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Jul. 24, 2017
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LCKC to host USACK Team Trials

By Jane Harrison
 
For the second consecutive year, the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club will host, organize and put paddlers between the buoys in the USA Canoe/Kayak Flatwater Sprint National Team Trials. Athletes from around the country will compete for spots on the Senior, Junior or Paracanoe National Team in the trials May 20-21 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.
 
“We are very fortunate to be hosting this year’s event and to have 19 of our hometown athletes competing” said Tracy Barth, president of LCKC and coordinator of the event. “Our athletes have been training hard all year for this event, sometimes practicing 15-20 hours per week. This is where all of that hard work pays off.”
 
Athletes have the option of competing in 1000, 500 and 200 meter races. USACK Flatwater National Sprint Team officials will select members based on their results.
 
LCKC Head Coach Kalen Scholz, who is also Vice Chair of the USACK Sprint Coaches Association, said the trials show coaches how their high level athletes measure up against others around the nation. It will also give some of LCKC’s juvenile category paddlers a chance to “get on the line and race against top competitors in a high stakes environment,” she said.
 
The LCKC trials squad consists mostly of junior and senior athletes, but Scholz is putting in some 15-16 year olds to get racing experience. Most teams traveling long distances, such as those from California, will send only elite junior and seniors; but with the regatta on home waters, LCKC plans to broaden its race roster.
 
“There’s definitely a home advantage,” Scholz said, when paddlers race at a familiar venue and don’t have to fork out travel dollars. It saves money for potential international championships later this summer, she said.
 
Athletes selected for the Team USA qualify to compete in Hungary, Serbia, Czech Republic or Romania for various events, including the 2017 Canoe Sprint World Championships and World Cup. LCKC trials participants are “very excited … especially those who are really serious. There’s a lot riding on” their races, the coach said. She added that about 8-10 are aiming for national team berths. Others, including juvenile classification athletes, are focusing on the USACK National Championship in Florida in August and the Olympic Hopes Regatta in the Czech Republic in September.
 
Scholz put 28 team members through intense training last month at spring break camp in Clermont, Fla. The squad of mostly high performance athletes hit it hard with on-the-water speed work, cross-training, and race-preparedness drills in thrice a day practices.
 
Scholz expects some to qualify for the national team this month in front of LCKC members and supporters volunteering their time to run the event. Having the event at home means more work for the club, which is recruiting volunteers to help out.

Posted online 5/1/17
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