Paddleboarding opens on Tempe Town Lake

Windy weekend weather didn’t keep crowds of people from trying out Tempe Town Lake’s newest aquatic sport for the first time Saturday.

Stand-up paddleboarding is a new aquatic activity sweeping the nation, said Denise Rentschler, a city of Tempe Community Outreach official. In paddleboarding, a person stands on a board that resembles a surfboard and navigates the water using an oar.

“Paddleboarding is becoming a very popular sport and we decided it would fit into our current water activities,” she said.

The sport was welcomed onto the Tempe Town Lake roster of activities Saturday with a free three-hour event, complete with certified instructors and at least 100 attendees.

“I’m not really into traditional exercising, like going to the gym, but this is a unique and fun way to get a great workout,” psychology freshman Carmel Dooling said.

Paddleboarders would typically have to try to get wet while navigating the water, and even if they fell off, they wouldn’t fall too far. The sport is restricted to a shallow area of Tempe Town Lake, where participants can paddle along the shore.

The lake is legally approved for sports that involve getting partially wet, but not for swimming, Rentschler said. Tempe Town Lake is not properly monitored for swimming events, and acidity levels could be an issue.

“The pH level [of the lake] has been a concern, becoming elevated over time,” said Mark Schaffer, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.  “The current levels are unknown.”

PH levels measure the acidity of the water to make sure it does not cause skin irritation or burning in the nose and eyes.

“If we were allowing swimming, we would monitor the pH levels on an hourly basis,” Rentschler said. “We do test and treat the water, but we are not treating this as a swimming event.”

Dooling said she is not worried about the safety of the water.

“I trust the city to keep it clean and safe," she said.

People might be concerned about falling into the water, but Rentschler said there are no safety concerns even if they do.

“If participants somehow fell off their boards, they would only fall in to the waist. It is not enough to cause any harm or skin irritation,” she said.

But Schaffer still advises being wary of water acidity.

“People should be cautious in any situation with elevated pH levels,” he said.

Stand-up paddleboards can be rented from Boat Rentals of America at Tempe Town Lake for different rates, depending on the number of hours. One hour is $20, according to the Boat Rentals of America website.

Reach the reporter at lawalke4@asu.edu


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