How do you create a positive first triathlon experience for youth who aren’t confident in their swimming ability (if they are even able to swim), may not have a bike, and haven’t even heard of a triathlon? V3 created an opportunity for any youth in North Minneapolis – an urban core, with the largest concentration of youth in Minnesota to participate in their first triathlon. Nearly 50 youth participated in the first ever V3 Sports “Do More Than Tri….Finish Strong” (DMTT) introductory triathlon in North Minneapolis. Nearly 50 hard-working volunteers helped ensure the day was filled with excitement, safety and fun, while also providing a clear introduction to youth who had never heard of triathlon-let alone imagined participating in one. V3’s vision of making sure this was a positive experience was confirmed, as proud parent of three participants, Victoria Yepez, summed up everyone’s sentiments, “All my girls loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat”.
Swimming is a barrier to many families in our community – statistically, more than 65% cannot swim – (one of the main impetus for building the center). DMTT participants were able to enter the pool with a volunteer who would assist them. This looked different for every participant, some could swim ten yards, some held onto the volunteers arms and kicked, others were “pulled” across, and still others held onto the side of the pool to safely get to the other side. “We volunteered for the swim portion of the event and helped shepard kids across the pool, some of whom could swim but most who were still just learning, but even for learners who seemed a little initially scared, the positive attitude and excitement was palpable. It was really fun and really cool, ” stated volunteers Neal Cuthbert and Louise Robinson.
Once finished with their swim, DMTT participants entered the modified transition zone, which consisted of an area where they left everything they would need for the bike (shoes, t-shirts, helmets if they had their own bike, etc.) and then were directed to the bike zone. Participants were able to either “grab” their bike, or were led to a donated bike to use, courtesy of Venture North and The Loppet Foundation. To make sure each participant was properly prepared and equipped, each participant was asked whether they could swim and if they had a bike when they checked in. (If they could not swim, they were given a red wristband to alert all volunteers to keep a close eye on them when they were by the pool, and were given a blue wristband if they needed to borrow a bike to help transition volunteers know how to direct them).
Volunteers were positioned quite generously around the course, to cheer each participant to “tri” their best and continue! Some even brought bubbles – which encouraged two-year old Valencia to keep going on the run!
Participants could select from two distances: “First Tri-ers” (25 yard swim, aka water immersion, .8 mile bike and .25 mile run (chosen because it was one time across the pool, one time around the park and one time around the baseball/football field) or “Challengers” (three times each discipline). The goal was to make it as simple and straight-forward for all participants, and make sure they had a positive first experience with the sport, as both distances were achievable, especially with assistance on the swim. As volunteer Peter Moyer stated, “the whole format of the triathlon was achievable. It really introduced the combination of the different disciplines in an achievable way. Every participant I spoke with said they had a good time, and several asked when is the next one? One young participant wanted it to be next Saturday, and was crestfallen to learn it would be another year!”
Based on this feedback, V3 will implement training sessions next summer, harking back to their roots, and also invite parents to participate. Many of the parents finished the run with their children and expressed tremendous pride in the accomplishments of their children, afterwards at the BBQ, while the DJ spun music. Venture North had a surprise announcement for, they had ten bikes to donate! Every participant with a blue wristband, turned them in to see if their name would be drawn. You can imagine the excitement on their faces when their name was called!!
Dean Nisha Botchwey, along with V3’s Board Chair and Alumn, Analyah Schlaeger dos Santos, provided an energetic and inspiring overview of what to expect in a triathlon, how to participate in one, and how the event is similar to life. The name of the event, “Do More Than Tri….Finish Strong” is an analogy to life and was specifically chosen so all participants, as they chanted in a call and repeat format, on the way to the start, “Do More Than Tri”….”Finish Strong” would remember.
V3 began working with youth in 2007, training them for triathlon during the summer months. It was during these years that V3 recognized the impact their program was having on its athletes, their families, and community, and realized there was a critical need to expand. They would need to build a center, specifically one in North Minneapolis, so youth could receive quality training, coaching and programming year round – where they reside – rather than travel to the suburbs. V3 has been hard at work raising funds, while also developing partnerships and training future employees. Several V3 alum were critical to the success of the day, including Isaac De Souza, who mentioned his “favorite part was seeing everyone running in at the end. I even ran in with one of the kids – he was walking and it reminded me of myself – seeing all the people at the end of the race was nostalgic.” Several V3 alum were critical to the success of the day, including Isaac De Souza, who mentioned his “favorite part was seeing everyone running in at the end. I even ran in with one of the kids – he was walking and it reminded me of myself – seeing all the people at the end of the race was nostalgic.”
Swim Program Details
Group Lessons – All levels
Learn basic arm strokes, coordinated leg kicks, front and back floating with roll-overs, breath control, and skills to promote comfort with deep water submersion.
Depending on level of swimmer – we will also focus on stroke technique, developing endurance, and improving water safety skills.
Private & Family Lesson
Learn to swim as a family or bring your friends! Up to five people are welcome to join us to work on swimming skills with a private instructor. $10 for a 30 minute lesson.
This class is for teens ages 13-19 to learn and practice lifeguarding skills in preparation for the Red Cross Lifeguard Certification. Participants will develop in-water lifesaving skills, as well as CPR/AED, and First Aid for adults, children and infants. V3 is looking to hire lifeguards and hopes participants will consider working for V3 after getting certified!
In this class mothers of all swim levels will learn water safety and lifesaving skills. You will learn how to recognize a water emergency and what actions to take, as well as preventative measures that can keep you and your family safe in the water. These skills will be taught both in and out of the water.
Mondays in July from 4:30-5:30pm
Wednesdays in July 7:30-8:30pm
We are continuing to add programming to address community needs and interests, so please reach out to Mollybelk1@gmail.com if you have questions or ideas!