Chattanooga Kayakers Compete At World Championships

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Two kayakers from Chattanooga are representing the United States of America in the Kayak Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham, England, UK from June 27 to July 2.


Taft Sibley, 35, and Bennett Smith, 25, were both selected to represent the USA in the men’s squirt boat and men’s kayak category respectively.  They are now both stalwarts of the US Freestyle Team in their categories and great ambassadors for Chattanooga that they boast about: “Chattanooga is basically the capital of outdoor activities,” Taft said.


Taft Sibley started kayaking when he was 14 on a City of Chattanooga outdoor program in 2001.  “It was a great program, we were so lucky, and the coaches were really cool,” he said.

“They took us creek boating, it was crazy and we loved it”.  Taft then expanded into downstream squirt boating and loves mystery moves that totally submerge the kayak and paddler.


Taft, now a property developer, has won three world champion titles in the Mystery Worlds. He said, “I’m a mystery move guy.” Taft also competes as an ultra-marathon athlete which helps him hold his breath for long times under water, essential when getting ‘downtime’ underwater.  “Yeah I run,” he said. “I just like adventures and the great outdoors.”


Bennett started kayaking aged 13 when a friend came back from a summer camp at Falling Creek in North Carolina raving about kayaking.  His friend, Jeremy Adkins, then taught Bennett white water kayaking and got him into freestyle. “I was good at gymnastics, so it just made sense to me to do gymnastics in a kayak,” Bennett said.


In 2013, the Freestyle World Championships were at Nantahala and Bennett set his sights on competing.  He trained hard for two years before the competition.  His hard work paid off and he placed fifth in the youth men’s category.  Bennett Smith now works for the American Heart Association, and is passionate about his work.  He is a great role model and freestyle kayaking keeps him super fit.


Bennett and Taft are now setting their sights beyond the World Championships and want to bring kayaking to the heart of the City of Chattanooga.  “The only thing Chattanooga is missing in a white water park,” Bennett said.  Taft has been volunteering as project manager for the development of Walden’s Ridge Park for mountain biking and now wants to team up with Bennett to deliver a white water park in the city centre.


It is early in the planning but Bennett and Taft have a strong vision. “We want a centre for white water that is also a park for everyone cantered around families,” Bennett said. “We want somewhere that has features for all water-sports so that people can tube, river surf, stand-up paddleboard, slalom, freestyle, race,” Taft said, “that’s safe for kids and that everyone can enjoy”.


“Ultimately we would love to host the International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Chattanooga, we would love to do that and make it accessible to everyone,” Bennett said.

AA South Baseball Standings

Lee Men's Soccer Picked Third In Preseason Poll

UTC Defender Shaw Named To SoCon Preseason Soccer Team

AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 8/10/22) Second Half Team North Division W L PCT GB ... (click for more)

Gulf South Conference coaches have the Lee men's soccer team placing third behind West Florida and Auburn Montgomery (AUM) in their preseason poll, but that is something Flames' Coach Derek Potteiger ... (click for more)

Chattanooga women’s soccer defender Maggie Shaw was named to the Southern Conference Coaches Preseason All-Conference Team, the league office announced Thursday and the Mocs were picked to finish ... (click for more)


AA South Baseball Standings

AA-South Standings/Results (as of games of 8/10/22) Second Half Team North Division W L PCT GB Tennessee (CHC) 19 16 .543 - Rocket City (LAA)* 18 17 .514 1.0 Birmingham (CWS) ... (click for more)

Lee Men's Soccer Picked Third In Preseason Poll

Gulf South Conference coaches have the Lee men's soccer team placing third behind West Florida and Auburn Montgomery (AUM) in their preseason poll, but that is something Flames' Coach Derek Potteiger says never enters his mind. "If somebody else doesn't tell me, I wouldn't even know where we are picked. Preseason polls: national, conference, or otherwise, mean nothing to me. We ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Couple Shot In Hixson As They Lay In Bed Early Thursday Morning

Chattanooga Police said two people were shot early Thursday morning as they lay in bed at their residence in Hixson. At 1:30 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a shooting at 4900 Lavender Trail. Police were advised that two people suffering from non-life threatening injuries had driven themselves to a local hospital for treatment. They were a man 22 and a woman 26. ... (click for more)

Biden Administration Announces $25 Million for Wilcox Bridge, $14.6 Milllion To Dunlap For Highway 127 Intersection Improvement

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on Thursday announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded $63 million to support three projects in Tennessee from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program to help move forward on projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, and intermodal transportation and ... (click for more)


A City In Search Of A Symbol - And Response

Assurances have been given of a much larger and varied utilization of the 141-acre former Wheland Foundry/U.S. Pipe site, not merely a new stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Discussion of the proposed new stadium for Chattanooga has dominated the use of the dormant site. Additional usages of the property itself as well as “ripple effects” of the development intentionally move ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Freaks Of College Football

It has been almost 20 years since Bruce Feldman, a marvelous sportswriter for and Fox Sports, came up with the idea of identifying the “Freaks” of college football. Wait, being called a freak is a good thing, a very good thing, on a football team. It means you are so strong or so fast or so “athletic” that your own teammates and coaches stand in awe, be it in the ... (click for more)