Students from the Pacific Christian School triathlon group head out on a training ride. The students participate in PCS’ Tin Man Triathlon on Wednesday (June 12).

Students from the Pacific Christian School triathlon group head out on a training ride. The students participate in PCS’ Tin Man Triathlon on Wednesday (June 12).

Triathlon class trains students for life

Pacific Christian School program offers something for students of all fitness levels

Cam Fennema and Peter Galbraith enjoy a friendly rivalry.

The Pacific Christian School Grade 12 students have been part of PCS athletic director John Stewart’s triathlon class together for the past four years and regularly push each other.

They’ll be doing it again Wednesday (June 12) as PCS contests its annual Tin Man race, which starts with a swim in the Commonwealth Place pool and ends with runners crossing the line in front of the school.

“We have a long-standing competitive drive between (us),” Fennema said of his training partner outside of school. “This year, Peter’s really got the swim down and should be first or second out of the pool.”

Galbraith said he always anticipates the big race, which he has done since Grade 7, when he was a student at PCS elementary.

“I get pretty nervous, but I push myself,” he said.

The senior (Grade 10 to 12) race and the junior event (Grade 9 and under), set for Thursday, feature the same distances: a 300-metre swim, followed by a 10-kilometre bike ride and a 3K run.

The boys admit they’ll likely be chasing up-and-coming triathlon star and last year’s junior Tin Man champ, Emily Clark, who is still just in Grade 10.

“Emily’s phenomenal,” Galbraith said. “She does a lot of training and is a lot faster than Cam and I in the swim. Plus she’s an unreal runner. You hit the run and sometimes Cam and I die out – she doesn’t.”

Clark trains with former Olympic triathlete Kelly Guest and set the school record for girls in 2012.

Stewart likes Clark’s chances to finish first overall. “She’s an outstanding swimmer,” he said. “And she has worked very hard on the bike and that’s improved, but she’s a really gifted runner.”

While Clark may well have a future career in the sport, Stewart likes the fact that students who aren’t necessarily athletic have taken the class and incorporated a fitness regime into their lifestyle.

He recalls two girls who came to him about eight years ago and said they wanted to get in better shape. “They weren’t athletic at all, but two years later I saw them working out. They actually stuck with it. They took what they learned and applied it.”

Even Clark, who is honing her technical skills with Stewart’s help, appreciates the life lessons in the class.

“It’s great to see people really enjoy something like this,” she said. “I just love cheering for those people doing it for the first time.”

sports@vicnews.com