"Active children can participate in the sport without a lot of specific triathlon training, per se," Martin said. "It should be challenging and fun."

Race day is typical of the setup up for an adult competition. Kids get T-shirts and swag bags, and at the end of the race are rewarded with snacks and medals.

"It's all the makings of a real triathlon, only with little people," Congedo said. "Kids want to emulate. They want to feel like they're in a real triathlon."

Sydney O'Clery was 5 years old when she saw her older brother compete in a triathlon and decided she wanted to do the same. She was too young at the time. When she finally reached the age to enter her first race, she loved it right way.

Sydney proved to be a natural and often places in her age group. She likes the running the best. Transitioning from the swim to the bike ride is the most challenging, she said.

"You have to go kind of fast, and I feel like I'm going to fall sometimes," she said.

Sydney, also of Mount Airy, said she wants to keep doing the races because she enjoys them so much.

"It's fun because there's more than one thing to do," she said.

Triathlon organizers said the races can help build confidence in children. They also hope it encourages a healthy lifestyle that will last for years to come.

"We feel really strongly about exposing children to a fitness program that can offer them a lifelong opportunity to stay healthy and fit," Congedo said.



Kids triathlons

Some upcoming Maryland events:

Kidz Triathlon: July 21 at Clemens Crossing Pool in Hickory Ridge Village, Martin Road and Clemens Crossing Elementary School, Columbia. tricolumbia.org

USA Triathlon Splash and Dash: June 23 at Waverly Woods Swim Club, 2180 Warwick Way, Marriottsville. July 20 at 5211 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park. usatriathlon.org