Racing on its home course with around 30 more participants than any other club, the Lanier Canoe and Kayak team believes it has a strong chance to win its 10th USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championship.
After finishing first in seven events on the first day of the three-day event, LCKC is right where it wants to be.
"We're doing well," LCKC developmental coach Kalen Lee said Thursday at the venue at Clarks Bridge Park. "If we can get through the first day, we can get through the event."
Robert Finlayson and Stanton Collins each came away with multiple national titles for LCKC, with both winning individual and team competitions. Finlayson, who won gold in the C-1 (one-person canoe) senior 1,000-meter, teamed up with Alejandro Schwedhelm to win the C-2 senior 1,000-meter race, That duo joined Ben Hefner and Ian Ross to win the C-4 Senior 1,000-meter race. Hefner also finished second in the C-1 Senior race.
Collins won the K-1 Junior 1,000-meter and the K-2 Junior 1,000-meter with Tanner Easterday, who finished third in the K-1 Junior event.
Along with first-place finishes in the aforementioned events, LCKC also won the Men's and Women's C-4 Juvenile 1,000 events. Tim Folsom, Riley Brunner, Dillon Kimsey and Lucas Standridge won the men's event, while Lydia Skolrood, Ashlyn Balch, Ariana Hall and Laddy Goldsmith won gold in the women's race.
Blistering conditions didn't make winning those events easy, but at least the athletes representing LCKC were used to paddling in 90-plus degree heat.
The same can't be said for the team representing the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club.
"We're used to 70 degrees with no humidity," SCKC coach Neil Bransfield said. "In paddling, the courses are all uniform so that doesn't matter, but we train all year in our conditions, then have to compete in events in places like Oklahoma and Gainesville."
Even with the obvious disadvantage, Bransfield doesn't think heat will decide which team wins the team title.
"I think everyone's paddling under the same conditions, but some may be more acclimated," he said. "With conditions like this, you have to worry about hydration and heat exhaustion.
"We had two kids go to the medical tent, but it was nothing severe."
With forecasts calling for temperatures in the 90s again today and Saturday, the coaches will continue to have to monitor their athletes on and off the course.
"It's been hot," Lee said. "We have to get the kids to drink a lot of water, especially the kids from out of town."
Staying hydrated will be key for the visiting clubs to keep pace with LCKC, which has around 30 more athletes than the next largest participating club.
"We definitely have the home team advantage," Lee said. "But those teams who lack quantity, have quality."
When the LCKC wasn't winning races, it was coming close, which was evident by its four second-place finishes and six third-place finishes.
Finishing second for LCKC were: Daniel Burchardt, Chance Bloomer, Graham Roper and Emerson Smith in the Men's K-4 Juvenile 1,000; Morgan Smith and Cannie Ash in the Women's K-2 Senior 1,000; Max Roberts, Michael Olson, Jonathan Olson and Noah Williamson in the Men's C-4 Juvenile 1,000; and Gracyn Potter, Saylor Sniatecki, Mary McGarry and Gabi Diaz in the Women's C-4 Juvenile 1,000.
Placing third for LCKC were: Roper, Collins, Easterday and Aaron Mulican in the Men's K-4 Junior 1,000; Emily Mickle and Emily Vinson in the Women's K-2 Senior 1,000; Austin Cash, Oliver Ceska, Cole Burchardt and Baxter Geyer in the Men's C-4 Juvenile 1,000; Roper and Smith in the in Men's K-2 Juvenile 1,000; Elle Hefner and Karrena Paul in the Women's K-2 Juvenile 1,000; John DePalma, Luke Potts, Chris Miller and Morgan House in the Men's K-4 Senior 1,000; Geyer, Riley Brunner, Williamson and James Watson in the Men's C-4 Junior 1,000, Farran Smith in the Women's C-1 Bantam 1,000, House in the Men's K-1 Senior 1,000; and the team of Dylan Mays Easterday, Cole Burchardt, Folsom and Jonathan Olson in the Men's K-4 Bantam 1,000.
The USACK National Championships continue at 8 a.m. today and feature the 500-meter races.