Fort Mill Times

USA Kayak Polo Nationals to play Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at Tega Cay

The biggest kayak polo event in the country is heading downstream.

Originally set for McDowell Nature Preserve in Steele Creek, the upcoming national championship event will be held in Tega Cay. The event still will be hosted by Carolina Kayak Polo Club, and still will happen during Labor Day weekend.

“No major changes, basically just location,” said Carolina club and women’s national team member Kim Parker. “It will be at the beachfront area near the pool.”

The club announced earlier this year it would host the tournament, which annually brings teams from across the country from California to Massachusetts, to its training home at McDowell. The club hosted nationals at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in 2007 and McDowell in 2010.

“The park didn’t have availability to allow us space for the weekend,” Parker said.

Parker said Tega Cay Parks and Recreation Director Joey Blethen and city manager Charlie Funderburk have been supportive.

“We are excited for the opportunity to host such a unique event at the national level right here in our own back yard,” Blethen said.

Funderburk, city manager, said the club obtained required permits from South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to hold the event on Nivens Creek. The city helped by providing a staging area and parking, he said.

The USA Kayak Polo Nationals tournament runs Aug. 30-Sept. 1 with up to 10 clubs and about 60 athletes competing. The women’s national team will be preparing for September’s world championships in France.

The Carolina club began play in 2006 with practices and competition at McDowell during seasonal months, adding the aquatic center during winter. They have won multiple second-level national titles since. Nationals will include competition for Club A, Club B and women’s titles.

Kayak polo is a cross between water polo, basketball and hockey. Each team has five players on the pitch (and up to three substitutes), who compete to score in their opponents goal, which is suspended 6 feet above the water, and is 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. The game is 14 to 20 minutes long consisting of two 7 to 10 minute halves.

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