Parents are keeping kids away from sedentary lifestyles through an array of activities. The Chamberlin family is no different. Brie Chamberlin, 8, and her sister Ally, 10, completed their first triathlon at the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA on Sept. 7. The girls took part in the Kids Try-a-Tri class at the Gills Family YMCA. The class meets twice a week for six weeks and involves training and learning to transition from one event to the next.
"It was a lot of work, but it all paid off when we crossed the finish line," Ally said. "The first class was hard because we weren't used to it yet. Once we understood the routine and what we were going to be doing, it got a lot easier."
The training is led by coach Tim Pemberton. The 31-year-old competes in triathlons and teaches adults and kids how to do it. He was looking for a way to get kids involved in something new and when the Try-a-Tri class opportunity arose, Pemberton was happy to take on the challenge.
"This is the first time we had a class for kids," Pemberton said. "I thought it was big success. Seeing the kids finish the race, all they wanted was their medal. It seemed like they were really proud of themselves. I think some were surprised at what they had done. I've gotten a lot of good feedback about the class and it seems like everyone wants us to offer it again, so we will."
The race that the girls participated in was part of the Youth Triathlon Series that supports the Lance Armstrong Live Strong Foundation.
The event was broken into age groups with Ally and Brie competing in the 7-10 category. The event required the girls to swim 100 yards, bike 2 miles and run half a mile.
"It was really hard because it was hot on the day of the triathlon," Ally said. "But my sister finished ahead of me so I knew that my family would be waiting for me at the finish line. That kept me going."
The girls' mother, Michelle, has been an athlete throughout her life and stresses the importance of the role that sports play in her children's lives.
"The girls are active anyway because they take dance, too," Chamberlin said. "But we try to encourage them to participate in a sport during every school semester so that they're more active. Dance is great, but both my husband and I were athletes and feel that it's important to have them in sports."
The experience the triathlon offers also teaches kids more than just how to stay fit.
"I learned that if you want to do something you have to go full out," Ally said. "You can't just stop in the middle and say 'I'm tired, I don't want to do this anymore.' Once you finish and you have the medal, then you know that you've done something really cool."
For their mother, having her kids more interested in exercise and recreational activity than video games and TV is a big relief.
"I'm really proud of their passion for doing things that they like to do," Chamberlin said. "It's great to see how well they're able to balance it all. We don't have to push them by any means and that is something I love."
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