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Kid triathlons get 'em going and provide lots of variety

San Antonio Express-News—June 30, 2008

Although the word "triathlon" tends to evoke mental images of extreme fitness — athletes stretched to the peak of their endurance, bloodied, crawling across the finish line — the growing trend of youth triathlons may soon dispel that cliché.

"Parents have to recognize it's not the Ironman (Triathlon)," said Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and author of "The Young Athlete: A Sports Doctor's Complete Guide for Parents."

In fact, youth triathlons can be quite the opposite of the grueling races we imagine them to be. They can even be fun.

"It's about having a good time, being out and being active doing multiple activities. We have a huge problem of specialization in sports in this country and the triathlon, just by the nature of what it is, encourages a broadened physical portfolio for kids because it encourages cross-training," Metzl said.

Athletes who get a young start in triathlons, learn healthy habits early on and are likely to continue habitual physical activity throughout their lives.

"This is a sport people can do throughout their lives," Metzl said. "And it's a great family activity where both parents and kids can participate and cheer each other on. It sure beats sitting around watching TV."


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