For The Tribune
Tanner Swallows was only five years old last year when he was visiting family in Seymour and saw kids running by his grandparents’ home near Seymour High School in a youth triathlon.
As he saw kids running by and hearing the cheers, he told his parents, Cade and Angela, that he wanted to compete in the race as soon as he could.
Cade and Angela looked up information about the race and found out he would be eligible for the 2016 race.
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The family is from Chandler, Arizona, and decided to plan their annual trip to visit family in Seymour around the race, which took place Saturday morning at Seymour High School.
Swallows was one of 35 participants in the race that had two age groups.
Children ages six to 10 swam 100 yards, biked two miles, and ran a half-mile. Participants 11 to 14 swam 200 yards, biked four miles and ran one mile.
Many gathered around the finish line near Bulliet Stadium to cheer on participants and ring cow bells.
Kendra Zumhingst has organized the event for the Boys and Girls Club and said she has never made it through one of the races without having tears come to her eyes as kids cross the finish line.
“I got it today during the swim when the crowd went wild,” she said. “I like watching the kids at the end because they’re the ones that get the entire crowd out here and for the last few, everyone is still around and cheering, ringing their cowbells.”
Zumhingst is an accomplished triathelte, competing and finishing an Ironman race — which is a full triathlon — in Louisville in 2013.
She said many get the jolt of energy from the crowd during the last stretch of the race.
“Everyone would be surprised that when you think you don’t have anything left in the tank and you hear people cheering for you, you can really do anything,” she said. “When the cowbell goes crazy and when they turn that corner and realize they only have that little stretch left, I always get teary-eyed.”
The Swallows helped their son prepare by having him run, ride his bike and enrolling him in swim lessons.
Cade has competed in triathlons before, so he was able to help Tanner prepare. Zumhingst said event organizers scheduled two sessions for participants to get familiar with the course and learn what they would be doing.
“We have two practices the week before just so they can understand what they will be doing and get familiar with the course,” she said.
This was the first race for Swallows, and following the race, it seemed to have been a successful one.
“I think I did awesome,” he said, adding that his favorite section of the race was the running portion. “The big kids were running by our house last year and I saw them and I wanted to do it and I wanted to do it this year and it was just really cool.”
When he saw the runners go by his grandparents’ house last year, Angela said he quickly became interested and has discussed it ever since.
“We have talked about it for an entire year,” she said with a laugh. “He had a great time, he loved it and can’t wait to do it again next year.”