Farmington's Aaron Lane is an up-and-coming pentathlete
Aaron Lane has spent the last seven months honing his skills in all the disciplines required of a 19th-century soldier.
But the 16-year-old son of Bob and Bobbi Lane of Farmington isn't some overly-dedicated Civil War reenactor. He's a pentathlete. The modern pentathlon features fencing, equestrian show jumping, a combination of running and shooting, and swimming, all of which Baron Pierre de Courbertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games, believed represented the necessary skills for battle.
Lane, a four-year member of the Tiger swimming and diving team, had never shot at targets or fenced before he attended a clinic last fall at the Minnesota Sword Club in Minneapolis. He competed in his first pentathlon in Colorado in December, then after returning to Farmington to finish the school year, headed back to Denver to train for a couple of weeks in preparation for the Youth National Pentathlon Championships in Colorado Springs.
Lane caught on to the new events quickly and placed fourth in the competition at the Olympic Training Center, earning him a spot on the eight-member 18-under team that will travel to Istanbul, Turkey, to compete in the UIPM Youth A World Championships Aug. 18-21.
"I've improved a lot. My swimming is basically the same, my running has gotten better and my shooting has improved a lot. My fencing is on its way to being great," Lane said. "My coach said (going to Istanbul) will be a great experience. I've never been out of the country before, so it should be a new challenge. I'm very excited."
Lane has always been active, but the workouts he's been going through to prepare for his pentathlons have been at a completely different level.
After he got back from his first pentathlon in December, he returned to practice with the Farmington swimming and diving team. On the side, he lifted weights, ran, attended shooting practices and rode horses once a week.
When the school year ended, he returned to Denver where he began an even more grueling schedule. Lane swims from 9 to 11 in the morning, fences from 1 to 5, then practices shooting for 45 minutes before finishing off his day with a run.
"Then I take a very long nap," he said.
Lane placed 17th out of 23 athletes his first pentathlon in December. He was 12th before the equestrian event, which he didn't compete in because he hadn't yet learned how to ride a horse.
Lane said the equestrian competition is often excluded from youth pentathlons.
A few weeks later, Lane got an e-mail saying his showing had qualified him for the World Cup in Palm Springs, Calif., but he opted to skip the competition and focus his attention on training.
The decision paid off. Lane said he felt much more prepared for his second pentathlon in July. He started the competition by placing third in fencing, then swam a personal-best time to finish sixth in the 200. He also ran a personal-best time in the 3,000-meter run and said his shooting was vastly improved.
The only regret Lane had about his performance was that he couldn't seem to beat any girls in the fencing competition.
"Fencing was going very, very well. I was beating most of the guys there. Then I had to fence all the girls and I lost to almost all of them," he said. "I seemed to have a mental block on beating girls. Some of them had only been playing a few days and I was losing on very simple touches that I should have countered."
On the plus side, he made $5.
"Me and my friend had a bet going on who would make it," he said. "I got fourth (the final qualifying spot) and he got fifth, so I got five bucks."
Fencing and target shooting are quickly becoming new favorite events for the long-time swimmer.
"I used to watch old medieval movies, but I never actually picked up a sword for myself. And I was never into shooting at all. My dad didn't really approve of guns and I didn't either," he said. "I think fencing is a great sport for everyone. My coach is close to 80 and she's still kicking my butt. You can do it at any age and it's great for hand-eye coordination. Shooting, you really have to focus and relax to hit the target."
The diversity of skills needed to be successful is what draws Lane to the pentathlon.
"I like it because everyone is different. Everyone has their own weaknesses and strengths. In one sport you don't get to see that," he said. "When you have five different, unique sports you have to do, it shows you what you need to improve on. It makes you focus on what you need to do to get better."