Sunday’s Youth Triathlon at Maidstone Park was the I-Tri program’s biggest yet, what with 72 entrants who ranged in age from 10 to 17.
“We’ll probably have to cap the number of entrants soon,” said Diane O’Donnell, one of I-Tri’s volunteer coaches, given the fact that the town has yet to close down the 7-mile bicycle course to traffic.
Still, all went smoothly, Theresa Roden, I-Tri’s founder, said afterward, adding, “We were thrilled with the turnout.”
The event, in its fifth year, began with a 300-yard bay swim, which was overseen by East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad members, segueing through the aforementioned 7-mile bike leg to a 1.5-mile run around the Maidstone Park loop. There were three swimming waves separated by 2 minutes each.
The winner, in the record time of 34 minutes and 39.05 seconds, was 17-year-old Nick Sweeney of Aspen, Colo., who is a town lifeguard at Ditch Plain Beach in Montauk.
Interestingly, it was the first triathlon for Sweeney, whose sport at Aspen High School is Nordic cross-country skiing, and who’s hoping to break into the top 10 nationwide.
Chasen Dubs of East Hampton, who’s only 13, was the runner-up, in 39:16.75, followed across the line about 9 seconds later by Paige Duca, 16, of Rockville Centre, who’s also a Ditch Plain lifeguard. She was the girls winner, as she was last year.
Lucy Kolhoff, 17, who’s a lifeguard at Kirk Beach in Montauk, finished fourth in 40:27.33.
Kolhoff, it should be noted, has had to pass up invitations to participate in international beach flag competitions in Japan (last year) and France (in mid-September) because of school obligations.
Dubs, who has represented East Hampton the past four years in regional and national junior lifeguarding tournaments, had the day before competed in an Eastern Surfing Association competition in Lido Beach, where he finished second in his group, he said.
Questioned as to his broad athletic interests, the East Hampton Middle School eighth grader said he saw himself eventually as a triathlete.
As for the I-Tri girls, from the Springs, Montauk, and Southampton schools, who, under the guidance of Sharon McCobb, O’Donnell, Amanda Husslein, and Annette MacNiven, among others, point toward this race in their training, “all improved their times,” said Roden.
Among the numerous spectators that day was Jen Gatz, an exercise physiologist and high school biology teacher who’s embarked on a doctoral study in which the I-Tri girls are participating that she thinks will bear out her theory that exercise improves problem-solving abilities and that the consequent neurocognitive improvement can produce a change for the better in junior high girls’ attitudes toward the study of science.
“The correlations have been fantastic — I’m looking to crunch the numbers within the next three to four weeks,” said Gatz. “The study’s panning out the way I thought — a professor of mine, after looking at the data, said, ‘You really have something here.’ ”
Roden said Gatz is to give a talk on her study to the Academy of Sports Medicine later this year.
The Swansons, Rich and Isabella, could boast of two age-group winners, in Sophia (11-to-12 females) and Isabella (13-14 females). Sophia, 11, was seventh over all, in 43:39.68, and Isabella, 14, who played on East Hampton High’s softball team this year as an eighth grader, was eighth, in 43:50.43.
Besides the aforementioned, the top 20 included Maggie Purcell, 13, who was fifth, in 42:39.88; LuMei Abatangelo, 15, sixth in 42:50.28; Evie Purcell, 12, ninth in 43:55.00; T.J. Calabrese, 15, 10th in 44:18.63.
Caroline Oakland, 13, 11th in 44:46.30; Julia Brierley, 12, who was 12th in 45:10.60; Thomas Treadwell, 13, 13th in 45:11.61; Cecelia De Havenon, 15, 14th in 45:36.15.
Will Platt, 12, 15th in 46:03.59; Isabella Tarbet, 11, 16th in 46:05.10; Kevin Bunce Jr., 11, 17th in 46:49.25; Joey Badilla, 11, who was 18th in 47:03.41; Tali Friedman (the top I-Tri finisher), 14, who was 19th in 47:10.28, and Alden Powers, 11, who was 20th in 47:25.65.
“It’s a great program — it helps girls find themselves,” said Tali Friedman. “It helps them gain confidence and to be more athletic.”
“We cheer each other on,” said Sydney Salamy. “It’s fun.”
“I-Tri provides a great support system,” said Kristin Friedman, whose other daughter, Ali, 12, was later that day to win in straight sets a United States Tennis Association 12-and-under tennis tournament at Sportime in Amagansett.
McCobb, who is the Old Montauk Athletic Club’s president, and who was the Youth Triathlon’s director, said she’s been overseeing the triathletic training of 10 young athletes, most of whom competed Saturday, for the Sprint Triathlon that’s to be held in Montauk this Sunday — a group that comprises Chasen Dubs, Maggie and Evie Purcell, Cecelia De Havenon, Ryan Bahel, Ryan Duryea, T.J. Calabrese, Isabella and Sophia Swanson, and Julia Brierley.
Sweeney said he’d be doing the Sprint Triathlon (half-mile swim at Gin Beach, 14-mile bike, and 3.1-mile trail run to the Lighthouse). Duca said she would do it too.