Franklin will stage its second Kids Triathlon on May 31, an event where kids can get a taste of an Ironman competition by taking summer activities of biking and swimming to a new level.
Organizers say the event is more than a fundraiser for the club. It’s a way to get children active, which is a mission of the club.
“This is something that we can do that is also fitness related,” executive director Teresa McClure said. “(Children) will get the sense of competition without going overboard.”
She said organizers wanted to find a fundraiser that would fit two of the club’s biggest missions, serving kids and promoting fitness.
“We keep active here at the club. We push fitness,” McClure said. “This is an event that aligns with that.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Franklin is a nonprofit agency that provides programming and summer and after-school care to children in Franklin. The organization is partially supported by the United Way of Johnson County.
Boys and Girls Club employees started the triathlon last summer. They wanted to create an event that would include children and bring in money to help pay for programs and scholarships.
For years, a go-kart race in downtown Franklin was the summer fundraiser, but children couldn’t get actively involved in that, McClure said.
Kid-centric triathlons were popular in South Bend, where McClure worked for the parks and recreation department. She thought a triathlon could work in Franklin.
About 70 students swam, biked and ran last year, raising about $3,500 in registration fees and sponsorships.
“It was just so well-received,” McClure said.
She would like to double the number of participants this year. The registration deadline is May 16.
One of the biggest draws of the triathlon is allowing students to get slightly competitive, she said. But at the same time, she said, students cheered each other on and had fun with the event.
Shawn Grider, a second-grader at Needham Elementary School, participated last year. The youngster said the chance to play with his friends was one of the best parts.
“You get to race other people. You get to have people watch you,” he said. “I wanted to do a big race.”
While the triathlon distance doesn’t compare to adult races, kids should still train, McClure said. Parents registering their children for the triathlon should get them moving by biking, running and swimming now, she said.
“Just practice with them, running and swimming,” McClure said.
Children must be able to ride a bike without training wheels.
While some children will see it as competitive, every child will be cheered and rewarded, McClure said. Plus, she added, they will get some exercise that some youngsters don’t get a on a regular basis.
“Kids are so used to being sedentary now,” she said. “The days of going outside and playing ‘kick the can’ are over.”