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.

Updated Race Day Information Packets

We’re excited to announce that we’ve updated the race day information packets for the 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon! Please read the packet in its entirety and review it with your kid(s) to make sure they feel comfortable with the race course and details. The race is next weekend and we couldn’t be more excited!
See you on race day!

To view the short course race information packet click here.

To view the long course race information packet click 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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7th Annual SFS Triathlon Course Maps

We’ve mapped out the course for the 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon located in the Briar Chapel neighborhood. Click on the maps to see where each part of the race begins and ends. See each map below or here:

Short Course Swim Long Course Swim

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Short & Long Course Bike

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Short Course Run Long Course Run

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You can also find this information and more about the annual youth triathlon — everything from registration information to ways to get involved — here:

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

SFS Invites You To March With Us In the Chapel Hill Holiday Parade!

For the second year in a row, the Swim for Smiles Foundation is participating in the Chapel Hill Holiday Parade scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday, December 8th.

We want you to come march with us in the parade from 10 a.m. to Noon. We’ll have kids representing all three parts of a triathlon (you pick where you want to be).

  • Swimmers (bring your goggles – we’ll supply swim caps)
  • Bikers (bring your bike)
  • Runners (wear winter running gear!)

We have plenty of FREE Swim for Smiles t-shirts for you to put on over your clothes and we’ll supply tons of candy for you to throw to kids along the parade route.

Interested? Just show up in Chapel Hill at the intersection of Franklin Street and Henderson Street (in front of McAlister’s Deli) at 9:30 a.m. THIS SATURDAY!!! See you there!

Click to add this event to your calendar

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

Top Male Fundraiser Henry Benjamin Enjoys iPad!

Top fundraising boy Henry Benjamin excited about iPad prize

We just wanted to share with SFS supporters a picture of Henry Benjamin, top fundraising boy during this year’s Swim for Smiles FUNDays of Summer!

Every summer, the swim teams of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area participate in the Swim for Smiles FUNDays of Summer. The top fundraising boy and girl receive a grand prize (this year it was the new iPad), and the winning team receives the Wacky Relay Day trophy and an ice cream party sponsored by TCBY.

Congrats again to both fundraising champs — Henry and Daisy (check out Daisy’s story here) — and thanks for all your hard work!



Follow Swim for Smiles on Twitter and see what we’re up to on Facebook!

RunFest: On the Map!

You guessed it: we’ve mapped out each of the three running courses for RunFest located on the UNC Chapel Hill campus near Hooker and Fetzer Fields! Check it out:

1K Map 3K Map 5K Map

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You can also find this information and more about RunFest — everything from registration information to way to get involved — here:


Calling Local Businesses and Community Members!
If you’re a community member or business interested in donating or volunteering, email or