^pBy STEPHEN MCKAY
With so many modern technological devices keeping kids inside these days, TriMonsters in Venice has been doing what it can to get them outside.
Training area youth in the sport of triathlon since 2014, TriMonsters is an alternative to the traditional sports played in most schools. Triathlons are not a meant to replace the love of another sport in a child’s heart, but be more like an enjoyable addition. In fact, triathlons provide great cross-training for just about any sport.
For some, triathlon training becomes a favorite very quickly, and even a passion.
“I started doing triathlons in 2009 and I just fell in love with it,” said TriMonsters founder Deb Peters.
Peters, who owns DP Fitness and Wellness at 210 W. Miami Ave., began to recommend triathlons to her clients.
“I thought triathlon would be a way to get their focus off of the scale and on to what their body can actually accomplish,” Peters said. “After a couple of years, I thought, ‘Let’s see if I can get something going with the kids.’
“There’s such an epidemic of obesity and inactivity with our young today. Triathlon seemed like part of the solution.”
TriMonsters began with just seven children five years ago. Now, the organization has about 40 members and had close to 50 in 2018.
They range in age from 5 to 17. But of course, they won’t be conditioning themselves for the grueling distances associated with Ironman triathlons.
For ages 5-10, a triathlon consists of a 100-yard swim, 3-mile bike and a half-mile run. For those 10-15, the distances are doubled to a 200-yard swim, 6-mile bike and 1-mile run.
Fortunately, Florida has regular youth and adult triathlons throughout the state. During the TriMonsters season, which lasts from March to October, Peters takes the group to different competitions.
“We’re practicing now for nationals the first week of August,” said Peters. “Then the second weekend, some of them will go to a triathlon in Naples. The week after that, some will go to Clermont. Most of the team will be in Palm Harbor at the end of August.”
Triathlon is also a time-friendly commitment. The team practices just once a week, for about 90 minutes every Sunday morning.
While the season lasts for about half the year, it’s not unusual for some kids to come and go. With school out, families on vacation and obligations to other sports, different levels of commitment are understood.
For the Tison family, the TriMonsters has become somewhat of a family outing every Sunday. Each week, the Tisons drive from Fort Myers for practice.
“One of the resorts that I was working at in Captiva actually hosted triathlons,” said Paul Tison. “So, I did a triathlon and trained for it and enjoyed it. But they also had a kid’s triathlon attached to it.
“When our kids saw all the kids doing it, they wanted to get involved the following year. It just so happened, the TriMonsters were there too, and that’s where we met them.”
Tison, with his wife Monica and two boys, Nicholas (11) and Daniel (8), now come to Venice every Sunday to spend the morning on Venice beach. And they’re not alone. A number of families enjoy practice from the comfort of a beach chair or a large blanket.
For Jessie and Sophia Roberts, working out with the TriMonsters was one of the first activities they enjoyed following their move to Venice after eight years in the Middle East.
“When we moved here, our parents wanted to find a sport. So we tried this and loved it,” said 11-year-old Jessie Roberts.
“I started when my brother did,” said 8-year-old Sophia. “It’s fun and I really like the coaches.”
In addition to Peters, the coaching staff includes Heather Butcher and Deb’s husband, Gene. Butcher and Deb Peters are USA Triathlon certified Level 1 and youth and junior coaches. Gene Peters coaches swimming.
For Tyson Possehl, 17, after two years with the TriMonsters, he already has an eye toward triathlon competitions in college.
“The coaches are terrific. They push me to reach my full potential,” said Possehl, who also runs cross country. “I’d like to be able to do this in college, and I know quite a few places have club triathlon teams.”
For anyone interested in finding out more about TriMonsters, Deb Peters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813-731-8767.