SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)– The annual Syracuse Kids Aquathon event is inspiring local youth to get more active, especially in aquatics.
Sondra Roth, a member of the Thornden Park Association Board, said this is the Aquathon’s fifth year of operation. She said the Syracuse City’s Department of Parks and Recreation has collaborated with five parks in Syracuse to host the event at different parks on select weekends throughout this summer.
“The reason for it is to engage children in park activities,” said Roth. “This is an opportunity for them to get accustomed to being in the pool and also just doing their personal best in terms of showing what their swimming skills look like.”
Yesterday morning, the Aquathon event series concluded at Thornden Park.
Roth said the event targeted children between the ages of 3 to 15 years old and divided them into courses, based on their age groups. Each age group was expected to complete a swim of a specified distance in the Thornden Park pool followed by a run through the park. The course length was based on the age group of the children, according to the City of Syracuse’s website.
Katie McDonald, the parent of a 6-year-old participant, stressed how important the Aquathon event is to Syracuse.
“We’re unfortunately not doing enough around swim instruction right now. Resources are a little tight and there aren’t enough lifeguards. I think it’s great that the City’s parks are bringing kids in and helping them move their bodies and stay healthy,” said McDonald.
Megan Donnelly-Heg, another parent of a participant, said the Aquathon is a way to help grow the City’s swimming program and address the lifeguard shortage.
Joevan Gandy, an 11-year-old participant, partook in the Aquathon for the first time this year. He said the Aquathon inspired him, as a beginner swimmer, to practice his technique so that he could participate and perform better next year. Gandy acknowledged that while the running aspect was his favorite part of the Aquathon, he has grown to like swimming a lot more now.
Roth said that participants at Thornden Park were given ice-cream coupons to Skippy’s on-site ice-cream truck, along with a “swag bag” filled with goodies.
She said the ultimate goal is to grow the Aquathon event in the future. Currently, the event’s capacity is 40 children per age division. However, the event only saw approximately a dozen children per age division yesterday, according to Roth.
“We want people to be fit, we want people to use the resources of the park. It’s just getting more kids here. If we could get 75 to 100 children to participate in this event (next year). That would be wonderful,” said Roth.
She said the most important thing is to get more Syracuse children involved in swim lessons so that they’re connected and aware of aquatic events held by the city.