SEATTLE — Three local special needs youths completed what few like them have done before — a triathlon.
But it was nothing new for them.
Becca Hadfield, 20, Jeremy Wynne, 22, and Laura Frederick, 20, were all veterans of Give it a Tri, which was staged Aug. 7 at Green Lake.
This was Frederick’s second year competing in the triathlon. Wynne and Hadfield have been coming out to the event since its inception in 2000.
That’s when Tristie McJilton, a special-ed teacher at Shorecrest High School, decided to give her students the opportunity to share her love for triathlons.
“I originally started it because I like to do triathlons,” she said. “I was training for a big one and I thought, ‘Gosh, this is something the students I work with could get involved with on a different level.’
“It’s a chance for them to get involved in a sport they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to participate in.”
Participants started the morning by swimming six laps in Evans Pool, which was followed by a two-mile bike ride. The athletes then wrapped up with a one-mile run or walk.
McJilton stressed the casual natural of Give it a Tri, saying it’s not about winning or losing but having fun.
“We try to make it noncompetitive,” she said. “Mostly it’s just an ‘I had fun, I participated and I finished’ kind of thing.”
And this year’s participants did have fun.
Each athlete was smiling while sprinting across the length of rope two fathers held up at the finish line.
Hadfield, a senior-to-be at Shorecrest High School, finished with a time of 1:03:09. That was slower than her time from last year of 54:19, but she didn’t care. She relaxed during the running/walking segment, strolling down the path until bursting into a sprint for the home stretch.
“(It was) fun,” Hadfield said. “I got to walk.”
Frederick, on the other hand, didn’t walk much. She pushed herself hard the entire event, and was delighted to finish in 29:54, beating last year’s time by four minutes.
Frederick, who will be a senior at Inglemoor next year, is a multi-sport athlete. She is a three-year triple gold medalist cross country skier for Ski Hawks, an organization for disabled skiers. Frederick said she competed in Give it a Tri partly to stay in shape for the upcoming skiing season. Frederick also bikes a few times a week.
“I like baseball, swimming, biking,” she said. “I like sports.”
Frederick is looking forward to Give it a Tri next year and expects to improve on her time.
“I’m getting better,” she said.
Wynne graduated from Shorecrest last year. Like Hadfield, he took a more casual approach to the event, waiting to start the biking segment until Hadfield — his girlfriend of five years — finished swimming.
Wynne enjoyed the biking segment the best, but said his favorite part of the triathlon is seeing his friends and teachers every summer.
“That’s my main thing,” he said.
Wynne finished with a time of 59:55.
Several teachers and parents volunteered at the event, as well as some students.
Jan Shier, a teacher assistant at Shorecrest, enjoyed helping out.
“I love to see the kids having fun and being with their peers,” she said. “They’ll talk about it when school starts — they just love being with their friends.”
David Rieben, 18, and Daniel Cliney, 16, who are both members of the Shorecrest wrestling team, came out, as did Annie Chou, 18, and Jason Wong, 19, recent Shorecrest graduates and Key Club members.
The Shoreline Kiwanis also helped out, donating money toward the pool rental, the T-shirts and bottled water provided to each athlete.
McJilton emphasized the importance of the participants having the opportunity to interact with their peers over the summer.
“A lot of times people with disabilities, young adults, they are very limited in activities that are centered around things that they can do,” McJilton said. “(Give it a Tri) gets them out and active with their friends. They need things like this so they can interact with their peers and see them over the summer.
“(Give it a Tri) is important on a variety of levels,” she added. “It’s really important for the general public to see these athletes out riding bikes and seeing kids participate in athletic events they usually don’t see them participating in. I think on a variety of levels it’s really positive.”
Although the three participants didn’t match the 10 to 15 athlete turnouts of the past, McJilton was pleased with the event’s outcome.
“I think it was great,” she said. “I think everybody here had a great time. Obviously we didn’t have the numbers we have had in the past, but the people here had a ball, and that’s the important thing.”
Give it a Tri will be held next year on the first Thursday in August at Green Lake. Athletes are charged a $5 entry fee to help cover expenses. To sign up, or for more information, contact Tristie McJilton at 206-417-9975.