Three Cape youths go to Olympic trials
Three rowers from the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club will travel to Georgia this week to participate in the U.S. Olympic trials in hope of competing this summer in the Junior World Championships.
Cape Coral residents Chloe Mitchell, Trent Cody and Tucker Goetz will compete at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga., where the Olympic rowing events were held during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The Olympic trials will begin Thursday.
All three will vie for a spot on the Junior National Team in kayaking, in singles and doubles, as well as a chance to travel to Belarus in August for the bi-annual World Junior Championships.
They all made their qualifying times to reach nationals. The team will be announced at the conclusion of the event on April 30.
Melinda Mack said it is the first time the club has participated in team trails after spending a little more than two years on the water at the club Mack operates on the shores of Lake Kennedy here in the Cape.
“All three are on our performance team, our highest level, and they work out five days a week in two-hour practices,” Mack said. “Most of them started out in our summer camp program.”
The three competitors have a common thread in that they competed in sports where they weren’t as competitive before joining Mack’s club.
Mitchell, 13, attends Oasis Middle School. She started kayaking two years ago after trying horseback riding, karate and gymnastics because she felt she wasn’t good enough at them, she said.
“My mom wanted me to get out and do something outside of school, so we got a flyer and my mom registered me,” Mitchell said. “It made me feel like I was good at something. I was happy when I learned I made nationals.”
Mitchell competes in the 200 and 500 meters, both sprint events, and did well in her last event in Sarasota, which was her first international regatta.
Cody, 14, a freshman at Ida Baker, also worked his way up from summer camp three years ago. He said he really wanted to kayak as an actual sport.
“I was watching people on YouTube and wanted to be like them. I used to play soccer and basketball and football for the North Fort Myers Red Knights,” Cody said, who competes in both and short- and long-distance events, from the 200 to 2,000 meters, all of which have different race plans.
Goetz, 14, a freshman at Oasis High School, was a soccer player, but when he discovered he was really good at paddling, he got hooked.
“I switched to kayaking immediately. It was more fun than I was having playing soccer so I decided to switch,” Goetz said, who has learned the intricacies of kayak doubles and will attempt to qualify in four events, three in doubles. “I was surprised to learn I had the times to qualify for a team with such prestige. This is such a step up.”
“We haven’t had much practice in doubles because we don’t have the boats or time to practice, but we’re learning.”
The U.S. National team will attend training camps in either Hungary or Romania in preparations for Junior Worlds.
The South Florida Canoe Kayak Club is a local non-profit paddlesport venue that has a strong focus on developing athletes in the sport of flatwater sprint canoe and kayak.