Get Your Game On

Pass the summer splash test with these rowdy water fitness contests

Aug 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

In these sweltering months, every river, lake, and ocean beckons with a simple and refreshing promise: a soaking good time. Listen up, swimmers, boaters, and surfers: We're here to add even more fun to your agua sports and fitness regimen. We've got five insouciant competitions that will polish your water skills—and supply far more fun than playing Marco Polo in your neighbor's pool.

Whitewater Kayaking
The Game: Sure, meandering down a calm stretch of river is idyllic and all, but it can get old fast. Kill the boredom with a classic game of KEEP-AWAY by using your paddle as a racket and slapping a tennis ball around with your kayaking mates. "The ball seldom goes where you want it to," says Wayne Dickert, instruction manager at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, in Bryson City, North Carolina, "so you'll have to paddle across the river or upstream to chase it—or your opponent—down." You'll learn to navigate with dexterity, a skill that's hard to pick up when your kayak is set on "float."
The Rules: You need at least two teams of two, with everyone wearing helmets—because nobody likes getting whopped upside the head. Commence play by trying to start a paddle volley with your teammate. (The key word here is try.) Your goal is to keep the ball moving between you and your mate while the other team tries to poach it. If rapids appear, we recommend that you tuck the ball and focus on the task at hand—namely, the hydraulic dead ahead.