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Today, youth triathlon is where it’s at as kids are to running to the sport at a swift rate.
USA Triathlon (USAT) has made youth development a priority as triathlon is currently the fastest growing sport in US Olympic Movement. The explosion of youth triathlon and the sport in general has picked up so much steam that it was recently approved by the NCAA to become a an emerging Division I sport for women, creating new opportunities within the Olympic pipeline for student-athletes. If all goes well, one would expect a Division I status for men will soon follow.
Over the last few years Youth Triathlon, categorized by kids ages 7-17, has taken off at an incredible pace. With the explosion in youth triathlon, Ridgewood Tri Athlete (RTA) decided to launch an Intro to Triathlon program for kids. The idea was to introduce the kids within the community to triathlon and a healthy life style in a fun and enticing way. The goal was to get 15 kids to sign up for the program, but that didn’t happen. Instead, RTA had over 50 kids register for their first Kids Triathlon Training Program – “Intro to Tri” – and it proved to be a HUGE success!
The success of the program should have come as no surprise as the landscape of youth triathlon continues to explode among our kids.
Each year more and more Youth Triathlon events are added as participation continues to soar. Youth races are typically broken up into various age categories (7-8, 9-10, 11-2 & 13-15) with distances for each group that are deemed “age appropriate” by USAT. According to USAT, the “distances are intentionally short and intended simply to expose our youngest triathletes to basic elements of triathlon and give them a taste of the unique sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a triathlon. ”
As youth development within triathlon continues and more races become available it is important to remember the focus of youth multisport events should be fun. “Rather then emphasizing competition, kids, parents, and coaches should focus on enjoyment, and on learning proper skills and healthy exercise habits that will last a lifetime.”
“We were overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback our Kids Triathlon Program received,” Said Chris Kaplanis, Managing Director & Coach at Ridgewood Tri Athlete. “At this point, we are deciding how we can offer the kids MORE triathlon over the fall, winter and spring months before building up to our Kids Triathlon Program 2.0 in the summer of 2015. In the years to come, it is our goal to create a youth triathlon academy, which will enable young gifted athletes to progress further and become prepared for college and beyond.”