When the Coastal Triathlon Club was established in 2015, the focus was for adults to compete in the tri-sport. Not only does triathlon competition encourage adults to stay fit, it allows them to pursue an avenue of competition.
The current board and club are made up of local competitors who are looking to impact the community not only through cycling, running and swimming, but through building character in the next generation.
Lessons learned through competing triathlons have proven to be a valuable tool for future success.
"Tackling three sports at an early stage of life sets them up for success later on as they tackle other things," said John Cameron, the president of Coastal Tri Club. "This program may be young, but it is certainly not lacking vision for the future."
A parent information meeting was held Dec. 10 to gauge the interest in having the Coastal Tri Club expand its influence and allow kids to join. Six hopefuls were in attendance at that first meeting. On Jan. 17, close to 20 athletes showed up for the first official practice, and the Coastal Kids Tri Club was established.
Local kid athletes have been committed to the process since the launch of the club. Youth ages 7-15 are eagerly representing the Coastal Kids Tri Club from beginner to advanced levels of competition.
Despite having volunteer coaches, the tri club is not lacking in expertise. These kids are getting top-notch training from Mark Arlow, the president of the Richmond Hill Running Club, and Trudi Franzel, a national champion mountain bike racer. These two serve as primary coaches, but between the board and adult members, these young athletes have more than 10 years of competitive experience from which to learn.
The club is growing, and Cameron knows as a leader in the organization that he and the board must stay on top of things.
"We coordinate practices a month in advance," he said. "Even if coaches aren’t available, the board members and other club members step in to make sure the kids get properly trained. Running practice is held at Richmond Hill High School, and biking takes place at Richmond Hill Middle School. Many of the competitors already swim, train locally, but they hope to add open water training soon."
The beauty of the club for parents is that all levels are welcome to try to use whatever equipment they have. Cameron and the board realize that as with any sport, parents need to make sure triathlon is a good fit for their children before making the financial investment to purchase top-of-the-line equipment.
The competitors are learning to manage time and reach for the finish line. For many, this is a family affair is filled with incredible success stories along the way. In recent years, the sport has taken huge strides to move from the collegiate level into high schools. The sport is rapidly gaining national recognition, and the local club hopes to see continued acceptance in Richmond Hill.
"This is a warm and supportive group," Cameron said. "The parents are awesome and see the kids through the finish line. We all cheer each other along, despite competing alongside one another. Husbands and wives, parents and children. There are many opportunities coming that will continue to unite all ages and race skills."
In 2015, USA Triathlon announced triathlon as an official high school sport. Cameron said that moving forward, the local triathlon club will determine how to better equip local youth for high school and collegiate competition.
"You don’t need much to get into it other than willingness to practice," he said. "If you don’t have swim skills, you have to get lessons. Workouts are to put in the work. Other than that, you don’t need much to get started. Above all, you need the desire. The further you get into it is when athletes and parents determine when they are ready to fully commit."
Coastal Tri Club is changing the game on the Hill and is set to support the next generation of triathletes.
These young athletes compete in coastal Georgia, and in August, they will be right here in Richmond Hill.
The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is sponsoring the Last Splash Y Tri and Kids Tri on Aug. 27. This will be a great opportunity for locals to see these competitors in action.
For more on the Tri Club, go to coastaltriathlonclub.com or stop by the Georgia Game Changers Health and Fitness Complex at 8872 Ford Ave., Richmond Hill.