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Learn to skim the surface in a kayak or canoe

Last week, the Pan American Championships brought the excitement of canoe and kayak racing to Gainesville. Several athletes who train with the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club competed, but the club — and other groups in the area — offer more recreational activities throughout the year.

One of those opportunities is an adult Learn to Kayak course through Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club.

“A lot of what we do at the club is focused on racing, and certainly that’s our core, but we want to expand,” said David Haack, who will teach the Learn to Kayak course next week.

The six-hour course covers basic paddling skills, water safety and exposure to different kinds of boats. Students will learn about recreational kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards.

“For those who are a little more adventurous, we have some trainer boats,” he said.

Trainer boats are entry-level sprint boats. They have a rudder the paddlers control with their feet, Haack said.

Haack did not get involved in paddling himself until his children started the sport.

After bringing them to practice so often, he decided to give it a try. He then joined the Masters program at the club. Since then, he served as president of the LCKC in 2013 and a beginner racing league youth coach.

Lee Cole took the Learn to Kayak class about five years ago and is an avid paddler now. He said he wanted to get into leisure kayaking and came across the program at LCKC.

“It was more fun and kind of an escape from work and day-to-day life because you cannot think about anything else while you’re kayaking,” he said.

Cole encourages anyone on the fence about taking the class to give it shot.

“I’ve loved it enough that for five years I drive an hour each way,” the Cumming resident said.

The four upcoming classes will be offered:

* 6-7:30 p.m. June 1, 3, 8 and 10

* 6-7:30 p.m. June 21 and 23 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 25

* 6-7:30 p.m. July 12, 14, 19 and 21

* 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 13 and 20

The class costs $90 per session.

The LCKC is not the only group willing to teach North Georgia residents about kayaking. The Lake Lanier Association is also offering a free Kayaking 101 class to members who have kayaks and would like some help learning to stay safe on the water.

The class will be taught by an ACA certified instructor from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at Mary Alice Park, 1820 Mary Alice Park Road, in Cumming. Advance reservations are required.

Haack said the Learn to Kayak course is a good way to learn some basics before people get on the water on their own and it’s a good introduction to LCKC.

If participants of the LCKC Learn to Kayak course want to continue paddling afterward, the Masters program is an option. The Masters program is focused on sprint racing. It’s open to paddlers age 25 and older.

“These people are the ones that like to go faster, try tippier boats so it’s definitely a different boat than the rec boat,” Haack said. “It’s for people who like the speed and the feel of going fast.”

The Masters program practices several times a week year-round and has opportunities to compete.

After taking the Learn to Kayak class, Cole fell in love with sprint kayaking and signed up for the Masters program.

“The Masters program … you can just have fun with it or you can be competitive,” he said. “Dave (Haack) and I tended to be a little more competitive, especially with each other.”

Rec memberships are also available at the LCKC, which allow members use of recreational boats, paddles and life jackets during open hours, moonlight paddles led by professional coaches at no additional cost and discounts on summer day camps.

“It’s never too late to get started,” Haack said of paddling. “(The Learn to Kayak course) is a good opportunity to get out there, to come enjoy the lake in a healthy environment and to get a little exercise.”

Related Content

Learn to kayak

Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club Learn to Kayak course

When: 6-7:30 p.m. June 1, 3, 8 and 10; 6-7:30 p.m. June 21 and 23 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 25; 6-7:30 p.m. July 12, 14, 19 and 21; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 13 and 20

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: $90 per session

More info: 770-287-7888 or www.lckc.org

Lake Lanier Association’s Kayaking 101

When: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7

Where: Mary Alice Park, 1820 Mary Alice Park Road, Cumming

Cost: Free to Lake Lanier Association members 15 years of age or older who have a kayak; reservations required and limited to 25 participants

More info: www.lakelanier.org/join-us-free-kayaking-101-seminar

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