Matthew Chapman expected the worst.
The then Sarasota Military Academy sophomore knew his mom, Nicole, wasn’t kidding around; this time she meant business.
So, when the two climbed into the car last spring and headed toward the beach, Chapman had a feeling he wouldn’t be having fun in the sun.
Instead, the two were headed out to an early-morning practice with the Sarasota Storm Tri Club — the first of many practices during the eight-week camp.
Nicole Chapman, who is the president of the Sarasota Storm Tri Club, had signed her son up for the camp as punishment for missed homework assignments and bad grades.
And, unbeknownst to him, he was scheduled to compete in the Top Gun Triathlon, at Fort De Soto Park, at the end of the camp.
Chapman, who had no triathlon experience, aside from assisting Alex Miller in the Florida International Triathlon 2012 as a relay, woke up early every Saturday morning and participated in grueling workouts.
But, aside from occasionally giving his mom a hard time about the training, he took it all in stride and learned the value of hard work.
“It was OK,” Chapman says. “From a physical fitness standpoint, at least I was getting something out of it.
It was much easier than I thought it would be. It was good experience with physical fitness.”
“I wanted him to learn what hard work and dedication is,” Nicole Chapman says.
His hard work and dedication paid off. He finished eighth in the 15- to 19- year-old age group at last year’s Top Gun Triathlon.
Now, Matthew is gearing up for his second Top Gun Triathlon — this time without the added pressure.
Matthew will compete in the Top triathlon July 27, at Fort De Soto Park. This time around, he is going into the event with little training. He has participated in a few open-water swims and training sessions with the Sarasota Storm Tri Club.
“It’s more on my own will,” Chapman says. “It’s nothing hard. I make the best of them. I’m not the type of kid who is going to sandbag it. If I’m going to do it, I at least want to get something out of it.”
After wearing a black speedo last year, he hopes his new gold speedo will help him match or break last year’s time of one hour, six minutes.
“Wearing a black speedo is one thing, but now I have to do something more fantastic,” he says. “I dare to be different.”
He’ll be one of more than 25 Sarasota Storm triathletes competing in the Top Gun Triathlon.
Founded in 2005 through the YMCA, the Sarasota Storm Tri Club became its own entity in 2007. Today, the club is home to roughly 200 active members, ranging from 11-year-old children to individuals in their 80s.
The club’s season runs from April to November, and members often travel across the country to compete.
“The sport is really exploding,” Nicole Chapman says. “We like to be a good home base for people to meet other people to train with. We’re trying to grow the sport with the younger kids, too. It’s a good experience to know what physical hard work and dedication is.”
For more information on the Sarasota Storm Tri Club visit sarasotastorm.org.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].