Fun. Exciting. Crazy. Aggressive.
Those were the words Yujin Roh, Benjamin Perry, Micah Gordon and Joshua Fowlie, all of Prince George, used to describe kayak polo following their first experience with the sport on Sunday at Nadsilnich Lake in West Lake Provincial Park.
Water-borne rough and tumble would also be apt.
Wearing helmets with metal face guards, paddling in kayaks with rubber bumpers on the ends and using paddles with thick and rounded edges to prevent injury, teams of five work to gain control of a ball and score points by throwing it through a 1.5- by-one-metre goal stationed two metres above the water.
There are rules: No striking another player with your paddle and no ramming another boat at a 90-degree angle or hitting another boat's cockpit.
"It's like a bunch of sports at the same time," said Fowlie. "Like kayaking, soccer, basketball."
The four, along with coach Angus Ball, made it as far as the semifinals before losing in sudden death. More importantly, they enjoyed playing the game.
"Mainly the adrenaline rush when you're getting hit by other boats," said Perry when asked to elaborate on what makes the sport exciting.
They also discovered that throwing a ball while inside a kayak floating on water takes a bit of touch and balance. Roh said she learned to use her paddle to counter the momentum that came with a toss.
"You get crashed into a lot, so you need to keep your balance during that," said Gordon.
With the BC Summer Games ending on Sunday, the athletes who converged on Nadsilnich have moved on, but some of the equipment for playing the game - namely the fleet of kayaks and the floating officials dock - will remain in the care of the Prince George Canoe and Kayak Club.
Paddling holds its own appeal
A variety of canoe and kayak races occupied the lake on Friday and Saturday. Prince George's Jessica Fowlie and Gordon took first in the girls 1,000 metre C2 with turn and Chloe Bialuski and Roh took second.
Jessica Fowlie also took silver in the 200-metre C1.
Paddling, be it kayak or canoe, and be it recreational or competitive, appears to be a passion for members of the PGCKC.
"When you're out on the water, it's really peaceful," Bialuski said. "You can get in your own zone and really think."
Gaining general strength is also among the benefits.
"You get your core, your abs, your legs, your arms," Bialuski said.
And it's anything but boring.
"There are so many things to focus on when you're in the water," Jessica Fowlie said. "You're focused on the sounds around you, like the peacefulness. But you're also focused on all your strokes that you're going to be making."
"Paddling, your balance, making sure you're not tipping," Bialuski added. "There's not really any time when you're just sitting and doing nothing."