Stand-up paddle boarding was declared an official Special Olympics sport in Florida for the first time last year, has made its way to Pasco County.

Bay News 9 profiled the competitors and the growing interest in the local Tampa area. Abbreviated “SUP,” Stand-up paddle “…seemed like a perfect fit for Special Olympic athletes in the Sunshine State.”

“It’s peaceful, fun, enjoyable. It’s relaxing,” athlete Christopher Cahoon said to the News Outlet, during a recent practice in Port Richey.

photo/ Florida Stand-Up Paddling site
photo/ Florida Stand-Up Paddling site

“I get myself up on the board, put the leash around my ankle and start paddling,” Cahoon said. “I listen to what the coaches tell me, where to go and how to do it.”

More at the State of Florida site dedicated to the sport HERE

Chip Smith talked with the news channel as well, prepping for the 800-yard competition, practicing a couple times a week.

“I’ve done flag football, bowling, swimming, soccer,” Smith said.

“It’s about the spirit of the game. We fail, we get back up. Nobody cares who’s winning who’s losing,” Coach Phyllis Crane said. “We all want to win, and we get there, but they all never stop trying. That’s the best part about Special Olympics.”

Twenty-nine counties are now competing in Special Olympic paddle boarding in Florida.

The first SUP competition of the year is this weekend in Winter Haven.

For more information, contact Special Olympics Florida at (352) 243-9536.

State Stand Up Paddle ChampionshipStand-Up-Paddle

Nathan Benderson Park
5851 Nathan Benderson Circle
Sarasota, FL 34235

Events Offered:  Levels 1-4

Saturday, August 27, 2016
7:00 – 7:30 am Athlete Check-In
7:30 – 8:00 am Opening Ceremony
8:00 am – 12:00 pm Preliminary Competition & Triathlon Demonstration
11:00 – 12:30 pm Lunch
1:00 – 5:00 pm Competition and Awards