Hard Work at the Pool
There are many unfortunate and some downright sad repercussions resulting from the folding of the Columbia, MD-based Columbia Triathlon Association or TriColumbia, as it was known. One of the lesser known casualties of the demise of TriColumbia, formerly the Mid-Atlantic's premier endurance event production company for the past 30 years, is the potential loss of a program called Learn2Tri, a youth triathlon education program.
This program began in 2011 with a partnership between TriColumbia and the Howard County Public School System, with financial backing from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and McDonald's Family Restaurants of Greater Baltimore, according to the CareFirst website. Other partners included, the Columbia Association, Trek Bicycles, the Howard County Police Department, Pinnacle Health & Wellness, and Lock Laces. The goal of Learn2Tri was to expose Howard County Public Elementary, Middle, and High School students to the life long health benefits of swimming, biking and running, as well as introduce them to the multi-sport event. I have been working on the swim portion of this effort from the beginning. That is, I have been teaching everything from water acclimation to triathlon techniques to students in the program. Probably the most expensive part of the three-part training is the swim training. There are some costs associated with the bike training, but I don't think it is nearly as costly as the swim. In order to teach the swim portion, students take what amounts to a field trip to the pool. The costs of the busses for the students, instructor pay and pool rental was paid for by TriColumbia through presumably donations, grants and partnership seed money. Unfortunately, that funding stream is gone with the collapse of TriColumbia.
So, while many running and triathlon enthusiasts are at least partly mollified by the news that many if not all of TriColumbia's planned races for this season will be picked up and run by another event production outfit (probably World Triathlon Corporation), Learn2Tri is not being picked up by that group.
I don't have the exact numbers of how many students would be impacted by the loss of this program, but there are 12 high schools in the county. We usually have between five and eight schools (and lately almost exclusively high schools) in each the Fall and Spring. Each school brings between 20 to 50 kids (in one group or two) for one day or two depending on their schedules. In my mind, this opportunity is priceless and worth continuing. Swimming, as I've said before, is a life saving, as well as life long skill/sport. It is: a hobby, a sport, a leisurely activity, a form of therapy, or a life saving skill.
We would love to find a new “home sponsor” for this program. Despite TriColumbia's unfortunate situation, they did a lot of wonderful things in and for our community. Their presence will be missed, but hopefully there is another group that would love to help us train the triathletes, or the casual swimmers, bikers and runners, of the future. If you are interested in sponsoring Learn2Tri, donating to Learn2Tri, or just finding out more, please contact me.