To kick off the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics Feb. 12, students from the Kermit Nickerson School in Swanville took to the ice to experience curling during a visit to the Belfast Curling Club.

By Feb. 26, students hope to walk a total of 3,387 miles, the distance from Maine to Vancouver, British Columbia, and will hold their own Olympic Games at the school.

The school participates in the state program “Take Time,” which encourages exercise above and beyond what is provided in physical education classes, according to the school’s program coordinator, Cindy Boguen.

Two times a week the students walk together and the fifth-graders wear pedometers to log the mileage. In past years the students have walked to Tokyo and Mexico.

In addition to walking to Vancouver, the students also have been learning about the city and had the opportunity to visit the curling club as part of the unit, since curling is an Olympic event. The Belfast Curling Club is the only such club in Maine. Douglas Coffin visited the school to demonstrate the game prior to the children’s visit to the club.

The children had the chance to get on the ice and try the sport and also watched a game by members of Senior College.

On Feb. 26, the students will hold their own Olympics at the Swanville school. They will participate in snowshoeing, sledding, luge races, hockey and will compete in a biathlon. Inside, students will make Olympic medals and Canadian flags.

Members of the public also have the opportunity try curling during the club’s Olympic Curling Experience. The club will be open to the public from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26 and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Participants will receive on-ice skills instruction and get to play in a game. The cost is $10 per person for the three-hour experience. Advance signup is recommended; contact Ann Kirkpatrick at 322-9123.