If you're a student, this is great news. If you're a parent, this can be a nightmare. If you're a fan of community sports, it might sound like there's not much happening over the next few months. But that is not true.
There's actually quite a bit happening in the Sarasota area this summer. Big events, the kind of events you won't want to miss — events that parents can bring their kids to see, giving them something to do, if that's on your mind.
So mark these down on your calendar and get ready to experience some exciting sporting events this summer.
USRowing 2023 Youth National Championships
The biggest youth rowing event in the country will once again descend on Nathan Benderson Park on June 8-11. Rowing can be a tough spectator sport, but USRowing and Benderson Park (and the other behind-the-scenes supporters) have continually succeeded in making the Youth Nationals the best live viewing experience possible, complete with gigantic video boards that follow the boats the whole race.
Plus, rowers from Sarasota historically do well at the championships. Last year, Sarasota Crew rowers Maeva Ginsberg-Klemmt and Maya Schultz took home gold medals in the Women's U17 2x race (7:36.96). The club's Men's Youth 8+ boat finished with a bronze medal (5:50.70), as did the Men's U17 8+ boat (6:09.92) and the Men's U16 4x (6:54.42).
Plenty of rowers at this event will go on to row for big-time college programs, and some may even get a seat on an Olympic boat someday. If that sounds preposterous, just ask former Crew rower Clark Dean, who represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics; Dean previously led the Crew's 8+ boat to a gold medal at the 2018 Youth Nationals.
The annual event will hit Sarasota's Lido Beach June 30-July 2. The event is expected to draw more than 90 teams from around the world to the Gulf of Mexico.
As much fun as sport itself is — the event will serve as the 2023 P1 Offshore and AquaX Championships — the atmosphere is as big of a selling point. If you're looking for a weekend of beautiful views, delicious food, fun music and, of course, exciting racing, it's a hard event to beat. And there are events happening even before racing begins, like the July 1 downtown block party that allows fans to get an up-close look at the massive powerboats that will race the next day.
Not much is more American than kids competing for a spot in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, each summer.
It's a long road: All-Star district tournaments begin in June, but the entire process runs through the summer, with the Little League World Series taking place Aug. 16-27. To get there, teams have to go through the district, sectional, state and regional levels of play first. And while the traditional LLWS, which is for kids 10-12, gets a lot of the spotlight, there are also World Series events for older players, too. Younger players don't see their All-Star seasons extend to the national level, but hey, there's nothing wrong with winning a state championship either.
Without knowing much about teams in other areas, it's difficult to predict how Sarasota teams will do, but last season the Sarasota Little League's 8-9-10 "National" team won its district title. No matter who wins, though, it's fun to support the kids attempting the challenge — and the sport itself — while eating a hot dog and some chips sitting on the bleachers. You can visit LittleLeague.org for more info.
USDBF 2023 Club Crew National Championships
If you go to the US Dragon Boat Federation 2023 Club Crew National Championships, make sure you refer to the action that drives the dragon boats as paddling, not rowing.
Trust me. I've made that mistake.
The Club Crew Nationals, held July 21-23 at Nathan Benderson Park, are a great chance to see some of the country's best dragon boat teams in action. Unlike rowing, where there are some singles and pairs events that show off the prowess of specific rowers, every dragon boat event is about the team and how well it works together. Benderson Park crews, like the Survivors in Sync breast cancer survivor team, will be in action.
More information can be found at USDBF.org. And remember: It's paddling, not rowing.
U.S. Masters National Swimming Championships
The water sports never end.
On Aug. 2-6, the U.S. Masters National Swimming Championships will come to Selby Aquatic Center, and like the other water sports on this list, the Sarasota area has competitors expected to compete for national titles — and maybe set some records.
For instance, Sarasota Sharks Masters swimmers Karen Einsidler, Jami Gray, Nancy Kryka and Marilyn Early are the current USMS record holders in the 65+ 200-yard freestyle relay (1:56.21), the 400-yard freestyle relay (4:21.32), the 800 freestyle relay (9:55.65) and the 200-yard medley relay (2:15.99). Plenty of other Sarasota-area swimmers hold records, too, and they could easily be broken again at the USMS Nationals.
Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.