The winner of Saturday’s Splash, Roll and Run at the PARDS Fitness and Aquatics Center in Denham Springs is no stranger to competing in triathlons, and his experience paid off.

Will Kirkikis was one of 140 participants who took part in the mini-triathlon that included a 15-yard swim, 12-mile bike ride and 2-mile run.

“I’ve done at least five to seven a year for the past five years or so,” Kirkikis said. “I did track and cross country in high school, and I ran track in college at Springhill. That’s when I really started getting into it, toward the end of my senior year.”

Kirkikis hasn’t always finished first, but he felt like his chances for finishing at the top of the race were pretty good.

“I looked at the times for last year, and I knew I would be in the top few. Once we got on the bike and I caught the top few guys, I knew I could take them on. I’ve won a couple triathlons and came in second in a couple. You don’t know you win until they post the results, so you’re still running scared. It was a great race, the volunteers were nice, the course was well-marked — it was a lot of fun,” said Kirkikis.

Aquatics Director Courtney Stevens said participation in this year’s triathlon was consistent with previous years.

“We had about 140, which, with the heat, that’s a really good number. That’s about the same number we had last year,” she said.

Stevens said the Parks and Recreation of Denham Springs aquatics center offers a variety of services to patrons.

“In the aquatics center, we do lessons, swim team, and they also have fitness classes. Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do. We have a lot of classes, and it’s open seven days a week,” said Stevens.

PARDS Fitness Center Director Sandi McGrew said the triathlon came about three years ago because the center wanted to make use of all their facilities.

“We wanted to take advantage of the pool and put on a race that incorporated all the things we had to offer here at Parks and Rec. We had people from three different states who participated this year — people from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas,” she said.

Park Superintendent Gary Templeton said the aquatics center came about because of a need in the community.

“There are a lot of fitness centers in the area, but we offer a lot of things they don’t,” Templeton said. “We have a large population of seniors that a lot of other gyms don’t work with as much as we do.”

The fitness center makes it a point to look beyond physical fitness when teaching wellness to others.

“Parks and Rec had a lot of programs here geared towards the children, and we saw a need for programs that were very adult friendly,” McGrew said. “What we do here is not just about physical fitness. The programs we have here incorporate all the dimensions of wellness: social, vocational, spiritual, emotional and mental. We have a huge social dimension that goes on here. People are part of something here, they become friends, they have lunch together and they travel together.”