CAPE CORAL, Fla. - With more then 400 miles of canals, Cape Coral is a big draw for people who like to canoe and kayak. Now one non-profit organization has turned that love of water into competitive racing.
This isn't your leisurely trip down a canal.
It's high performance competitive training with the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club. Melinda Mack with the club says they coach Olympic hopefuls.
The sport attracts athletes from across the state, and around the world, bringing them to the waters of Cape Coral.
"Currently we have the Denmark team coming for three weeks in march, we have the UK team inquiring about coming. We have one of the hall of famers from Canada coming in from next week," Mack said.
That means a big boost to the city's economy. But there's a problem. The club, and these athletes, don't have a home base.
They have to train at the coach's house or at various locations around Cape Coral. So, they're looking to develop an international site that would include a boathouse and a workout facility to kick this program into high gear.
"Training in the backyard of the coach, it's not fair. You know? They want to have more people with them, and a bigger location," said High Performance Coach Pepe Naranjo.
"A men's and women's locker room. Offices. Boathouse storage, and weight room," explained Mack.
That would cost about $1.2 million. The team would pay for it with grants and help from the public and private sector.
"We also would love to serve any military veterans who've been injured and want to be athletes on the water," said physical therapist Mike Fritz.
They're looking at a few locations around town, and hope they are paddling in the right direction.
They also want to bring sanctioned races to the city. The club is making a presentation before Cape Coral's city council on November 26th.