Important Announcement About the 8th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon


It is with heavy hearts and and much regret that we must announce the cancelation of the 2014 Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon, originally scheduled for September 7, 2014.

The Swim for Smiles Foundation is an all-volunteer non-profit that was established in 2005 for the purpose of raising money for N.C. Children’s Hospital through kids’ athletic events and our youth triathlon has become our flagship event. In fact, our triathlon has been recognized three times, by the readers of Endurance Magazine, as their favorite youth event in North Carolina and have been recognized by USA Triathlon as the primary driver for the growth of youth triathlon in the state.

However, in the past two years, nine new youth triathlons have launched in and around the Triangle area and, being a non-profit run by volunteers that mostly also have unrelated full time jobs, we can’t compete with for-profit triathlons run by paid staff. Based on current registrations, we would likely lose $22,000 to $28,000 this year if we held the event.

All the volunteers here at Swim for Smiles are deeply saddened by having to cancel this year’s event and the decision to cancel did not come easily. We agonized over for weeks and attempted to find a financial partner or sponsor to help defray the costs, but the economic conditions of the past few years have put a strain on everyone.

However, we are not disappearing. The Swim for Smiles Foundation plans on working with the the local schools to integrate a mandatory “learn to swim” program for all kids. Over 3000 kids drown each year in the US alone. We hope you will support our efforts to implement such a life-saving program.

And, for those of you looking for a local youth triathlon to participate in in lieu of our event, please consider the Tar Heel Youth Triathlon. We know the organizers personally and they put on a top-notch event.

Thank you,

The Swim for Smiles Foundation

CHM Feature’s SFS in its People & Places

Chapel Hill Magazine and THE WEEKLY recently featured us in its People & Places section.

The feature originally appears here.

All Smiles


The seventh annual Swim for Smiles youth triathlon was held Sunday at Briar Chapel and raised tens of thousands of dollars for N.C. Children’s Hospital. About 520 children ages 5 to 19 biked, swam and ran for a good cause. The event has grown each year since its inception and raised more than $200,000 total.

See all CHM’s photos from the event here.

Youth, charity served at Chapel Hill triathlon

We were recently featured by the News & Observer’s Kyle Jahner.

Jahner came our to our 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon this past weekend, Sept. 8, 2013. Read his story below, which originally appears here.

Youth, charity served at Chapel Hill triathlon

By Kyle Jahner

CHAPEL HILL — Like a father needing to buy a bigger bike for a growing child, the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon shifted to a bigger locale for its seventh edition.

But the core didn’t change: Tens of thousands of dollars raised and hundreds of competitors pouring sweat – and in cases blood and tears – into a morning of swimming, biking and running.

More than 520 youngsters aged five to 19 participated in the event concocted from Gary Kayye’s love of triathlons and his gratitude for the hospital that saved his daughter’s life. This year the Briar Chapel neighborhood south of Chapel Hill hosted what Kayye said will likely be the second largest youth triathlon in the country.

As it has grown over the years, the race – with its motto “kids helping kids” – has raised more than $200,000 for children’s hospitals, most of it going to the N.C. Children’s Hospital.

At the hospital in Chapel Hill, Kayye’s daughter was diagnosed at age four with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a rare neurological disorder. She was treated for nine weeks. She survived and is now 17.

“That’s a life-changing experience. A doctor at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital saved her life, so it made me want to give back to that hospital at some point in time,” Kayye said. “When I got involved in triathlons, that’s when I started noticing kids (didn’t have their own triathlons) – and I put two and two together.”

Continue reading and view his awesome pictures here.

NC host one of US’s largest youth triathlons

News 14 Carolina’s Carly Swanson came out to our 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon this past weekend, Sept. 8, 2013.

Her original story appears here.

NC hosts one of US’s largest youth triathlons

By: Carly Swanson

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–In a triathlon, whether you like the swimming part, biking, running or free ice cream at the end, there is one thing about the Swim for Smiles youth triathlon that no one is on the fence about.

The 7th annual Swim for Smiles triathlon made waves in North Carolina on Sunday and it is one of the largest youth triathlons in the United States.

This event is also something Swim for Smiles foundation co-founder Gary Kayye said “is going to be one of those days the swimmers will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Kayye started the event as a way to give back to the N.C. Children’s Hospital, after his daughter battled a serious illness. She and the event are doing well today.

The triathlon the first kids only race in North Carolina and gives youth a chance, even if they are not able to swim, bike or run.

“I love seeing the kids getting involved in the sport and at the same time helping the kids at the children’s hospital,” Kayye said.

- Continue reading here.

CHM’s Weekend Best Bets

We’ve made Chapel Hill Magazine’s Weekend Best Bets!

This weekend’s best bets originally appears here.

Photo by: Briana Brough

Photo by: Briana Brough

Sabrina and Sydney Thompson at the 2012 Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon.

Sunday, September 8

8am: The seventh annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon – held for the first time in the fall – offers a new, wider course in Briar Chapel to accommodate more participants. Registration ($65-$150) 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 North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Visit the website or call (919) 969-7501 for more information.

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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Click to Enlarge


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:

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!

WCHL Features Swim for Smiles in PSA

WCHL’s talented Ross Maloney recorded a PSA for the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon happening this Sunday! Tune into WCHL (1360 AM or 97.9 FM). If you’re listening between 6 – 9 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m. now through Sunday, you’re almost sure to hear it!

Thanks, WCHL, for helping us spread the word!

But just in case you want a listen before that happens, we’ve got it for you here!

Get excited, everyone! Only three more days until the race!


Youth Athletes Compete in Swim for Smiles Triathlon [Video]

Youth Athletes Compete in Swim for Smiles Triathlon