SARASOTA-BRADENTON, Fla.: In the longest distance, and now in the shortest, paddlers based at Nathan Benderson Park have snagged world honors — including three world-championship gold medals.And they’ve done so on their home water.The park’s NBP Paddling Program sets its sights on more hardware Saturday, as the facility plays host to the 2022 International Dragon Boat Federation 13th Club Crew World Championships. Saturday’s races are in the medium distance, the classic 500-meter dragon-boat sprint.The NBP Survivors In Sync took a world championship gold medal in the 200-meter sprint, after taking a silver in the 2000-meter oval competition Tuesday. The team paddles in the breast-cancer survivors (BCP) division with a standard 20-paddler boat.The NBP Warriors, a team competing in the all-cancer survivors (ACP) division with a short-boat entry of 10 paddlers, took a world championship home in the 200-meter sprint, after claiming the world championship in the 2000-meter ovals Tuesday.The NBP Dragons community team’s senior-B (ages 50 and older) short boat took a bronze in the 200-meter, after earning a silver in the 2000-meter oval.Stephen V. Rodriguez, the president of the Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy, credits the hard work of many.“Our performance this week shows the amazing progress of the NBP Paddling Program, which is solidifying its place on the international stage,” he said. “These accomplishments are due to the hard work and commitment of our dedicated paddlers, their supporters and our accomplished head coach, Angela Long. The benefits of hosting events of this magnitude go far beyond bringing visitors to the area. We’re able to provide an opportunity for our hometown residents, everyday people like you, to compete on the world stage and call themselves world champions.”Long credited “true teamwork.”“We had our challenges to overcome today, and we faced them together,” she said. “True teamwork, heart and dedication by all. A bronze in senior mixed, gold in the ACP and gold in the BCP made for an amazing day for us. Definitely one for the memory books.”Club-crew championships are competitions where entire crews qualify together, rather than the hand-picked national teams that compete in alternate years. The club-crew championship event is in the United States for the first time ever.The NBP Dragons senior-A women in the paddling program’s round out the program’s roster of four entries in the championships.The four crews qualified for world berths from the U.S. Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew National Championships, which were also held at the park in October 2021.The NBP Paddling Program has four teams, including the NBP Veterans team for military veterans wounded, able and disabled alike. The teams are open to the public for both recreation and competition. Contact Head Coach Angela Long at along@nathanbendersonpark.org to try out the sport.

aerial shot of Nathan Benderson Park