Sharon Baker Brown

Sharon Baker Brown competes in the slalom event at the 2020 VELUX Skylights Southern Regional Water Ski Championship.

The high-flying jumps and fast-paced slaloms associated with water skiing makes it much anticipated return, as the 2021 AWSA Southern Regional Water Ski Championships gets underway in Greenwood.

Starting on Wednesday, over 200 competitors from all across the southeast will compete to punch their ticket to the GOODE Water Ski National Championships which are held in the beginning of August.

“The first three days is features our junior skiiers which are kids from sometimes as young as four and five years old, up to 17 years old. Then we also have some seniors that in the past, (have) competed in tournaments as old as 92 years old,” tournament director, Scott Snape said.

The five-day qualifier will be held at Rodgers Lake in Ninety Six, the host of the southeast regional since 1990. Snape said that the man-made lake, named after world-record holder and Greenwood native Jeff Rodgers, creates the perfect conditions to hold this competition.

“With public boat traffic and access, it’s difficult to maintain course,” Snape said “The water conditions are always mediocre at best because, you’re looking for optimal smooth water conditions. They built the lake to aid in his training because, he had a natural gift in slalom skiing. After hosting tournaments for over 20 something years, people said, ‘Hey, you really ought to consider having the regional championships.’”

The competition will feature three major events across all five days: trick skiing, slalom skiing and jumping. Snape suggested that first-time spectators of the regional championships watch the jumping competitions as the lake is optimal for spectators.

“Rogers Lake is beautiful. It’s got plenty of ample shade and to see the people come and just really enjoy it and all the enthusiasm behind the juniors that’s what you know that’s what our sport is,” Snape said. “We’ll do a lot here for the kids that they go out ski but we’ll have we will have a water slide at dunking booth and some other stuff wanted to do in other events during the weekend. That’s the big thing is just the enjoyment of the kids and the families coming together and just having a good time.”

Contact sports writer James Benedetto at 864-223-1814.