The sun glistened over the cool, calm water early morning Sept. 11 as a small group of paddleboarders and kayakers headed four miles down Tellico Lake to soak in nature and reflect on one of the most tragic days in history.
Simon Bradbury, Tellico Village Property Owners Association recreation director, came up with an idea to hold a special paddle outing in honor of those who lost their lives in a series of terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’ve been doing Paddleboard 101, we’ve been doing Kayak 101,” Bradbury said. “We’ve been doing reservations for people to come out — it’s all part of being a recreation member, there’s no charge for them. What we wanted to do now is start some social paddles. My assistant director came up with an idea for a Patriot Paddle on Sept. 11. We thought that was a perfect idea. Part of that is it’s a great way to start the day with the sunrise and celebrating our freedom and what we get to do. There’s a solemn, serene view as we get to do that.”
Several veterans joined the paddle and wanted to honor those who lost their lives 18 years ago.
“I enjoyed just the serenity of it and the camaraderie with other people, getting to visit with other folks,” David Holbrook, U.S. Navy veteran, said. “It’s lovely out here. It’s sad that that happened ... it’s just terrible. I hope that people never forget about what happened so that we can be careful in the way we do things.”
Pete Kennedy was deployed 1970-76 on a nuclear submarine and enjoyed taking part in the paddle.
“It was nice flat water and didn’t have to put up with the wind, but it was a nice tribute, too,” Kennedy said. “I think you’ve seen the signs that say, ‘Never forget.’ I was U.S. Customs, so I dealt with those people all the time. I think it’s really important not to forget what happened.”
Paddle sports is one of the most popular activities in the Village, and Bradbury wants to keep pushing.
“We’re a lake community, and it’s one of the best resources that we have,” he said. “We have lakes, and we’ve got beautiful woods and we make trails. The idea of recreation is not just reserved to lifting weights or doing cardio or pickleball or tennis — it’s all accompanying. That’s what the department has really done for the past couple of years, is focusing on getting outdoors. We have 10 miles of trails, we have a beautiful lake park. I came out here three years ago, I was like, ‘Where’s the paddleboards and the kayaks? We should have them’.”
Boating has always been a popular activity among Villagers, but Bradbury has noticed a drastic increase in the number of paddleboarders and kayakers.
“We’ve been packed with our classes, and part of that is showing everyone the different styles of boats there are, different paddleboards,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘I’ve never tried it before, I’m kind of nervous about it.’ We’ve got an instructor, usually me, that shows them how to do it and to help them buy a board. Some people, they’re on the fence. They come up with ideas like, ‘I want to golf. I want to do tennis.’ They don’t want to commit to buying a boat yet, so they want to try it out first, so this gives them an option to do that.”
The Village also offers fitness classes where participants perform basic strength and balance exercises on top of a paddleboard.
The class occurs at 9 a.m. Fridays through Oct. 4 at the Tugaloo Pavilion and is led by former Village fitness instructor Jean Clesen.
“We do some cardio intervals,” Clesen said. “We do one straight, one squat each time you put the paddle in. We will paddle forward for two like a baton, we hold them (paddles) up here and do a lot of balance things. We’ll do some lunges, we’ll do some planks, we’ll do some sit-ups and then we stretch the last 15 minutes. It’s a regular class that you would do on land on a board. I bought a paddleboard ... and I just created a class that we could do.”
The class is limited to 10 participants and reservations can be made at the Chota Recreation Center.