October 20th, 2020

Lethbridge has plenty of water-sports potential

By Jensen, Randy on December 26, 2019.

submitted by Lethbridge Sport Council

Water sport enthusiasts look to utilize the Alberta Summer Games to bring attention to the sport of canoe/kayak and their desire for river valley development.

The portion of the Oldman River that flows through Lethbridge became part of an urban parks system in the 1980s. The City of Lethbridge developed eight urban parks, 16-square kilometres in size, to create the third-largest urban park system in Canada.

A group of water enthusiasts, not-for-profit organizations and businesses are collaborating to pioneer a society in hopes to develop a river play park. A feasibility study will examine redesigning the Oldman River weir to eliminate the drowning hazards associated with weirs and add an exciting river play park for white-water activities.

Craig Ellis, a member of this group, said “they are eager to remind people on the importance of our water, its quality and the beauty we have in our own backyard, and to bring new life to the river valley developing upon the updated Lethbridge River Valley Master Plan.”

The 2012 Alberta Games was the last time canoe/kayak racing was hosted on the Oldman River. The 2020 Games will host boys and girls canoe/kayak competition in three age categories from 11 to 17 years of age. Up to 64 athletes from eight zones across the province will compete in three disciplines.

Individual events include slalom, which will take place on the Oldman River north of Pavan Park. The downriver racing will take place near the High Level Bridge. The only team event is the ever-exciting canoe polo which will take place at the west end of Nicholas Sheran Lake.

For those interested in water sports, Lethbridge has programs for all ages and abilities.

Possibly the most well-known water sport in Lethbridge is dragon boating. Dragon boating, which originated in China, became an international sport in 1976. Formed in 2008, the Dragonboat Association of Southern Alberta provides paddlers with training, equipment and events for recreation and competitive crews. They train from April to October on Henderson Lake and from October to April at Max Bell Aquatic Centre at the University of Lethbridge.

High Level Canoe and Kayaks provides watersports events and lessons for all skill levels throughout the year. The 2020 season begins Jan. 18 with Zone 1 Alberta Games trials. The day will include training clinics and tuneup sessions to help youth who have been off for the fall season. These will take place at Fritz Sick Pool. The trials will consist of a slalom paddle with ball-handling skill in the pool under a timed event.

Throughout the winter High Level hosts canoe polo sessions every other Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. for anyone who wants to keep working skill with a few thrills. For those who prefer to train on a warm beach High Level is running a training session the third week of January >in Belize.

To find out more about water sport programs go to https://lethbridgesportcouncil.ca/sport-directory/. Watch for the Alberta Summer Games Volunteer Recruitment announcement coming in January. The Games take place from July 23-26 at venues throughout Lethbridge.

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