Since November, Morgan House will have spent a total of 22 weeks in Hawaii on and off by the time his current stint there ends in a few weeks.
But it’s not vacation trips the 24-year-old Gainesville native is taking. In fact, he said he’d rather be in Gainesville with his fiance and family. However, he’s on a mission, along with his U.S. Canoe/Kayak National Team teammates, to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
So instead of waking up around noon, hitting the beach with a beverage in hand and watching hula dancers, House is up at 5:30 a.m. and in the water paddling by 7 a.m. Between paddling, working out and yoga, 6-7 hours of his day are occupied.
“We don’t do much touring,” House said. “It’s all business here.”
House admitted he and his teammates did take the 4th of July off to celebrate with a day on the beach. But it was back to training the next day.
The team is preparing for the National Championships, which will be held at Lake Lanier from Aug. 4-7. The event is the final tune-up before the real test Aug. 16 in Hungary, when the team competes in the World Championships, an Olympic qualifier.
“Really, the big picture is placing in the top 10 in at World,” House said. “But at Nationals, we want to place as high as we possibly can. We’re just going to keep on doing what we’re doing, then taper for the World Championships so we can peak.”
House trains in Hawaii because that’s where the best water temperatures are. It’s essentially the perfect climate for training because the weather is 80 degrees year-round — as opposed to the sweltering humidity and 90-degree weather in Georgia. Also, the National Team coach, Guy Wilding, lives in Hawaii.
Staying in Hawaii for extended periods of time goes against the tight budget the national team is already on. House and his teammates rely heavily on the generosity of others and are getting a big lift from the Perrin family, who resides in Hawaii.
“They run a concrete pumping company, and half of the office has been converted to a condo,” House said. “Greg Perrin offered to help us out, free of charge, out of the kindness of his heart.”
House describes the help as invaluable because the Perrins have saved them thousands of dollars.
“Without their help, I’m not sure we could have stayed here because of the expenses,” House said. “We’ve been able to make this happen because of them, and we plan on qualifying in August, which we couldn’t have done if we hadn’t been here.”
Being in Hawaii allows the team to train with Wilding as a cohesive unit. In the past, House and the team have been shouldered with the burden of training separately or constantly traveling back and forth. That makes competing with some of the world’s best paddlers nearly impossible.
But with a solid 22 weeks of training together as a team, House and company are primed for a chance to qualify for the Olympics. If they are unable to qualify at the World Championships in Hungary, they’ll have a final chance to qualify at an event in Guadalajara, Mexico in October.
For now though, it’s back to the grind in Hawaii.
“I enjoy it out here,” House said, “but I miss home in general. Everybody says I’m crazy for choosing Georgia over Hawaii, but I miss home.”