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Canoe/kayak national championships begin Thursday on Lake Lanier
Kayakers make their way up the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue Tuesday afternoon during a practice session for the upcoming USACK Sprint Nationals on Thursday. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times
USACK Sprint National Championships
Where: Lanier Olympic Venue
When: Thursday-Sunday beginning at 8 a.m.
TV: Live video coverage will be streamed each day on the LCKC Channel. Log on to for more information.


It was only weeks ago that the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club found out they would be playing host to the 2009 USACK (USA Canoe/Kayak) Sprint National Championships: an event that was originally supposed to be in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

“Well, we were close in proximity to Oak Ridge and have a great infrastructure in place, so the USACK reached out to us,” said LCKC President Loren Collins. “The downside was that we had to squeeze a year’s worth of work into 4-5 weeks.”

Among the many things that had to be done was organizing and putting in the race course on Lake Lanier: an endeavor Collins could only describe as “quite laborious.”

The LCKC also had to get security boats, food vendors and secure a place for the Championships’ banquet and awards ceremony.

But it turns out that lot was the least of the club’s worries.

“The biggest challenge was lining up volunteers,” Collins said. “It being during the school year put a damper on our volunteer base.

“Luckily, however, the community reached out to us and came through.”

The end result of the weeks of work can be seen this morning as paddlers take to the water to prove who’s the best in the nation.

Over 300 athletes from approximately seven states — among them Hawaii, New York, Washington, California, Oklahoma and Illinois — and Washington D.C. have been slowly trickling into Gainesville all week to practice on the water on which they will compete.

“This week will have a pretty significant economic impact on the community,” Collins said.

As well as a significant impact on the way the Olympic Venue is viewed nationally and globally.

“This week is a testament to the legacy program from the 1996 Olympics,” Collins said. “It shows that within the canoe/kayak community this is a respectable site.

“I mean, as long as we have water in the lake we’re good to go and not a lot of places can say that,” he added.

While the LCKC has shown its worth on the national level before, with the likes of Morgan House, Tim Hornsby and Emily Mickle competing for the U.S. National Sprint team; it will do so once again this weekend.

Of the over 300 athletes competing, approximately 80 are products of the legacy program at the Olympic Venue, known as the LCKC.

“We’re the largest club in the country,” Collins said. “And this (weekend) is how we find out who the top dog is.”

Championship medals will not only be given out for individual performances — with gold, silver and bronze going to the top three competitors in each event in each division — but trophies will be given to the top clubs in each division, and one will be given to the best club overall.

The banquet and awards ceremony will take place Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Gainesville.
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