This summer, Rye Tri Club member Jeremy Fand decided to find and reach out to his birth mother, who had given him up for adoption after he was born 47 years ago. After finding his mother he discovered his brother Darrin Schwenkbeck, of Plattsburgh, was becoming a tri-athlete and preparing to compete in the Lake Placid Ironman Competition in Lake Placid.
Fand, a New Rochelle resident, tracked his brother live on the Ironman website and then called his mother for the first time the next day. He got to speak to her and Schwenkbeck for the first time in his life and find out that his brother had just recommitted himself to health and fitness.
Upon learning that Fand was a tri-athlete, Schwenkbeck said he was
inspired to sign up for the Westchester Triathlon and continue his training.
The two brothers met for the first time in Buffalo in August and one month
later completed the Westchester Triathlon in Rye together.
Read Schwenkbeck’s account here (thanks to Nancy Rieger for sending this account by Schwenkbeck):
"I have a brother and he's a triathlete"
After a short career as a professional angler competing on
ESPN's Bassmaster "Elite" Series and a life of traveling, eating
poorly, and neglecting my physical well being I decided to start running as I
once did when I was a kid. I had once wanted to run a marathon, but let that
dream slip away. I was a good hockey player, the slowest runner on a good
cross-country team, and a horrible wrestler in high school. As time went by I
stopped taking care of myself and finally made the decision to do something
about it. I lost over 40lbs in four months, ran 3 half marathons and one full
I was competing in a big bass tournament on Lake Champlain and had a great day - I made a long run and caught the biggest limit of bass I have ever caught in competition. A mechanical break down, however, did not allow me to get back and win. It was a sure win! I went home frustrated and defeated. That frustration in the tournament freed me up to go to Lake Placid the next day to watch a triathlon. The next morning I witnessed the most amazing spectacle in all of sports - the swim leg of a triathlon. With a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat, I was captivated by the event and it drew me in like a bass on the end of my line. I knew I had to do it! I watched a guy that had wrecked his bike and finished the Ironman with blood from head to toe and an elbow and knee that looked like gun shot wounds. He was an animal and I instantly idolized him.
The event was exhilarating. I was charged and felt like I did when the US Hockey Team beat the Russians in 1980 or after seeing Rocky beat Apollo Creed. Full of inspiration and motivation, I waited by the computer the next day till noon to try for one of a few spots left for Ironman Lake Placid. I didn't even know how to swim but figured I could learn. I received confirmation of my entry and then a sense of fear came over me - "what the hell am I thinking!"
I borrowed my friend’s road bike that was too big for me, kept running, and joined a master swim program. I trained hard at times, but not smart. I received only tidbits of information from some locals who had tried to do Ironman and made my own training plan. I swam 2.4 miles once, biked over 100 miles once, and ran a long run of only 16 miles two weeks before the race. I was set up for disaster and felt it from the halfway point of the bike leg on. With blisters on both feet and severe pain in my neck and back I pushed on to become an Ironman! I just couldn't quit with my son, 92 year old grandmother, my mom, and friends watching. There was someone else watching too... a brother that I never met. (Jeremy had recently discover our mom’s name and found out about me doing the Ironman via a Facebook post).
My Ironman finish was meant to inspire my son and be a step towards other accomplishments in my own life. But boy did I not feel like I wanted to tackle triathlons again! That was until the next day when my mother returned a call she saw on her cell phone.
It was Jeremy - my half brother who was given up for adoption at birth - he found us! Funny thing is, Mom always knew in her heart that he would. My life changed - along with that thought of one tri and done. Discovering my brother and that he also is into triathlons has inspired me - much the same way he's inspired so many friends and people in his community to get into triathlon.
He grew up playing ice hockey and running just like me. Our mom was an unbelievable speed skater when she was young. Is that stuff inherited? There is no way I can put this sport behind me now. The timing of this reunion, the similarities, common interests, and stories... I have a brother and he's a triathlete! He's passionate about the sport like I am about competitive fishing and was about hockey. The positive attitude, focus, and commitment of the people in this sport is unbelievable. Why would I quit now? It's the best drug one can find.
While in the beer line at the Westchester Triathlon I met a lady who's son finished the race. She told me that his company sponsored his tri team by paying their entries etc... What a great concept and incentive! Healthy, energetic employees with positive attitudes that thrive on team work. That's the real deal. This sport has so many inspiring stories of dedication and overcoming the odds. This sport lives and thrives! From the minute Jeremy and I arrived in the transition area it seemed everyone knew my brother. I met so many people that I barely had time to get my gear ready before getting kicked out. He's got the gift of gab like my mom and I. It must be hereditary. I shared a great weekend with my brother, his family, his friends along with the whole triathlon community. He waited for me like any big brother and we finished the race together. I have a brother and he's a triathlete!
- Darrin Schwenkbeck