| Jun 05, 2008

Jun 5/08 - Sydenham Canoe Club

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Feature Article - June 5, 2008 Sydenham Lake Canoe ClubBy Julie Druker

Commodore Erik Miazga his daughter, Head Coach Haeleigh Miazga and club member Jacob Sharpe.

This Saturday June 7, the Sydenham Lake Canoe Club will be holding a yard sale and raffle at the Rural VISIONS Centre to raise funds for the club.

Commodore Erik Miazga, the president of the club, explains that the club is dedicated to "the sport of flatwater sprint canoe and kayak racing". While this is an Olympic sport and members have many opportunities throughout the season to compete in various regattas, recreational paddling is also offered. Novices, both children and adults, are encouraged "to get out in a boat and simply enjoy themselves." Paddlers have the option of paddling alone or in groups of two or four. A war canoe holds 15 paddlers and competes in events as well.

The club puts out a brochure explaining the breakdown of class groups beginning with Atom (under 10 years old) and continuing up to Junior (18 years and older). A pre-season training camp is offered that runs from June16 to June 28 (Monday to Friday) and includes introductory lessons available to both new and returning members. The regular season runs from June 30-August 15 (Monday to Friday) and prepares paddlers for weekend races.

Members have the unique opportunity to travel with other members, friends and family to a wide range of regattas (all listed in the brochure) that occur on weekends throughout the summer in Gananoque, Carleton Place, Ottawa and North Bay. The club will host two of the regattas on Sydenham Lake and should attract over 2500 visitors to the area. Club members also have the opportunity to compete at both the provincial and the national levels, the nationals being held this year in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The club began in 1997 as the Cataraqui Canoe Club and split into two that year when the Kingston contingent relocated to the Kingston area. The second group became the Sydenham branch and remains based in Sydenham on the lake. The Sydenham club has no official building but rather is located on a piece of land abutting the lake just behind Foodland grocery store. The club owns 30 boats and a trailer to transport them.

Erik stresses the importance of fundraising and volunteering to keep the club up and running. Many expenses are incurred including the upkeep of the boats, the trailer, and the site location. Other costs include advertising, fuel, insurance, signage and racing fees. "The only people getting paid are the three coaches." Erik admits, "We're lucky if we can get a grant, otherwise we are solely dependent on fundraising." He reminds me, "that though it is not a cheap sport, it is not expensive to join." A member needs only to supply their own life jacket.

Erik desribes the sport as exciting, "It involves team work but you can also chose to be alone or be in a group." He adds that "lots of kids join and remain members for years...it creates very strong bonds between members." Like all sports it is a chance to become fit physically and to get out in nature on the lake. The sport tends to be very family oriented since whole days are spent at regattas where there are often other social events taking place.

Erik has passed his love of the sport on to his daughter, Haeleigh Miazga, who has been coaching the team for the last three years and will be head coach this season. Haeleigh's been paddling for nine years "every summer from June until school starts." She was competing as a canoer up until last season. She looks forward to this year since there will be even more kids involved. "I look forward to seeing the kids progress and will enjoy working with the new staff members."

Erik encourages anyone interested in joining the club to contact himself or Kimberley Miazga at (613) 376-3654 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more detailed information regarding specific programs, regattas, fees and dates pick up a brochure or visit www.freewebs.com/sydenhamlakecanoeclub

Happy paddling to Erik and Haeleigh and to all members of the club old and new.


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