It’s Back!! The Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon Returns for 2015


Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon Returns to Chapel Hill

Founder’s Daughter to Assume Race Director Position

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Swim for Smiles Foundation is proud to announce that it will once again hold its annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon in Chapel Hill, N.C. The 2015 event will be Annabelle Kayye’s first event as the SFS Race Director, a title SFS co-founder Gary Kayye, her father, is proud to pass along to her.

Gary Kayye co-founded the Swim for Smiles Foundation as a way to give back to N.C. Children’s Hospital after his daughter, Annabelle, spent nine weeks in and out of area children’s hospitals battling a serious illness when she was just four years old.

“I couldn’t be prouder that my daughter stepped-up and asked if she could become a race director for the 2015 event,” Kayye said. “There’s probably nobody better to take the helm as she has not only raced in virtually every event we’ve held, but she’s also participated in nearly every meeting, set up, teardown and event planning session we’ve ever had.”

cancel-pic2Last year, the foundation had to regretfully cancel the long running annual youth event due to unforeseen circumstances, however this year, the race is back! The ultimate goal is to provide the highest quality race possible and the foundation is committed to providing the best race Chapel Hill has seen.

The 8th Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon will be held on August 30th and will be open to kids ages 5-17 and is a USA-Triathlon sanctioned event, which includes two courses, a short course and long course for all levels of participants. In addition, a limited number of relay teams will be open to participants.

We will unveil the exact location on May 6th when we open officially open registration. The 2015 race will only be available to the first 300 kids that register. For more information about the Swim for Smiles Foundation, please visit

About the Swim for Smiles Foundation
The Swim for Smiles Foundation was founded by Gary Kayye and Laura Gondek in 2005 and is based in Chapel Hill, N.C. The organization is an all volunteer based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization benefitting N.C. Children’s Hospital by hosting annual youth events.

Important Race Participant and Volunteer Emails

emailWe’ve been sending emails this week to our SFS Youth Triathlon participants and volunteers. If you haven’t gotten any, check your spam/junk email please! It’s important information and the emails are there, we promise!

If for some reason you haven’t been receiving the participant emails, we have all of them archived here.

If you haven’t been receiving the volunteer emails, they are archived here.

Q & A With Co-founder Gary Kayye

Gary_story Chapel Hill Magazine’s Amanda MacLaren recently interviewed our co-founder Gary Kayye about Swim for Smiles and the upcoming 7th Annual Youth Triathlon.

The 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned race and will be held at the Briar Chapel community in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sept. 8. The new venue accommodates more participants and offers a wider course.

This article by Amanda MacLaren originally appears here.

Newsmakers: Gary Kayye

Gary’s daughter, Annabelle, was diagnosed with Acute Demyelenating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) when she was 4 years old. Since then, Annabelle has recovered, and Gary credits UNC Hospitals and its doctors with saving her life. Wanting to give back in some way, he teamed up with fellow swim parent Laura Gondek to create the Swim for Smiles Foundation in 2005. Its seventh annual triathlon, the organization’s biggest event, will be held in the fall for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 8. The USA Triathlon-sanctioned race offers a new, wider course in Briar Chapel to accommodate more participants. Registration is open to kids ages 5-18 and includes short- and long-course options, plus a limited number of relay teams. All money goes to the N.C. Children’s Hospital.

1- Swim for Smiles was the largest children’s triathlon in the U.S. a couple years ago. Why do you think it’s taken off like it has?

We were in the right place at the right time. We put together a kids’ race right at the peak of popularity of adult triathlons. In 2010 and ‘11, it was the fastest growing sport in the world. I think a lot of parents who were involved in it wanted their kids to be involved, too.

I also think we have a very active community here in Chapel Hill. In fact, we were told by USA Triathlon back in 2011 or 2012 that North Carolina was one of the top five states overall for adult triathlons. I think we kind of got lucky in the sense that we started our race as the sport was building in popularity and I think that we peaked at the right time. Now, it was just announced about a month ago that triathlon is going to be an NCAA sport in 2018 for girls and 2019 for boys. I think we started at the right time, because some of the kids that are involved in our triathlon will absolutely become triathletes in college.

2- How intensive is the training for the triathlon?

We do put on clinics before the race and, of course, we put out a tremendous amount of education information. If you go to our website,, we teach you the steps of how to do a triathlon. For the last six years, more than half of the kids have been participating in their first triathlon. But the nice thing is we have a short course, which can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to complete. And then we have a long course for kids who are a little more experienced, which is twice the distance in each area basically, and that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The younger kids gravitate towards the shorter course and the older kids gravitate towards the longer course, and we have some kids who are extremely athletic and do both courses in the same day.

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We are proud to announce – FINALLY – that registration is OPEN for the 2013 edition of the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon!!!

sfs1In our 7-year history, this will be our first Fall race and we’ll celebrate it with an all-new venue and better race course (speed-bump free, wider roadways and fewer hills). The 2013 race will be in the southern part of Chapel Hill, NC on September 8th and the brand-new Briar Chapel neighborhood:

Our 2011 event drew over 850 participants and was the largest kid’s triathlon in the USA and it was followed up with a 2012 event that was smaller due to the venue safety restrictions of the Chapel Hill Country Club. That forced us to move the race in 2013 and find a new home for our event. We had hoped to locate it on the campus of the University of North Carolina, but the amount of construction on campus and roadway restrictions made that impossible (and now their outdoor pool is closed!).

sfs2Our top priority for a new venue was safety and nearly as important was growth potential so we don’t have to move it again for a while – with Briar Chapel, we found both!

Open to kids from ages 5-18 (yes, now 5-year olds can participate), the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon is a USA-Triathlon sanctioned event and includes two courses for ALL levels of participants. In addition, we have a limited number of relay teams made up of kids of any and all ages (one kid will swim, another bike and the third will run the course — all relay participants and teams will do the Long Course).

So, go register NOW here:

Are You Ready For Spring 2013 Season of the Thundercats Triathlon Team?

Thundercats SFS-TriMultisport TeamRegistration for the Spring 2013 season of the Thundercats youth triathlon team run by Triangle Multisport and Swim for Smiles is now active!

We have an exciting schedule planned and will stick to practices on Wednesday evenings from 5-6 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 3-4:30 p.m., with the first practice on Sunday March 3 and going through Wednesday May 22.

The price will also stay the same as last year at only $350. We again bring an outstanding coaching staff to lead the team of 6-12 year olds. The only requirements are that the child be able to swim one length of the pool without stopping or assistance and ride a bike without training wheels.

Registration can be found here:

A TENTATIVE schedule can also be found on the site. I hope to see many of you again in March! If you have any questions or concerns please let me know!


USA Triathlon Level II coach
UNC Triathlon Team head coach
TMS-SFS Youth Triathlon Team head coach
ACSM Health Fitness Specialist
USA Cycling certified coach

RunFest Canceled, But We Still Want To Give Back

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we have to cancel the RunFest. We apologize for this last minute notice, but we just made the decision to cancel the event last Friday. We had no alternatives.

However, we’ve decided to do a gift delivery to the hospitals instead. So, wrap up a $20-$25 toy and read on…

We still want to give back to the hospital – as is our tradition for the Swim for Smiles Foundation. So in lieu of the race, we will be delivering wrapped holiday toys to both the North Carolina Children’s Hospital and the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center on Sunday Dec. 16th – the day we had planned to hold the race.

So, if you planned to race, please consider joining us at the TOP LEVEL of the Craig Parking Deck on the campus of the University of North Carolina at 9 a.m., Dec. 16, when we will deliver these presents to the kids in the hospital. A campus map and location of the Craig Parking Deck is here, marked “CD” on this map:

Again, we apologize for the cancelation of this event. However, this toy drive will allow kids to help kids – our mission.

We realize the excitement your kids may have had around our RunFest, and we hope they will join us for the Toy Delivery on Dec. 16th as an alternative way to give back to the hospital.

Thank you,

Gary Kayye
Swim for Smiles Foundation

Announcement: 2012 Greensboro Triathlon CANCELED

We’re sad to announce that the Greensboro Triathlon has been canceled for 2012 due to scheduling conflicts.

We apologize to those that had hoped to participate this year — but it just means that we’re going to try to make it better than ever in 2013!

SFS Youth Triathlon in the News!

The Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon wouldn’t be The Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon if it weren’t for the hard work friends, family, volunteers, community businesses, Chapel Hill and Carrboro town officials — and especially the kids — put into making this event an amazing success.

In all this celebrating, let’s not forget those that have helped spread the word about the triathlon — and even showed up to help us document all the fun and energy.

The Swim for Smiles Team would like to say thanks to all the news organizations that came out on Sunday to support us!

Here’s a snapshot of their coverage:

From News 14 Carolina

Huge thanks to News 14 Carolina’s Linnie Supall who captured the heart of the triathlon on video and wrote up a story on the event. Find the story and watch the video here.

From Chapel Hill Magazine

Chapel Hill Magazine featured the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon in the People & Places section of their publication. Thank you, Briana Brough for your spectacular photos of the event!

Also, check out how Chapel Hill Weekly “covered” the triathlon

From Chapelboro

If you haven’t had your fill of triathlon photos yet, Ran Northam of Chapelboro took about 30 photos at the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon.

We also greatly appreciated the Swim for Smiles PSA from WCHL that went out during the three days leading up Sunday’s triathlon.

Finally, Chapelboro blogger Sarah Shapard in her own way writes about how the triathlon serves as a compassionate example of people humbly giving back.

The Carrboro Citizen

Thanks for helping to spread the word about the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon in the days leading up to the event! We really appreciate the support!

Don't See Your Coverage?! Never fear!
Are you a news organization that covered the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon? Let us know! Email so that we can feature your news stories, too!

Official 2012 SFS Race Results Posted!

UPDATED 5/8/2012: In the Races & Events section, we now have COMPLETE race results

  • Short Course Overall
  • Long Course Overall
  • Relay Results
  • Short Course by Age Group
  • Long Course by Age Group

Here are the first set of results from yesterday’s race. These include both the Long and Short Course Overall results as well as a separate listing of the results for the Relay Teams.

We are proud of each and every participant and remember, with the sport of triathlon, just finishing is a victory!

We hope you had as much fun watching the race as we did and hope you’ll bookmark May 18-19, 2013 as that’s the tentative date for our 2013 race!

Click here to view results from past races.

Triathlon Start Times Are Posted!

We’re ready! We have just posted the Start Times for every participant registered in our 6th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon in Chapel Hill, NC on Sunday, May 6th.

We’ve posted them by Last Name as well as in order of the Race, which is:


  • Participants doing BOTH Short Course and Long Course races
  • 2 minute break
  • Short Course Racers
  • 20 minute break
  • Relay Participants (Teams)
  • 2 minute break
  • Long Course Racers
Based on our current timeline of the day, we will start the AWARDS ceremony at 10:45am!