It was a very exhausting day. All that running, biking and swimming really wore me out; I can only imagine how the kids felt actually running, biking and swimming while I watched.
Early Saturday morning, kids lined the edge of the pool at The Ponds Farmhouse waiting for the 2009 Summerville YMCA Youth Triathlon to start. The horn sounded and the first kid jumped in and started swimming his laps. Every ten seconds after that for about an hour, contestants were jumping into a pool and swimming laps before climbing on a bike and finally running for the finish line.
The day started early as competitors and their parents arrived before 7 a.m. to set up bikes and clothing in a transition area. Each child received an ankle bracelet to track their time and a number that was written on their arms and legs to help identify them.
After all the competitors checked in and were ready, everyone headed for the pool for the start of the race. A sea of green and orange swim caps surrounded the pool as kids ages 7-14 listened to instructions. The younger age groups would swim two laps, bike 2.5 miles and run another half mile while the kids 11 and over would swim four laps, bike five miles and run one mile.
Soon the horn sounded and the first splash of a swimmer was drowned out by the cheers of the parents watching. The older, faster group hit the pool first swimming back and forth. Every ten seconds the horn went off and another swimmer hit the water.
Soon the pool was filled with yellow caps as swimmers jumped from lane to lane. Some obviously were on swim teams as they made perfect turns under water between each lap. Others paddled along at a slower pace and some stopped at intervals to rest before taking off down the lane again.
As the older kids hit the water, the younger ones watched from the side. Like a little league outfielder picking flowers, many paid little attention to the pool. Some played and laughed while others dazed off into the distance, probably tired from waking so early.
Outside of the pool, parents and siblings cheered as each swimmer jumped into the pool. Some held signs, while others took pictures and encouraged their little swimmers.
In the transition area, bikes sat next to towels and shoes waiting for the next leg of the race. Some brought fancy road race bikes while most brought their BMX bikes. Many of the girls' bikes came race ready with baskets and tassels.
Kids ran to their stuff and dressed before putting on their helmets and pushing the bikes to the starting line of the bike path.
While many kids still lined the pool waiting to start, others were dropping off their bikes and heading for the running path. Many had completed the race by the time the last boy jumped into the pool.
The transition area turned into a busy intersection of kids picking up bikes and dropping off bikes as they completed each leg of the race. Race coordinators helped direct the kids in the right direction and even tie a shoe or two for those who didn't know how.
By the middle of the race swimmers, bikers and runners were in every direction.
It was fun to watch as kids of all ages and levels moved through the course. If they were worried about winning, no one showed it as they competed at their own pace.
As each child passed the finish line, a medal was placed around his or her neck to signify their accomplishment in finishing the race.
Parents waited at the finish line giving high fives and congratulating their children as they finished the race. The line for the swimming pool soon became the line for the shaved ice after the race as each contestant got a free treat. Later those same contestants would be flashing blue and red colored smiles as they received awards for the best times.
The triathlon was a well-organized event which will continue to grow each year as more want to compete. For more photos by other Journal Scene photographers visit the JournalScene.com SeenIt page.
Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.