Janesville elementary students learn healthy living through exercise

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Nick Crow
July 9, 2015

JANESVILLE—The Janesville School District's annual summer school triathlon lures students into exercise by making it fun, said Craig High School softball coach and summer school instructor Dan Bayreuther.

"The first thing we've got to do is to make it fun," Bayreuther said. "Kids want to have fun, and they want to exercise. We just have to connect the dots."

Thursday's event was the culmination of four weeks of training, Bayreuther said. Second- through fifth-graders from schools throughout the city swam 200 yards at Marshall Middle School before biking four miles to Kennedy Elementary School and finished by running one mile.

A total of 21 students participated in the event in its 11th year. A large crowd of parents, teachers and supporters cheered on the students as they finished the event.

"Kennedy school started the triathlon club, and I thought 'What a good thing for the summer school program,'" Bayreuther said.

Marshall Middle School student Zoe Williams volunteered at the event to help motivate the students. She participated in the triathlon three times as an elementary school student at Harrison.

"We run with them and help to encourage them," Williams said. "It's good for them to learn that it feels good to exercise and get out there and say you accomplished a triathlon."

Bayreuther said its volunteers such as Williams who help make the event possible each year.

"I couldn't do it without the help I've had," he said. "They like being around the kids, and many of them ran in the event themselves. The bottom line is it's fun. They have a blast."

Bayreuther said the students trained for an hour each morning, five days per week. He times them to look for improvement.

"It's a short four weeks," Bayreuther said. "I time them and can see they become better runners, better swimmers and have overall better fitness. I'm not concerned about their time. I just want them to be able to finish (the triathlon)."

Harrison student Taia Hodgkinson improved by three minutes compared to last year, he said.

Liam McPherson, 8, approached Bayreuther at the end of the triathlon and asked Bayreuther to write his time on a piece of paper.

"Next year, I'm going to try and beat my time," he said. "I want to get faster."

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