Just north of Napanee, Ont., the World Barefoot Water-Ski Championships are under way.
This special kind of water-skiing, also known as “barefooting,” works exactly as it sounds: skiers use their feet to surf on the water.
Athletes have been gathering at Dream Lake near Selby, Ont., all week to compete against the best barefoot water-skiers in the world.
The man-made lake was built for this very purpose by Dwight and Michele Williams, who made the lake in 2003 specifically to feed their water-skiing habit. The couple has since found a new interest in barefooting.
The lake had already been host to the 2013, 2014 and 2016 national barefoot championships, but 2018 will mark the first world championships for the site.
“I started in 2013, wanted to do it. It took a while to get there. It took a lot of help,” said Dwight.
Becky Moynes-Meyers is a member of Canada’s barefoot water-skiing team.
“This site is literally a dream,” said Moynes-Meyers.
Moynes-Meyers was also part of the organizing committee, and she says there were ups and downs to the organization process.
“It’s been a learning process, but it’s just really exciting to have it finally here and see the event coming together.”
Thirteen countries are represented by over 100 barefoot competitors at Dream Lake.
The competition in Canada this year will be the seventh championship for New Zealand’s Georgia Groen. She says competitions like the one at Dream Lake can be grueling.
“It’s just whoever can stick it out on the day — mentally and physically, we’ve got to be ready.”
Luckily for Groen, she’s come to Canada with family support.
“If you look at the New Zealand team, half of it is my family so I just got brought up into it,” said Groen. “I started barefooting when I was four.”
The championships come to a close on Saturday and admission is free.