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Young Edge: Paddlers race after greatness
Walker Peck starts an October morning paddling on foggy Lake Lanier.

Young Edge

Jessie Moose is a ninth-grader at North Hall High School. She is interning with The Times through a journalism class at the school. This year, look for Young Edge articles from Jessie about once a month. 

Different strokes

In an informal survey conducted in a classroom at North Hall High School, only 6 of 19 knew the difference between kayaking, canoeing and rowing.

Canoeing: Competitor kneels on one knee with one leg out and paddles forward. Requires more leg strength.

Kayaking: Competitor sits and paddles forward. Requires mostly upper body strength.

Rowing: Competitor uses two oars, faces backwards and uses legs to thrust and row the boat.

Source: Walker Peck

While high school students gather in the stands Friday nights cheering on their favorite football teams, kayakers are on the lake preparing for their next races.

The water sport may seem forgotten by football fans.

Walker Peck, ninth-grader at North Hall High School, explains why fans should remember it.

“My favorite part about kayaking is the lake, being out on the water and the friendships that I have made,” Peck said. “I love the competitions because they are something that I can work for, but they can be very overwhelming sometimes”.

Peck has been kayaking and rowing since he was 9 and has competed in numerous races, both as an individual and on two- or four-person teams.

“It takes a long time to practice with each other to make the boat go as fast as possible,” Peck said. “... I would have to say I like individual events better because it gives me something to work really hard for, and it makes me feel more accomplished in myself”.

Nationals competition was held Aug. 5 in Oklahoma City, which is the headquarters of USA Canoeing and Kayaking. Peck received four first-place medals in the Bantam age group (11-14), including the four-person 1,000 meter, K2 two-person 1,000 meter, two-person 3,000 meter and K2 200-meter race. Peck will be participating in several races next year including USA Team Trials in April, club races and Summer Sprints, held a week before Nationals.

Fellow kayakers and Peck invest hours preparing for these races, including 24-30 hours a week in the spring and summer and 15-20 hours a week during the winter.

Practices are often held for two hours or more twice a day.

“On Sundays I go and paddle by myself to get extra practice,”’ Peck said.

Peck said he loves talking about this sport because most people don’t know a lot about it. He enjoys sharing his talents and gifts, and he wants to keep pursuing his dream at his upcoming races including Nationals in Florida next year.

Just like football teams across the country competing for the winning title in their sport, kayakers also are working hard to win the first place title in their sport.

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