Fast Youth

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page - By Pa­trick Janukavi­cius

Basedin Mon­treal, the triathlon club Les Rapi­des, French for both “fast” and “rapids,” ac­tu­ally refers to “Les Rapi­des de Lac St-Louis,” the lo­cal river where the club trains. It be­gan as a de­vel­op­ment club in 2003. The goal was to give chil­dren an op­por­tu­nity to stay in shape, de­velop dis­ci­pline and in­de­pen­dence while be­ing in a team en­vi­ron­ment.

In 2009, the youth fo­cus shifted to an em­pha­sis on fam­ily in­volve­ment, and par­ents can now get in shape at the same time as their kids. The club of­ten has as many as five coaches at one prac­tice for the vary­ing age­groups and lev­els.

The club runs ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties in ele­men­tary and high schools. In the sum­mer, it also or­ga­nizes a triathlon-themed week-long day camp for chil­dren and teens. Six weeks of train­ing camps were of­fered last sum­mer geared to­wards dif­fer­ent age­groups and race dis­tances. Per­haps its most pro­gres­sive of­fer­ing is the club’s sport-study pro­gram at a lo­cal col­lege so ath­letes can com­plete higher ed­u­ca­tion, with ex­tra sup­port, while train­ing for triathlon at the elite level.

The cur­rent Youth De­vel­op­ment Coach, Kelsey Vaughan, has been with the club since its in­cep­tion. In 2003, she did her first triathlon at eight years old. When she turned 16, she be­gan giv­ing back to the club by train­ing the kids. “It’s been sev­eral years now that the club has been op­er­at­ing year-round,” says Kelsey. “For the kids, in the winter we of­fer only swim­ming, three times a week. Then in the sum­mer, they have ac­cess to four prac­tices a week, and they can choose the ones they want to at­tend. Start­ing in 2012, we launched a sum­mer camp for kids. It’s a mix of a train­ing camp and a day camp.”

The club now has a team of elites, most of whom came through the club’s youth pro­gram in­clud­ing the 2011 Cana­dian male ju­nior cham­pion, Francis Le­feb­vre, KarolAnn Roy who was third an ju­nior na­tion­als in 2012, and Elis­a­beth Boutin, who fin­ished third at the 2013 Na­tional Ju­nior Elite Se­ries in Ed­mon­ton.

Boutin has been do­ing triathlon for 10 years and has been train­ing with Les Rapi­des for a year. “It’s great. The club trains at fa­cil­i­ties con­nected to the col­lege. I came to Les Rapi­des be­cause ev­ery­thing is in one place.”

“The sport-study pro­gram helps us a lot. If we want to leave for a train­ing camp, they help us de­fer ex­ams,” ex­plains Roy who has been train­ing with Les Rapi­des for five years. Al­though she is an elite, she in­sists, “It’s re­ally a club for ev­ery­one. There are kids, adults, elites.”

Le­feb­vre started train­ing with Les Rapi­des five years ago, the same time as Roy. When asked about the goals of the elite team, Le­feb­vre re­sponds, “We’d love to have a na­tional train­ing cen­tre. It would be nice to have one in Que­bec and here would be per­fect,” he says. “Cur­rently we swim at the Aquadome in Lasalle, a fa­cil­ity with a 50-me­tre pool.”

The older ath­letes in the club are in­spired by the young ath­letes who have so much po­ten­tial. How­ever, the old also in­spire the young. The club’s most se­nior mem­ber, 57-year- old Bob Dupuis, de­scribes a dif­fi­cult train­ing camp at Mont-Trem­blant when he in­spired other mem­bers to keep push­ing. “The hilly course was drain­ing and af­ter do­ing two laps of the most dif­fi­cult stretch of the Ironman Mont-Trem­blant bike course,” re­calls Dupuis, “many ath­letes were ready to call it quits, even though the plan was to do three laps. When ev­ery­one saw that I was still go­ing, they de­cided they had to con­tinue.”

“There are lots of ben­e­fits to train­ing with a club,” says Dupuis. “When I started, I couldn’t swim, I needed to learn tech­nique. I also had no rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It was great to learn some tricks from the coaches and all the other ath­letes. Ten years ago, I was a smoker and not eat­ing healthy. Now, I’m an Ironman. It helps in all as­pects of my life. I am a bet­ter worker be­cause of the train­ing I do.”

Kids at Les Rapi­des Day Camp in 2012 in Lasalle, Que.

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