Narragansett’s Fred Bartlett proved beyond a doubt that is he one of the greatest athletes to come out of South County this past weekend.
He accomplished a rare feat in the highly competitive world of triathlons, winning the men’s overall title in back to back contests that featured world-class athletes.
If you stop and consider that 57-year old ‘Frantic Fred’ (the nickname given to him by the hundreds of athletes he has coached over the years as the South County YMCA Masters Swim Team Coach) posted the overall best time for male competitors in both the Save The Bay Swim with 250 participants, and the Tri Quonset Sprint Distance Triathlon with 115 top competitors, this is performance for the ages.
The most exciting contest was the showdown in the Save The Bay race, as Bartlett enjoyed a comfortable lead after battling heavy seas and strong currents for the 1.7 mile course.
As he headed for the final portion of the swim, top German competitor and coach Marcel Rabe put on a burst of speed, catching Bartlett as they neared the shoreline.
‘Frantic Fred’ then used his veteran skills to move into a series of dolphin dives as they hit the shallow water.
The 24-year old Rabe could not recover fast enough, as Bartlett sprinted across the finish line, beating him out by six seconds, the closest finish in the history of the event.
Officially, 16-year old Meg Flanagan of Jamestown posted the best overall time in the race.
She won the swim with a time of 38:48, while Bartlett was right behind at 39:17.
South Kingstown High School standouts Jackie and Kristin Karpowicz also had great showings, placing in fourth (40:39) and sixth (41:08), respectively.
Other local finishers in the top 25 included ninth place Dave Polatty of Narragansett (41:46), 14th place Brian McKenna of Narragansett (42:59), 17th place Zach Priest of Narragansett (43:31), and 21st place Diane Leith-Doucett (44:56).
On the very next day after winning the grueling race in Jamestown, Bartlett competed in the Tri Quonset Distance Triathlon at Rose Beach in North Kingstown.
While it was windy and rainy at the start of the bike section, things got hot as the sun popped out.
With much calmer waters to work with, Bartlett went to work again, this time winning the overall title in 56:58 over Wakefield’s Brian Sweenor.
There were other outstanding local performances as well.
Leith-Doucette, competing in the 30-34 years old female age group, topped the entire field of women with a time of 1:05:41.
This was her first ever overall win in her short triathlon career of only two years.
Ron Chofay of Narragansett placed third in the 50-54 years old men age group with a time of 1:03:56.
Peter Rumsey of Exeter took a fourth place in the highly competitive 45-49 years old men age group.
East Greenwich triathlete Henry Ritchotte placed sixth in the 55-59 years old men age group with a time of 1:11:07, while David Heskett of Kingston placed seventh in the same category with a time of 1:13:45.
John Carter of Narragansett finished 10th in the 55-59 year old men age group in 1:16:11. Finally, it was 15-year old rising local star Giggi Maylan winning the 0-19 years old women age group in a time of 1:18:19.
The next big event is the Crabman Sprint Triathlon, scheduled to run this Sunday. This is a fun event for South County/Charlestown area athletes and there are only 30 spots left.
Interested competitors can email firstname.lastname@example.org  for more information.
There are three other triathlons planned for the summer season.
On August 8th, the Wild Dog Sprint Triathlon will take place at Colt State Park. On September 8th, the Firmman Iron Triathlon will take place at the Narragansett Town Beach.
The final event is the South Country Triathlon, which will take place on the following weekend at Captain Wheeler State Beach. For more information, go to firm-racing.com.
Peter Pan is a freelance columnist for Southern Rhode Island Newspapers.