Seventh grader Kate Duffy competes on the Lynbrook swim team but never considered herself to be a great runner. Although, with each passing week, the student is picking up speed.
On the flip side, Anthony Gaetani, 12, runs track for, but was a weak swimmer. However, the seventh grader has noticed that he's been getting stronger and stronger each time he dives into the lap lane at Greis Park.
Duffy and Gaetani are among the 35 kids who are participating in Lynbrook's Middle School Triathlon Training Program, sponsored by Fly with the Owls, this summer. The eight week program, open to all Lynbrook residents entering Grade 6, 7 and 8, teaches the kids to tri.
Every Thursday night since June, they've been meeting at the village pool inside , where they swim laps together and practice racing. Then, they hop on their bicycles and hit the bike lane that runs past the Lynbrook community gardens (parallel to the LIRR tracks) and finish off their 90-minute practice with some sprinting drills inside the park.
It's hard work, but the kids are enjoying every minute of it.
"It's really a lot of fun," Duffy, 12, told Patch, after a recent practice with the team. "It's definitely taking up a lot of my time, but it's good because I'm not staying home and watching TV as much. I'm going out and running and biking and swimming, and it's really improving my body and making me stronger."
Plus, Duffy says she's still getting to hang out with her friends and she's made some new pals.
"The kids love it," Program Director Kathleen Hannan told Patch. "Some of the kids are on swim teams, some haven't swam, but nobody has ever done a triathlon before."
Hannan, a Lynbrook resident whose children attend OLP, considers herself a triathlon addict. She started the program several years ago because she wanted to give back to her community and share her love of the sport with the kids.
All the hard work will culminate on Aug. 16, when the kids will actually compete in a mini triathlon with a 400 meter swim, 5-mile bike ride and 1.5 mile run.
"A lot of these kids are stronger, so we might increase [the distance]," Hannan said.
"The whole goal is ... they are all going to start it and they are all going to finish," Hannan said. "Nobody's on the bench."
And although they are competing as individuals, Hannan still cultivates a sense of team among the young athletes.
"They train together. They may finish at different times, but [when they do] they will be cheering eachother on."
Each one will earn a medal and they will all celebrate with frozen yogurt, which is covered by their $60 registration fee, along with the gear, instruction and access to UST training plans.
Now, four weeks into training, Gaetani says, "I feel more confident as we get closer and closer to race day."
Both he and Duffy say they plan to continue competing races as they get older, perhaps even completing a full triathlon.
Duffy adds, "It's such a good experience to be able to say you did a triathlon."