Gateway: Sports

Kayak team’s national title run yet another reason to solidify its home base in Gig Harbor

The Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team won another national title over the weekend.

In other news, water is wet.

It’s the fourth straight national title for the club, which has evolved from a cute underdog story to the most dominant club in the country. The team, which beat out second-place Lake Lanier (Georgia) by a whopping 150 points, is in the midst of a run of unprecedented dominance.

The scary part? The championship run might just be getting started.

Head coach Alan Anderson brought in East Germany native Holm Schmidt in the spring, a move that has already paid dividends, according to Anderson. Schmidt is responsible for the high-performance racers of the club and puts in long hours to train them on the water and in the weight room. The eventual goal for Schmidt and the club is to produce a homegrown Olympian from Gig Harbor or the Pierce County area.

The club sent several athletes to the Junior World championships last month in Portugal, and sends some of its younger aspiring athletes to the Olympic Hopes Regatta, which will occur in September in Poland. Over the past few years, the team has sent athletes to compete all over the globe against some of the world’s best paddlers.

Working downtown near Skansie Park, I often drive or walk past the paddlers. There’s always at least a couple there throughout various points during the day. Whether they’re just relaxing for a few minutes, stretching, meeting, preparing to go out on the water or just coming back, their dedication to the sport is obvious and admirable.

The club is an important asset to the community and represents Gig Harbor in a positive way. Last month, the city of Gig Harbor was given a grant to help restore the Ancich Netshed and upper area of Ancich Park, which is slated to become an area for human-powered vessels. If all goes according to plan, this will include a space for the GHCKRT to call home. The club currently works out of a small corner of Skansie Park, which is fine for the short term, but is not suited for long-term use.

This is good news for the club and the community. Earlier in the summer, I reported that the club had begun to explore alternative locations for a permanent home. Hopefully, the ball keeps rolling on the Ancich site. Hopefully, this club will be around to represent Gig Harbor and win national titles for a long time.

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151