Becoming a youth triathlete

22 February 2022

Meet Aria, a very talented Frog Bikes ambassador. Aria is now 10 years old and has been cycling since she was 5. And, has been competing in triathlons from the age of 6, which just happened by accident.

Triathlons are the sport Aria loves to hate! She loves it because she gets to do 3 different sports all in one race. And she sometimes hates it because so much can go wrong. But, you never make the same mistake twice!

A competitive individual sport for young children seemed to be in short supply where Aria lives and she really wanted to race! Running in weekend park runs just wasn't enough anymore so her parents started looking into what else was available and stumbled across a 'scootathlon' (a non-competitive scoot bike run). Aria decided she wanted to enter and after her first event, she was hooked!

ENTERING THE WORLD OF TRIATHLONS

It wasn't long before Aria was able to compete in full triathlons which have been tailored for young people. This includes swimming, cycling and running over various distances competing for overall completion time. Not all triathlons have the same distance so finding the right ones that are most suited to Aria’s abilities is key.

  • Swimming- A triathlon always starts off with swimming, but triathletes are not allowed to swim backstroke.
  • Cycling - After swimming is cycling. Triathletes have to hop on their bike as quickly as possible and cycle. And then dismount the bike whilst it’s still moving to get over the line quickly.
  • Running - Finally, it is time for running.

Aria explains why she loves competing in triathlons “Triathlons are fun! I like the competition but I also like going to all the different places to race.”

The way the age-grades for triathlons work was originally in Aria's favour. The groups are by age of the child as of December 31st so being December born meant Aria could start competitive racing not long after she turned 6. Unfortunately, the age groups after this year become 2-year age groups combined together. This now means that although Aria has just turned 10 she will be competing in the 11-12-year-old category.

Aria’s mum commented “Aria already recognises the difference in development between her and some of the other competitors and sometimes allows the thought of racing in this age group to daunt her. But we've had lots of discussions about the upcoming season and Aria is going to use this year as a practice year so she doesn't get disheartened. Although I'm sure that once she's back racing again any hang-ups will all be forgotten!”

TRAINING FOR TRIATHLONS

Training for Aria is easy. Running is her passion so she trains twice a week with a local running club. She sees swimming and cycling as her hobbies so trains with a local swim club twice a week and she swims socially when she can. She cycles to school and at weekends in her spare time. For now, Aria wants to enjoy the more fun side of cycling rather than the competitive side.

The 2021 Summer Olympics was a great inspiration to Aria. Watching the pro's battle it out and seeing that even the best make mistakes was a real confidence boost for Aria.

WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED?

The kit needed for triathlons varies depending on the child and their goals. But keeping it simple is a good place to start. Here’s what Joanne, Aria’s mum recommends:
“A swimsuit, a bike and trainers just for starting out. If you start to do tri's regularly a tri suit and race belt are easier and quicker. But any T-shirt can be put on with a race number pinned to it in the beginning.”

LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

Triathlons have so many things to remember and over the years Aria has dealt with a few! She's lost her helmet before a cycle, her race number in transition, ran the wrong way multiple times and has even run with her shoes on the wrong feet! Although initially she gets annoyed she knows that it's all part of the experience and it's those races that she remembers the most and can look back and see the funny side.

ARIA’S TOP TRIATHLON TIPS

Transitioning quickly from one leg of the race to the other is a key part of the triathlon sport. And, as parents are not allowed in these areas it’s important for children to be able to get themselves sorted on their own. And it is all in the preparation.

    Here are Aria’s top tips:
  • Get to a race early so you can register without rushing
  • Check your bike is in the right gear
  • Put your bike in transition with your helmet, shoes and race belt
  • Try to walk the course so you know where to go
  • Put your bike in transition with your helmet, shoes and race belt
  • Wear slip-on trainers that have no laces to save time
  • Sprinkle the inside of the trainers with talcum powder (to help dry your feet quickly)
  • Put some coloured tape in your helmet so it doesn't get taken by accident

Aria’s mum commented “Race day is always a great day out for the whole family and although Aria is the only one in our family that competes we always enjoy going to watch and soaking up the atmosphere. We are all looking forward to next season, Aria especially!”

ARIA’S ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE

Aria has gone from strength to strength since starting triathlons over 4 years ago, where she won 3rd place in the Intotri Series in the first year she competed and last year she won the series! What great achievements!!!

TRIATHLONS IN YOUR REGION

If you are interested in taking part in triathlons in your local area take a look at the British Triathlon Regional Junior series.


Share it on Social Media:

Categories

Latest blog posts

A bike isn't just for Christmas!
Frog Bikes hosts local MP visit as it looks to increase cycling participation through Councils
Why Frog Bikes is hopping mad about events
Top 10 tips for kids learning to ride a bike
Will you be pledging for Cycle to School Week?